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SEC, ACC, Big 12 And Others Should Push Big Ten, Pac-12 Toward Rose Bowl

Last month, most college football fans and media members rejoiced when a group of 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick made it clear that some form of a four-team college football playoff was in the works.

But last week, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman threw cold water on that playoff plan as well as on all those in favor of such a thing.  Speaking with ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg, Perlman made it clear that school presidents and chancellors would have the ultimate say in whether or not a playoff comes to pass.  More specifically, he said Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents and chancellors would have their say:

 

“It is clear the presidents will still make the final decision.  We’ve had some informal meetings, the Big Ten presidents and the Pac-12 presidents, and I think we’re largely aligned in thinking a plus-one with a different ranking after the bowl games to select No. 1 and 2 would be acceptable.  Our second choice would probably be a four-team playoff inside the bowls.  Our highest priority is to preserve the status of the Rose Bowl and our connection to it… I don’t think we would be very enthusiastic about any of the other options.” 

 

Buzz = killed.

But Perlman went on to shoot down a proposal put forth by his own league’s commissioner, Jim Delany, too.  Regarding a four-team plan that would include semifinal games played at campus sites, Nebraska’s chancellor said:

 

“I don’t think that’s acceptable to us at this point.  There would be some advantages to the Big Ten in doing it that way, but the end result would be that the bowl system and the Rose Bowl would be kind of like the NIT in basketball.  If you have a playoff system outside the bowls, it would do serious damage to the bowls. … I don’t think anybody would pay attention to the bowls…

I can’t figure out a good reason to have a playoff to start with.  We play enough football games,”

 

By ignoring the rather obvious “good reason” of beaucoup dinero, Perlman makes it clear that he’s just not a playoff guy, regardless of the potential rewards.  That’s not surprising.  Until the SEC put two teams in the BCS Championship Game and television ratings for bowls began to drop, neither were most school presidents and conference commissioners, including the Big Ten’s Delany.

Perhaps Perlman is just a lone hold-out, an old-timer who’ll fight to hold on to tradition, money be darned.  Or maybe he really is “aligned” with the majority of his fellow Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents in believing that an unseeded, Plus-One system after the bowls is the best option for college football.  (In reality, it’s the worst option.  It’s worse than the current system in fact.  Imagine two undefeated teams meeting in a bowl… and then the winner being forced to play some one-loss team in a Plus-One title game a week later.  And what about 2004?  Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Auburn would have all been tied to different bowl games and you’d still have had three undefeated teams vying for two slots even after the bowls.  It’s literally a step backward from the current system.)

Whether Perlman is clued in or clueless — and if he’s clued in, then it’s Delany who looks clueless — the rest of the college football world should encourage him and his Big Ten/Pac-12 mates to shuffle off to Pasadena and enjoy their Rose Bowl.

Seriously.

It’s time for bluffs to be called.  And if Perlman and his fellow presidents aren’t bluffing, it’s time for doors to be shown.  ”See ya… wouldn’t wanna be ya,” should be the rallying cry from every other conference commissioner and college president across the country.

Here’s why:

 

1.  The NCAA will not be put in full control over whatever new postseason format is decided upon anyway.  This won’t be a fully sanctioned, official, everybody-splits-the-revenue-evenly, NCAA basketball tourney-type of situation.  So if the Big Ten and Pac-12 want to do their own thing, the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and all the other smaller leagues and smaller schools should let them.  They can still create their own four-team playoff just as they’ve created their own bowl alliances and coalitions in the past (more on that in a minute).

2.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 would be marginalized, trivialized and further regionalized by doing their own thing.  Can you imagine the coverage a four-team seeded playoff would get in comparison to the Rose Bowl?  In 2012 there will be 125 FBS schools.  If that number held moving forward, there would be 101 schools vying for a national title via the new four-team playoff.  There would be 24 schools vying for a Rose Bowl championship.  That’s 101 versus 24.  Do the math and tell me which system would be viewed as the producer of the real football national champion.  Let’s also remember that due to the time differences, there isn’t much East Coast coverage of Pac-12 football in the first place.  You’d have America versus the Midwest and that league out West that most people don’t get to see anyway.

3.  Looking back over the last 20 seasons (1992-2011), here are the current Big Ten/Pac-12 schools that have claimed either an AP title, a coaches’ poll title, or a BCS crown: Nebraska (1994, 1995, 1997), Michigan (1997 — note that Michigan and Nebraska are now in the same conference, so one of them would be scratched from the list), Ohio State (2002), and Southern Cal (2003, 2004 — and both were NCAA tainted).  That’s it.  Now, here’s a list of all the other major title-winners over that period:  Alabama (1992, 2009, 20011), Florida State (1993, 1999), Florida (1996, 2006, 2008), Tennessee (1998), Oklahoma (2000), Miami (2001), LSU (2003, 2007), Texas (2005), Auburn (2010).  One group has but four members while the other has nine.  If the Big Ten and Pac-12 want to emphasize the fact that they don’t play football as well as most other leagues, then by all means they should stick together with their Rose Bowl.

4.  The big schools of the SEC, ACC and Big 12 would have an even easier path to the national crown minus their Big Ten and Pac-12 brethren.  More importantly, they’d have more money to share.  Oh, the TV rights for a four-team playoff wouldn’t be as high without the Rose Bowl conferences included, but you can bet the money would still be enormous.  A heckuva lot bigger than what the Rose Bowl contract would be worth, that’s for sure.

5.  That’s good news for every single school not in one of the five power conferences, too.  Everyone from Boise State to new FBS schools like Georgia State and Texas State would have a greater opportunity to make the Football Final Four and they would receive a bigger share of the money.  Again, there would be 24 fewer teams competing for spots in the playoff if the Big Ten and Pac-12 went their own way.  There would be 24 fewer slices to the total playoff-revenue pie, as well.  If anyone should be in favor of the Rose Bowl leagues splitting off it’s the little guys.  And the little guys in the West and Midwest especially.  Think Boise State wouldn’t like to take part in a national championship playoff while Oregon was confined to the Rose Bowl?  ”Have at it,” they’d say as they laughed all the way to the bank.

6.  The Rose Bowl is about tradition.  It’s a beautiful field in a beautiful setting and I try to watch it every year.  It’s a spectacle.  But I’m 41-years-old.  Today’s recruits could give a flip about the history of the Rose Bowl.  Sixty-year-old Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents?  Yes, they love it.  Eighteen-year-olds from Florida and Texas?  No.  From a recruiting standpoint, the Big Ten and Pac-12 would be setting themselves back years.  If given the choice between taking part in a college football playoff or playing in a Rose Bowl, there aren’t many top prospects who’d choose the latter over the former.  And while that would be bad news for the Big Ten — a league located in an area of country that is already growing at an alarmingly slow rate — it would be wonderful news for the other power leagues and the smaller conferences and schools.  Better to make a playoff and win a real national title at Boise State or Cincinnati than to play for a Rose Bowl berth at Wisconsin or Southern Cal.

7.  The Big 12 — even with a new commissioner who has ties to both the Big Ten and Pac-12 — should hope that the Rose Bowl leagues break away from the pack.  Want to further stabilize your conference, Bob Bowlsby?  Align yourself with the SEC, ACC and all the other schools in the country as a pro-playoff man.  As the Big Ten and Pac-12 damage their own recruiting, the Big 12 — like every other league — would stand to gain.  That’s important for a conference that currently has a footprint of just five states.

8.  All that goes for Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame, too.  If there’s any school in the country that should pray — pun intended — for a Rose Bowl breakaway it’s Notre Dame.  Suddenly the Irish would have an easier path to the Football Final Four as well as the recruiting advantage that goes with it when vying with Big Ten schools for prospects.  Add it up: an easier shot at football relevance, better recruiting, and more money.  Join a conference?  No, thanks.  The Irish would be able to survive and thrive as a lone wolf.

 

Now, we’ve actually been down this road once before.

From the 1992 through 1994, you might remember a precursor to the BCS called the Bowl Coalition.  It was a terrible system that featured the Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Gator and John Hancock bowls.  The Rose Bowl, Big Ten and Pac-12 refused to take part.

Then came the Bowl Alliance from 1995 through 1998.  It involved the Sugar, Orange and Fiesta bowls.  The SEC, ACC, Big East, Notre Dame, old Big Eight, and old SWC took part.  The Rose bowl, Big Ten and Pac-12 again steered clear.

Ah, but even though those two half-hearted attempts to define a national champion were flawed and heavily criticized, they did make money.  They did give those other bowls and those other leagues an advantage over — yep — the Rose Bowl, the Big Ten and Pac-12.  So much so that by the time the 1998 season and the January 1999 bowl season rolled around, the Rose Bowl, Big Ten and Pac-12 had all tucked their tails and signed up for the rebuilt Bowl Championship Series.

History would no doubt repeat itself.  If the those three entities learned the hard way that staying out of a hard-to-explain bowl mix was bad for business in the late-90s, what might they find if they decided to avoid a true four-team playoff system in mid-2010s?  How much damage might they do to themselves while learning that lesson?

If Perlman and his fellow presidents and chancellors in the Big Ten and Pac-12 want to go out on their own and lock arms around their beloved Rose Bowl, the rest of the college football world should encourage them to do just that.  In the end, 24 schools in two conferences would lose money, recruits and prestige.  All while at least 101 other schools would find the path to a playoff easier, the recruiting better, and the cash greener.

In other words…

Sudden Impact – Go ahead, make my day – Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan

 


11 comments
MJW
MJW

The current BCS uses the AFCA trophy (one of the two recognized championship trophies).  With out two major conferences, they will no longer be able to use the coaches trophy for the playoff winner and will have to make something up, making the playoffs even more contrived.  That would mean both the AP and Coaches trophy could be awarded to someone not the "playoff" winner.  Further, with no Big Ten and Pac-12, consider what it would have looked like (will use current conference affiliations):

 

 2010:  #1 Auburn vs #8 Arkansas (2 loss), #3 TCU vs #7 Oklahoma (2 loss).  2 conference rematches.  This has split championship written all over it, with Rose Bowl winner (#2 Oregon vs #4 Wisconsin) likely to pull either the AP or Coaches.

2008:  The playoffs would have been great with #1 Oklahoma vs #4 Alabama and #2 Florida vs. #3 Texas.  But if you think USC and Penn State (both with same number of losses as above teams) would have been marginalized, you're mistaken.  The Rose Bowl would have gotten tremendous ratings, evaluating if those teams measured up to the playoff 4, and with a remote chance of a split NC.

2007:  #1 Ohio State vs #7 USC would be largely viewed as the CG this year.  If OSU won, they would have easily been crowned champs by both the Coaches and AP, as every other contender had at least one more loss than OSU.

2006:  #1 OSU vs #5 USC in the Rose Bowl.  Again, OSU wins, they are the NC, period.  The playoffs would have been #2 Florida vs #8 Boise State and #4 LSU vs #6 Louisville.  Neither of those games even remotely moves the needle, and the likely regional Florida vs LSU  NC game would have gotten worse national ratings than a Rose Bowl with USC and OSU with NC implications on the line.

2005:  #2 Texas vs #8 Miami  and #6 Georgia vs #7 Notre Dame.  So undefeated Texas probably plays a 2 loss team (ranked no higher than 6th) for... second place.  Wow.  Meanwhile #1 USC vs #3 Penn State is again the huge ratings winner and NC game.

2004:  Again doesn't include the #1 team, USC.  So likely split championship.  Playoffs would have been #2 Texas vs #7 Georgia and #3 Auburn vs #4 Texas.  Viewership of the playoffs would have been primarily in Big-12 and SEC regions, and not national.

2003:  USC was #1 in both polls going into the NCG, but #3 in BCS.  They still would have played Michigan in the Rose Bowl, but this time they might have remained #1 in both Coaches as well as AP (since AFCA would no longer be required to vote the playoff winner Champion ).  Winner of playoff might have only received the new contrived playoff championship trophy and would have included #6 Texas and #7 Florida State

2002:  Rose Bowl #2 OSU vs #4 USC (another huge ratings winner).  Playoffs #1 Miami vs #8 Kansas State and #3 Georgia vs. #7 Oklahoma.  Another possible split championship

2001:  #1 Miami vs #7 Texas and #5 Florida vs #6 Tennessee.  The Rose Bowl might have been #2 Nebraska vs #3 Colorado (or #4 Oregon).  Another year with only one team from the top 4 in the playoffs.  If Miami wins out, they would be the NC, otherwise, expect the Rose Bowl winner to be the consensus NC.

1998:  Like 2001, if #1 and undefeated Tennessee wins the playoffs, they would have been the clear NC.  Otherwise #4 OSU vs #5 UCLA (both one loss) may have had NC implications.  Again, great Rose Bowl interest.

 

In the last 14 years, the Rose Bowl has hosted a game with NC implications only 4 times.  Under this plan, they would have had as many as 10 games with NC impact, and in many cases, games with much better national drawing power than the "other" NC game.  The value of the Rose Bowl goes up, and the PAC-12 and Big Ten keep all the money to themselves.  Further, there is no risk of being exposed by a faster SEC team.

 

So if I am the Big Ten, PAC-12, and Rose Bowl, where do I sign up?

perusual
perusual

I would argue that conference consolidation has made the Rose Bowl more viable as a standalone entity than it was in the past. 

 

The SWC is dead, the Big East is a third-class citizen, Notre Dame has been irrelevant for decades when it comes to crowning a national champion and the ACC is down and has been for a while; someone there will get their feet back under them at some point but until they do any "playoff" to crown a "national champion" is going to be all about the Big 12 and the SEC.  The only other conference who has had teams do anything is the Mountain West and all the teams who did well there are now in other conferences.  You can argue all you want about how Western Michigan has a chance but that won't change the fact that when it comes down to it it's most likely going to be all about the Big 12 and the SEC, especially if there is any truth at all to the Big 12 expansion rumors.

 

Is the combination of the SEC and Big 12 that much more credible than the Big Ten and the Pac 12?  Yes, but I don't buy that the gap is all that large.  No one's going to buy the notion that a playoff that took place without two of the four biggest and most powerful conferences participating in it is legitimate even if there's a crystal football involved and someone deigns to call it a national championship.  And I haven't even touched on the tendency for rematches to take place with so few power conferences participating in a Big Ten and Pac 12-less playoff and we know what rematches do for interest and ratings. 

 

Everyone leaves money on the table if there is no playoff so I think it will be worked out but I don't think trying to blackmail Jim Delaney is the way to get it done.  If someone really tries to call his bluff *cough* DeLoss Dodds *cough* then Mr. "Consider them rolled" just might call theirs right back.

pecarandy
pecarandy

Because a playoff would not be an NCAA sanctioned championship, the Pac12-Big10 champ could still win the AP National Championship... And, splitting the Rose Bowl money between 24 teams is going to better than splitting the 4 team tourney money with 124 FBS teams.  Pac-12 gets most of their good recruits out of California and the west coast now anyway

10Vol85
10Vol85

Please ask Jim Delaney why the Big 10 continues to insist on maintaining a partnership with the Rose Bowl.  Doesn’t he know it’s warm in southern California?  Doesn’t that put Big 10 teams at a disadvantage, especially playing in the backyard of oft-played opponent USC?  Why doesn’t the Big 10 insist on moving the bowl to Minneapolis every other year?  Better yet, why not just establish a partnership with a new bowl in Detroit or Cleveland and hook up with the Big East?  If they sell the Rose Bowl on rotating to Minneapolis, they might could sell some PAC fans on coming early to enjoy a white Christmas (while other conferences enjoy a green ($$) Christmas of sorts).

10Vol85
10Vol85

Good article which puts leverage in perspective.  It’s always easier to get the deal you want if you have other options.  (For those of you who think a homogenized NCAA divided up like the NFL is a good thing, keep that in mind.  School and conference autonomy is a good thing).  I don’t have much confidence in the college presidents so who knows what they’ll do.

ChrisWynes
ChrisWynes

I agree with Perlman's plan. Instead of a playoff, I have always favored the idea of putting teams into their "traditional" bowl assignments, playing them out that way, re-ranking based on those outcomes, and then having a plus-one game. A seeded playoff has always seemed really cheesy to me, and ESPN-words like "bracketology" need to stay the heck away from college football. If there are brackets anywhere involved, it's not college football.

Ross W
Ross W

I'm sorry to do this, but can someone tell me why the Rose Bowl would go away if a 4-team seeded playoff gets adopted?

MoKelly
MoKelly

First of all, I find it curious that Nebraska is the school making the case to save the Rose Bowl. Nebraska? There is zero history between Nebraska and the Rose Bowl. That seems wierd to me.

 

Second, the SEC should learn from this comment. The Big 10 and Pac are aligned in many ways and it looks to me they are a voting block. The SEC should lok to getting in with another Conferebce (most likely ACC) and start acting like a voting block as well. It is obvious the Big 10 and PAC care only about themselves (and weakening the SEC). So, we need to be able to block them via a similar alliance.

 

I would liove it if the Big 10/PAC's bluff was called but just don't see that as happening.

OldArmy
OldArmy

How many bowls do we have now? 20, 30.....? So the Rose Bowl has to amend its mission statement to read, "Hey, if one of the teams that should have played in the Rose Bowl gets a nod to play for the National Championship, we'll happily take the runner up for the Rose Bowl." 

 

And the resulting loss in revenue for the Rose Bowl would be.... not much, if any. People are going to tune into bowl games, cause that's what bowl games do, attract viewers. I don't normally watch the Rose Bowl. My teams don't play there as a rule. A lot of the country is like me, to include fans of those whose  teams do compete there. But, the guys who watch the Rose Bowl are going to watch it regardless of it being "like the NIT." Which is not a good analogy. If Florida is playing, I'm gonna watch. If A&M is playing, ditto. In any kind of playoff, I'm watching the SEC team. 

 

People are like that. Guys who are not team or conference focused will watch any game between good teams (which is what a bowl is supposed to bring together) and will watch the Rose Bowl. People who watch the parade, well there are just not many people I know who do that, but I suspect they won't care who is playing. Bottom line, the importance of the Rose Bowl is, IMHO, very much overblown..... well, at least in the last 20 years or so.... but that could change I suppose with Yellowstone erupting.

Sooner_Stampede
Sooner_Stampede

I can't see the ACC aligning with the SEC in regards to the playoffs. Swofford has been freaking out in regards to how revenue from the playoffs would be distributed. Swofford and the ACC want the revenue to be split completely evenly amongst the five major conferences and Slive as well as pretty much everyone else have favored a revenue distribution model based on participation in the playoffs. You can see why the ACC would be against that because if the playoffs would have been in place the past 10 years then the ACC would have made a great deal less in revenue compared to all the other major conferences and they would have even made less than the Mountain West. So if the SEC went to the ACC and said hey lets vote together on organizing the playoffs the ACC would say sure lets do it and lets all have equal revenue sharing even though we rarely will ever make the playoffs while the SEC goes pretty much every year. Do you think Slive will sit there and say you know what I don't want to make the most money out of everyone, I in fact will take a lot less money so everyone can have an equal share even if they didn't put in the work to earn it? I don't think so.

MoKelly
MoKelly

 @Sooner_Stampede OK. If not the ACC then someone. Otherwise, I am concerned the BIG10/PAC will dominate the discussions (like they already are in the media) and push through their agenda at the expense of the SEC. This process is now 100% political vs. on the field. You cannot win political battles by yourself.

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