I really think that the big Ford is a copy of the Chevy design which came first. It's a similar thing to what Ford did with the small block engines. They copied the basic design and then made what improvements they felt that it needed. The job they did on the small blocks was fine but the big block is a very good overall design that's durable, easy to build and runs very well. Not that there is anything really wrong with the Chevrolet it's just that having a larger higher placed camshaft, wider bore spacing and taller deck height is generally a lot better when it comes to making a BIG engine and that's where the Ford design truly excels.
Althought this may be true. I see it differently, I see the heritage of the Tunnel port heads - both from the small block Fords as well as the FE as the progentors of the BBF. Ford was smart enough to see that Heads made the engine and spent an enoromous amount of money and time in that area. The Z-11 (?) GM heads may have been out, but during that same time period Ford was already being frozen out of NASCAR with a product that was much closer to the eventual configuration of the LIMA.
Ford went with symmetrical exhaust and intake port placement since the FE and SBF (had already went to symmetric exhaust with the "Y"block already, not that the "Y" block with it over/under intakes was a bad decision - but it was limited in potential development).
I'm not the GM expert, so I'll ask - which BBC heads came first, the rectangular port or the round ports?
The biggest problem with BBF engines was timing, they came too late (smog and gas crisis) and had to exist in shadow of the more or less, fully developed FE during its formative years, when it should have be building a reputation, its main application/occupation was dragging portly Lincolns, Thunderbirds around and supplying torque monsters with grunt in commercial trucks. The FE had already been labeled a truck motor, couldn't really blame the Hot rodders for thinking it was more of the same. I really don't remember LIMA engines being serious players until the early/mid 80's. The BOSS was getting all the Ford sanctioned press - in funny cars, and top fuel.