So the Big 12 and the SEC have now come together to arrange a big TV deal of their own.
The Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences have announced a five-year agreement for their football champions to meet in a postseason bowl game following the 2014 season.
The champions of the two conferences will be in the matchup unless one or both are selected to play in the new four-team model to determine the national championship. Should that occur, another deserving team from the conference(s) would be selected for the game.
Hmm. Two big TV deals for each conference have been announced. The Pac-12 has paired with the ultra-successful Big Ten in hopes of sharing in their riches. The Big 12 might be heading down a similar line, with OOC contests possibly to follow (well, maybe. The SEC's out-of-conference scheduling has always been notorious).
However, with a college playoff format still not quite bartered out, suddenly an "obvious solution is obvious" is right there for anyone with half a brain to see:
Forget about selection committees, preseason rankings, and all those stupid computers. Have the four conference champions face off in the Rose Bowl (Pac-12 vs. Big 10) and the Champions Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12). Then have the winners face in a title game sold to the highest bidder, the Super Bowl of college football.
There. Done. Satisfied? All of us can go home now.
While we'd all prefer home sites for the semifinals, the Big Ten has made it clear it would lock itself in a room with the Rose Bowl and starve to death together if it could. As we've already said, the Pac-12 will be happy to do it this way of course. So this is a healthy-enough compromise, with the big powers banding together and locking everyone else out of the process.
However, the aspirations of these new super-conferences should go a step further toward the final frontier of college football. The NCAA probably wouldn't allow this new system, so it's time to leave everyone else behind, time to escape the byzantine rulings of the NCAA, and start anew. The major conferences have proven they can broker their own deals and will probably continue to do so down the road. There's no need to continue to operate under the ancient arm of college athletics.
It's time to build something separate from the current NCAA, a new 48 team power entity that will rival almost any other major sport in America, and might only play second fiddle to the NFL.
ACC and Big East fans might complain, but their time is pretty much finished in terms of national relevance football-wise. Florida State is likely to join the Big 12, with Miami or Virginia Tech soon to follow in some iteration . If those three schools leave, the ACC really doesn't have a leg to stand on football-wise (but, hey, at least you won't be totally dead, you still got Duke-Carolina baby!). The Big East will be barely recognizable next year, and no one is going to want that conference in any of the major bowls.
The Big East and ACC are enjoying revenues that the other big conferences are openly pondering that they haven't earned. Neither conference has been holding their weight in the old system. How can you expect them to be anything but dead weight in the new one?
At 48 teams (12 to each conference), we could also have a regular season all of us would enjoy without thinking about perception and running up the score and popularity contests--just win the game. We would no longer have to resort to reality show judging of quality of victory because all that matters now is winning your conference. So you could have eight or nine conference games plus a conference championship, then one or two competitive OOC matchups plus the cupcakes (heck, you could expand it to ten games, then a quality OOC matchup and a cupcake! be creative), and the OOC losses won't even hurt because winning the conference is what's important.
The rankings are now obsolete. They're a quaint notion, and people can still vote as they please (who doesn't love a good BlogPoll), but in terms of determining who should be in the title game, they've provided nothing but headaches. No longer. It's just the conference champions who get into the race, from the only conferences that really matter in college football.
Worried that your team might be left out forever? Perhaps relegation should actively be considered. Jason Kirk guides you through the relegation setup, how schools would be relegated, and how college football relegation would work. Mid-majors feel like they have a chance to move up every year and stay there (although it's unlikely to happen), underachieving schools move down, and the structure of college football becomes more fluid and less entrenched. It'd be exciting.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten would get what they want in this four super conference arrangement. No more gerrymandering by the southern bloc voters to get the national title matchup that is SEC and Big 12-heavy. We have the Rose Bowl, they have the Champions Bowl, and the winners duke it out in a title game. Fans from Boise and Rutgers will object, but their protests will mostly fall on deaf ears.
The only thing that could stop this secession from going all the way are the TV networks dishing out this free cash (ESPN have long-term deals with the ACC and Big East that would be seriously devalued in this new arrangement). However, it's hard to believe ESPN, FOX, or anyone else would pass up the thought of a non-controversial title game being distributed on their network. It could very well end up being the second most valuable property in sports behind the Super Bowl, and would ensure the new super format is sustained indefinitely.
It's time guys. The power's all in your hands. Flex it.
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports: "It's what the deal represents: If you haven't noticed, the top level of college football is now narrowed to the Big Four – Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. Those 48 schools control most of the influence, power, money and, most importantly, product in the Football Bowl Subdivision. That shouldn't be a surprise but the announcement of the Champions Bowl put a face on college athletics' latest study in Darwinism.
“Nothing's changed,” one industry source said. “The Big East is diminished and the ACC is not the same as those other top leagues.”
Still, 48 schools and two major, big-time bowls. More power in the hands of the powerful. Let your mind wander. Secede from the NCAA? They certainly have the leverage if those 46 want to install their own recruiting rules and play with 150-man rosters? And at one point does a 16-team playoff sponsored by Anheuser-Busch become a reality?
It's all on the table now."
Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated: "Will the SEC and Big 12 push for this new bowl to serve as their designated semifinal host? If so, will the other conferences fight against it, seeing as those leagues have produced a No. 1 or 2 team nine straight years? Or do those conferences envision the game more as a comfortable backup should one of their champions fail to reach the playoff?
Friday's release left things intentionally vague, saying "The champions of the two conferences will be in the matchup unless one or both are selected to play in the new four-team [playoff]. Should that occur, another deserving team from the conference(s) would be selected for the game." If that's the case, we could see a move toward rotating the semifinal sites annually on a predetermined basis.
One thing's for certain: It's going to be a trying and nerve-racking year for the current BCS bowls. The conferences are expected to announce their chosen playoff format in late June or early July. Whichever one they choose, they'll do so before beginning negotiations with specific bowls. The Rose Bowl is its own animal. It will do whatever best suits the Big Ten and Pac-12. But now, none of the other current games -- Fiesta, Sugar and Orange -- are guaranteed of anything."