Thursday, June 21, 2012

Playoff “consensus” agreement demonstrates SEC dominance

image The news of a consensus agreement on a four-team, seeded playoff for college football was welcome news for most college football fans. Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive—who has been a proponent of change in major college football’s postseason for years—was particularly pleased.

“I am delighted,” Slive told reporters after yesterday’s meeting.

While the details of the commissioners’ draft model are still sketchy, SI’s Steward Mandel says that the agreement includes a selection committee that picks "best four," and which emphasizes—but does not require—conference champions.

Other sources indicate that the two semifinal games would be played in traditional bowl venues and the championship game will be bid out to cities seeking to host the event, similar to the Super Bowl.

That’s not everything Slive was asking for, but it’s pretty damned close.

Contrast the “consensus model” with what other conference commissioners were reported to have favored or expressed support for. Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany endorsed requiring the four teams to be conference champions. Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott advocated a true plus one, with the championship game to be played after the bowls. The ACC never could quite get its story straight, once advocating the best four teams; then flip flopping towards emphasis on conference championships. The Big East, well…

Only one conference and one commissioner expressed a single position and never waivered from it. That was the SEC and Mike Slive. Once the SEC’s position became clear, everyone pretty much knew what the playoff would resemble. Once it became clear that the conference with the last six BCS Champions wasn’t backing down, yesterday’s “consensus agreement” was a formality.

Either the SEC was getting most of what it wanted, or there was going to be no deal.

That’s not conceit. That’s not arrogance. That’s the truth.

At one point yesterday before the announcement that the group had reached consensus, Delany told reporters that discussions could stretch well into the summer. Pundits in the Twittersphere noted that the BCS commissioners weren’t set to begin negotiations for the new contract until September 1 and speculated that this might drag on until then.

It wouldn’t have mattered because Slive wouldn’t have budged.

The next steps include fleshing out the details of the system and putting it to the Football Bowl Subdivision presidents. It may prove more difficult for the Slive Playoff to gain consensus of the 120 CEO’s of major college football programs.

Make no mistake about it, though. It’s the SEC’s world and everyone else is just living in it.

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