Given the consolidation of power in college football over the past couple of years, highlighted by realignment moves and TV deals, I suppose the following bit of news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
That said, it’s an interesting move nonetheless.
First reported by Tony Barnhart, the Big 12 and SEC have agreed to a five-year postseason alliance beginning following the 2014 season that will pair the champion of each conference in a to-be-determined bowl game separate from the four-team playoff that is inevitably coming. In the (likely) event that one or both of the conference champions from each league is in the playoff, “another deserving team” will be selected.
“A new January bowl tradition is born,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. “This new game will provide a great matchup between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model. Most importantly, it will provide our student-athletes, coaches and fans with an outstanding bowl experience.”
“Our goal is to provide the fans across the country with a New Year’s Day prime-time tradition,” said acting Big 12 Conference Commissioner Chuck Neinas. “This is a landmark agreement between two of the most successful football conferences during the BCS era to stage a postseason event. The creation of this game featuring the champions of the Big 12 and SEC will have tremendous resonance in college football.”
Two sites that have already been connected to the agreement are the Dallas Cowboys stadium and the Sugar Bowl, with the latter being named specifically by CBSSports. In related news, the Fiesta Bowl, which has hosted the Big 12 champion vs. an at-large, is sweating.
According to the Sporting News, the goal of new bowl is to be a stand-alone game with its own TV contract and “unthinkable” revenue potential.
The easiest comparison to the alliance is the Rose Bowl, which has conference tie-ins to the Big Ten and Pac-12. But, unlike the Rose Bowl, the agreement for a postseason game between the Big 12 and SEC champs has no precedence. History shows in the last 10 years, at least one of the champions of the Big 12 or SEC finished in the top four of the final regular-season BCS rankings, and consequently, would’ve been involved in a playoff semifinal had major college football supported that format.
Go back further and the same results apply all the way to the formation of the Big 12 in 1996.
The point is this is nothing more than a security blanket for each conference to ensure the best possible matchup in the extremely unlikely event that the champion from at least one of the leagues is left out of a four-team playoff. Should a playoff consist of only four conference champs, those odds decrease even more.
If anything, the agreement is a symbol of what college football has become: a separation of four powerful conferences from everybody else.
The ramifications of such are widespread. The Big East? Out, of course. The ACC? Also on shaky ground. The Florida State-to-Big 12 rumors have flared and cooled over the past week or so, but this latest news surely reignites the speculation in a way that wasn’t there before.
How about independent Notre Dame? To be determined.
“We don’t think it has significant near-term consequences for Notre Dame,” AD Jack Swarbrick said.
But long-term? That’s not as clear.
And to think some of us [/raises hand] naively thought the realignment mess was dormant.