Friday afternoon, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive and outgoing Big 12 Commissioner announced a five-year agreement to send their conference champions to an as-yet unnamed New Years Day bowl, if those conference champions are left out of the pending four-team playoff being considered by the college football powers that be.
With one press release, Mike Slive shows why he is the Jedi Master of The Deal and Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany is just another politician.
The deal with the Big 12 does four things:
- It virtually guarantees that the conference champions of the two most dominant and demographically dynamic conferences will meet in the postseason, whether that’s in the four team playoff that is poised to replace the BCS or in the Unnamed Bowl.
- It guarantees that if the selection process somehow finds a way to screw the Big 12 and SEC champs out of berths in the final four, it creates a path for the winner of the Unnamed Bowl to be named the Associated Press National Champions. It weakens the credibility of the Delany-driven four team selection process.
- It places intense new pressure on Notre Dame to join a conference. Delany’s insistence on “conference champions only” in the final four is one thing. Cutting Notre Dame out of a second major postseason matchup with national championship implications is another matter entirely. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick brushed off Friday’s development, telling the NY Times Pete Thamel that the deal had no near term implications. pffft.
- It places new competitive pressure on the Sugar Bowl, an event that traditionally hosts the SEC champion. In the BCS era however, the Sugar only hosts the SEC champion if it was hosting the BCS Championship Game or the SEC champ wasn’t playing for the title. Now, the Sugar Bowl may have to compete with another venue. There happens to be a big one just outside of Dallas.
Delany and PAC-12 Commissioner Larry Scott have both expressed strong desire to maintain their relationship with the Rose Bowl, which itself had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the BCS rotation. Their goal is to have at least one of the semifinal games in the new playoff played in Pasadena (assuming that the Big 10 and PAC-12 can both get teams in the four team field).
Hypothetically, a scenario is possible wherein the Big 10, PAC-12 and ACC all get final four berths along with Notre Dame at large. While that hasn’t happened yet, it’s certainly within the realm of possibilities. This is especially true if teams not named Notre Dame must be conference champs and the teams are selected by a human committee in some smoky backroom in Indianapolis. The folks who’ve watched six straight SEC teams win the BCS Championship were drooling over this; praying for it to happen, even.
Until Friday afternoon.
In the doomsday scenario above, a highly ranked SEC team will play a highly ranked Big 12 team on New Year’s Day, in prime time. Maybe the winning team won’t hoist a crystal ball, but it might host the AP Trophy while the two conferences rake in the cash.
Your move, Jim Delany.