On Friday, the Big 12 and SEC announced a new bowl arrangement which will pit the two conferences together on New Years Day.
From the linked release: “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.”
Given that college football is headed for some kind of four-team playoff, combined with the SEC’s regular appearances in the BCS title games over the life of the game and especially of late, the ripple effects from this announcement are significant..and could affect the Big Ten.
Here are a few that popped into my head upon reading the announcement:
1. SICK OF ROSES: The rest of college football is tired of the Big Ten and Pac 12’s hanging on to the Rose Bowl as a bargaining chip related to a new post season. They would also love to have something just like it. While the Rose is the Grandaddy of them all and will always have a place at the Big Boy table, this new announcement is significant and could potentially lessen the bargaining impact the Rose has given the Big Ten and Pac 12. SEC commish Mike Slive said this on Friday: “The SEC and Big 12 have been the most successful conferences in the BCS era.” (according to Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune). Game on.
2. THE DOMINO EFFECT: The Big 12 has been sending its champion to the Fiesta Bowl and the SEC has been sending its champion to the Sugar unless they have bee 1 or 2 in the final BCS standings. The SEC/Sugar relationship has a lot of history. It’s safe to assume that the champion of the SEC is going to be involved in a four team playoff, so that team will mean this game will see the next best team from the SEC against either the Big 12 champ or the next best team from the Big 12 if its team is among the top four in the new playoff scenario. Still a very good bowl game, to be sure. How will this announcement impact the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls? Don’t know. Perhaps they alternate between those two sites every other year for this game, but that’s a big hit to the local economy to not have that bankable asset to bring tourists each January.
Also, the bowl partners each of these conferences now has is going to take a ‘prestige’ hit, as they will get a ‘lesser’ team for their game from these leagues. This is where it could impact the Big Ten with its tie ins with the Cap One and Outback Bowls.
Jim Delany said early this week that the Big Ten will be reevaluating its bowl partners and that there would be some changes. The league is said to be talking with the Pinstripe Bowl in New York about a tie in. I think the Gator Bowl tie in is going to go away because you don’t need three bowl tie ins within the state of Florida. One of the lesser Texas bowl games will probably go away, too.
But this SEC/Big 12 announcement is going to reverberate on the bowl scene and when the bowl contracts shake out and are redefined following the 2013 bowl year, I think you’ll see a significant shake up in the bowl landscape…especially if the 7-win minimum rule is put into place to qualify for bowl games. Some bowls will die off, which is not a bad thing.
3. HAVE’S vs HAVE NOT’s: There are four power conferences; Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC and Big 12. The Big 12 comes from the brink of dissolving to very stable footing in the span of 12 months. It’s quite a comeback story. They lose Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M, they had one of the most inept conference commissioners, Texas formed its own TV network and the Big 12 fans thought the league was done. Now? They are on very solid footing.
If you are not in one of those four leagues, you are on not so solid footing. These four leagues will be the core of four superconferences at some point. It may not happen for years or decades, but it’s headed that way. If you are not in one, you are looking to get in one before it’s too late, unless you are…
4. NOTRE DAME: Irish backers and writers continue to tell me that Notre Dame will remain independent and that they are not going to join a conference. They don’t use the word ‘never’ but they stop just short of it. This is another marquee bowl game that Notre Dame will not play in. I suspect the Rose will lock things down after the BCS era ends in two years and make it so the best available teams from their leagues still match up in the Rose if the Champions are in the Final Four. So there is another marquee game they won’t be in. Many of the best bowl games have conference tie ins which means Notre Dame can’t be a part of them. The Automatic Qualifier aspects of the BCS, and the provisions laid out for Notre Dame, will be going away. Etc, etc, etc. Look, The Irish have to get back to being better than a ‘just average football program’, which is what they have been for the past decade or a below average program, which is what they have been for the past five years, before we go too far down this road. Right now, their cachet for a conference is most all about their TV value, not because they are going to help that league win national titles.
Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said this Friday, related to the Big 12/SEC announcement: “We don’t think it has significant near-term consequences for Notre Dame.”
It doesn’t have ‘near-term consequences’ for anyone, if near term means 48 hours. But given the current season of change in college football, one that has been taking place the last two years and has seen Notre Dame do nothing while four conferences have grown and added stability, the footing the Irish find themselves on is no longer solid. They just might be the last people in the room to realize that.