The hypothesis: the Big East employed the strategy of strengthening their BASKETBALL lineup in order to remain in the BCS.
"But the BCS is a football arrangement."
Well, it's mostly a money-grubbing arrangement, basically designed to soak up the available bowl dollars, which are unfiltered by the NCAA.
This bracket projection (take with a Salt Lake) includes at-large bids from only 3 non-BCS conferences. Note that, from C-USA, either Cincinnati or Louisville (to be BE, obviously) will have to be at least one of them, leaving representatives from the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.
If I understand correctly, not long after the Division 1 governance was realigned (where the BCS essentially assumed control), the RPI formula was realigned to give more weight to conference strength, pretty much an automatic bias towards BCS schools. In addition, the formula for basketball tournament prize money was somewhat altered to give more money to conferences that had more schools in the tournament. I'd seen an article talking about either 2 or 3 years ago regarding the BCS getting all but 1 at-large bid- turned out to be false, but you see where I'm going here.
Personally, looking at that bracket and knowing the strengths of a few schools, I believe the BCS conferences steal 4-6 slots from more deserving schools.
If the BCS loses the Big East WITH Cincinnati and Louisville at current form, BCS conferences have either the potential to lose a decent chunk of the money grab, or face a credibility gap with the viewing public if they try to shut out Big East schools.
So? Maybe nothing. As long as the public craves the BCS bowl games vice boycotting them (and I'm talking about TV watching- thus enabling the sponsors), the BCS doesn't lose any strength. If anything, the public LIKES this arrangement for football, preferring familiar schools to upstarts. Half of the people who dream of more sensible geographic conferences and better revenue sharing miss the reality- school sports isn't just about getting all the revenue, it's about keeping that revenue away from the competition.