unrealo that somebody would want the current mess to go on.regional playoffs final four/title game at neutral site and not always in sec country either
Regular readers of this site know that over the years we’ve occasionally mentioned the following tidbits:
1. We’re no fans of conference tie-ins with bowls. We understand the business of it — conferences are guaranteed slots and money, bowls are guaranteed dancing partners and visiting fans — but we don’t enjoy watching the same games year after year after year. If you’re reading this site, you’re likely an SEC fan. So “SEC versus Big Ten” in three Florida bowls every January 1st afternoon is probably just as old to you as it is to us. Seriously, doesn’t it seem as though Georgia and Michigan State have played each other in about five straight bowls?
2. We say open up the bowls just like the old days. You remember… back when an SEC school might go to Atlanta one year, El Paso the next, and then on to Jacksonville the next. There was always some new opportunity and the suspense of learning a team’s bowl fate was part of the late-season fun. That said, the only negative with the old system involved under-the-table agreements made in early-November. Inevitably, some team would sign on with a bowl, then lose its last two or three games to turn what looked to be a great matchup into a total yawner.
3. The way around that problem would be to create a bowl draft, if you will. No backdoor deals. Just a live, on-air draft — think ESPN wouldn’t air that? — involving all of the bowls based on their combined payouts.
Right now would be a great time to put the MrSEC plan into action, too. At the end of the 2014 season, college football will launch a new age. Two bowls will act as national semifinals in a first-ever FBS playoff. The four participants in the playoff will be selected by a committee. That selection committee will also fill four more bowls with the next eight best teams in the country. The semifinals will rotate through the same six bowls X amount of times over a 12-year period, depending on the game. It’s believed three of those “big six” bowls will be played on New Year’s Eve and three more on New Year’s Day.
Those six bowls will likely include the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Cotton Bowl. One of those will become the new SEC/Big XII “Champions” Bowl. For argument’s sake, let’s say the Cotton becomes the “Champions” Bowl. That leaves one more slot available in those six major games and we’ll tab the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta for the final spot. From their kickoff games to the SEC Championship Game to their postseason bowl, the capital city of Georgia is pretty proactive when it comes to college football. Now, the Outback Bowl in Tampa or the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Houston) could work their way into that sixth slot, too, but again — for the sake of argument — we’ll just pretend Atlanta gets the nod.
So six games are off the table: Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton (“Champions”), and Chick-fil-A. There will be no BCS National Championship Game in the new format as the winners of the semifinals will meet in a title game that will be bid out to a different host city each year. So that’s one less bowl than we have now. We’re left with 28 additional bowls to be filled.
Just imagine this scenario: On the Sunday following the conference championship games in 2014, the selection committee and representatives from all 34 bowls are seated inside one massive theater (a la the NFL draft). The committee members announce their picks for the four big bowls. Then they announce the participants in the two semifinal bowls.
With 12 teams off the draft board, the remaining bowl committees start poring over their data. They know which teams are ranked highest. They know which schools travel best. They know which schools bring in the biggest television ratings. Armed with that info, the final 28 bowls begin picking their matchups… either for good TV numbers to satisfy their title sponsors or for tourism dollars to please their civic leaders.
It would be a combination of college basketball’s Selection Sunday and the NFL draft. Millions would watch.
The selection order for the draft portion of the event would be determined by the combined payout of each game. The more a bowl pays out to the schools it invites, the higher it’s slot in the draft would be.
Now let’s have a little fun just to see how this would all work.
We’ll use Jerry Palm’s 2012 preseason rankings as our guide. We’ll act as though his ratings are dead-on and that his top 68 teams will all finish bowl eligible. Then we’ll try to imagine how each bowl committee would pick its teams from there. Further, let’s assume that the bowl tie-ins for the big games will look like this: Rose (Big Ten/Pac-12 champs), Cotton (SEC/Big XII champs), Orange (ACC champ/Notre Dame with 9 wins or more). Other leagues like the Mountain West or Big East might line up spots for their champions, too, but for now we’ll just lock in those five leagues and Notre Dame as there has already been plenty of speculation that that’s exactly what will eventually happen. That would leave the Sugar, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A wide open for selection committee assignments.
Here’s how we think a bowl lineup created by a selection panel and draft would look. Just to be clear, we’re using Palm’s 2012 projections, 2012′s bowl lineup and combined payout numbers, 2014′s assumed playoff and “big bowl” plan, plus our own idea of a draft for the remaining 28 smaller bowls. For kicks, we’ll give the first semifinals to the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls. Also, in this scenario we’ll pretend Notre Dame does not win nine games and gain entry to the Orange Bowl. Here goes…
|Tostitos Fiesta Bowl||Semifinalists picked by panel||Glendale, AZ||2 Southern Cal vs 3 Alabama|
|Allstate Sugar Bowl||Semifinalists picked by panel||New Orleans, LA||1 LSU vs 4 Oklahoma|
|Discover Orange Bowl||ACC vs Panel Pick||Miami Gardens, FL||Florida State vs South Carolina|
|AT&T Cotton (“Champions” Bowl)||SEC vs Big XII||Arlington, TX||Georgia vs West Virginia|
|Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO||Big Ten vs Pac-12||Pasadena, CA||Michigan vs Oregon|
|Chick-fil-A Bowl||Panel Pick vs Panel Pick||Atlanta, GA||Arkansas vs Clemson|
|Outback Bowl||Draft 1 ($7.0m)||Tampa, FL||Wisconsin vs Texas|
|Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl||Draft 2 ($6.65m)||Tempe, AZ||Ohio State vs Oklahoma State|
|Valero Alamo Bowl||Draft 3 ($6.35m)||San Antonio, TX||Michigan State vs TCU|
|TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl||Draft 4 ($5.45m)||Jacksonville, FL||Virginia Tech vs Nebraska|
|Capital One Bowl||Draft 5 ($4.55m)||Orlando, FL||Kansas State vs Florida|
|Russell Athletic Bowl||Draft 6 ($4.55m)||Orlando, FL||Auburn vs Notre Dame|
|Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl||Draft 7 ($4.15m)||San Diego, CA||Boise State vs Stanford|
|Hyundai Sun Bowl||Draft 8 ($4.0m)||El Paso, TX||Utah vs Baylor|
|Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl||Draft 9 ($3.725m)||Nashville, TN||Missouri vs Louisville|
|New Era Pinstripe Bowl||Draft 10 ($3.6m)||New York, NY||Iowa vs Rutgers|
|Belk Bowl||Draft 11 ($3.4m)||Charlotte, NC||North Carolina vs Mississippi State|
|Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas||Draft 12 ($3.4m)||Houston, TX||Texas A&M vs Houston|
|AutoZone Liberty Bowl||Draft 13 ($2.875m)||Memphis, TN||Tennessee vs Georgia Tech|
|AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl||Draft 14 ($2.3m)||Shreveport, LA||Southern Miss vs South Florida|
|MAACO Bowl Las Vegas||Draft 15 ($2.2m)||Las Vegas, NV||Washington vs Illinois|
|TicketCity Bowl||Draft 16 ($2.2m)||Dallas, TX||UCLA vs Penn State|
|Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman||Draft 17 ($2.0m)||Washington, DC||Navy vs Virginia|
|BBVA Compass Bowl||Draft 18 ($1.925m)||Birmingham, AL||Northwestern vs UCF|
|Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl||Draft 19 ($1.675m)||San Francisco, CA||California vs BYU|
|Little Caesars Pizza Bowl||Draft 20 ($1.5m)||Detroit, MI||Purdue vs Arizona|
|GoDaddy.com Bowl||Draft 21 ($1.5m)||Mobile, AL||Arkansas State vs Cincinnati|
|Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl||Draft 22 ($1.3m)||Honolulu, HI||Pittsburgh vs San Diego State|
|Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl||Draft 23 ($1.2m)||Ft. Worth, TX||Louisiana Tech vs Nevada|
|Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg||Draft 24 ($1.075m)||St. Petersburg, FL||FIU vs Western Michigan|
|San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl||Draft 25 ($1.0m)||San Diego, CA||Fresno State vs Northern Illinois|
|R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl||Draft 26 ($1.0m)||New Orleans, LA||Ohio vs Louisiana-Lafayette|
|Gildan New Mexico Bowl||Draft 27 ($.912m)||Albuquerque, NM||Bowling Green vs Tulsa|
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Draft 28 ($.65m)||Boise, ID||Wyoming vs Toledo|
One can argue over whether a certain bowl would pick Team A over Team B, but that’s not the point of this exercise. The goal is to show that with an open, draft-like system, fans could visit more cities, teams could face more varied foes, and bowls could create more desirable matchups.
Will something like this ever come to pass? Never say never. After all, in two years we are getting a playoff and no one would have dreamed a year ago that that could or would turnaround so quickly.
With conferences now looking to control more of the cash by owning their own games, it’s likely that the old “you have to guarantee us you’ll sell 10,000 tickets” days are over. The schools have more of the power in the new system. So the bowls might not put up as much squawk over losing those automatic conference tie-ins as one might think.
And if a draft forced bowls to up the amount of money they pay out, schools and conferences might be willing to part with the guaranteed tie-ins, too.
Likely? No. But we certainly believe our plan would make for a more interesting postseason year-in and year-out.