Last night, ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy posted a quick blurb regarding the ACC’s still-to-be-finalized deal with the Orange Bowl. In it he mentioned that the bowl game — part of the six-bowl playoff rotation that’s coming in 2014 — will likely pair the ACC Champ “against either Notre Dame, an SEC or Big Ten team.”
As we’ve noted before, the new system will a) be more confusing than the old system, b) lock the small teams out of the big-boy bowls more often than the old system, and c) lead to more arguing and bickering than we’ve had under the BCS. We’re not anti-playoff, mind you… we’re just anti-this playoff format because it’s as convoluted as can be imagined.
Here’s the skinny:
* In years when the ACC champion reaches the four-team playoff, another ACC squad will take its place in the Orange Bowl.
* Notre Dame — which will now be in the ACC except for football — can still be lined up as the ACC’s opponent assuming the Irish didn’t play the bowl’s ACC representative as one of their five Atlantic Coast Conference games that season. (It’s possible the Orange Bowl could schedule a rematch, but doubtful.)
* If Notre Dame doesn’t grab that slot, the Orange Bowl could extend an invite to an SEC team (not in the playoffs and not in the “Champions” Bowl) or to a Big Ten team (not in the playoffs and not in the Rose Bowl).
* The Orange, Rose and “Champions” Bowls are already known to have locked down slots in the new playoff rotation. However the Rose and “Champions” Bowls are not likely to get as many semifinal slots in the rotation as the other bowls involved because the Big Ten/Pac-12 and the SEC/Big XII prefer to do their own thing in most years. According to CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd, two sources have already confirmed to CBS that the leagues involved in the Orange, Rose and “Champions” games “will keep all the revenue in years those bowls don’t pass through the national semifinals.” That means the smaller conferences who aren’t tied into those “contract bowls” will not receive a portion of the money made by those games. This further separates the haves from the have-nots. Instead of having a six-bowl pool of money to divvy up, there could be a four-bowl pool with the “Champions” and Rose keeping their cash in a given year. (The revenue from the national championship game would actually push the overall cash tally higher, but that contest technically won’t be a bowl game. Follow all that?)
* The site for the new “Champions” Bowl game is expected to be known in October. Houston, New Orleans and Arlington, Texas have reportedly posted the biggest bids to host the game.
* BCS Commissioners are meeting right now to determine the other six bowls in the playoff rotation and — most importantly — how the cash that will be split among leagues is actually going to be split among leagues. It would be surprising to see the MAC or C-USA, for example, get a large chunk of the revenue generated by the six-bowl (plus title game) system.
* A human selection committee will select and seed the 12 teams they feel best deserve slots in the playoffs and the remaining “big boy” bowl games. Except — you knew there’d be an except, didn’t ya? — for the “Champions” Bowl and Rose Bowl which will automatically get teams from the SEC/Big XII and Big Ten/Pac-12 respectively when those leagues place teams in the four-team playoffs.
* The committee will also assign teams to certain bowls and semifinal bowl sites which will no doubt lead to complaints from bowls (“That school’s fans are not going to travel as well!”) and from fans (“If we reach the championship game our team will have farther to travel than either of its possible opponents!”), etc, etc.
So needlessly confusing.
For the SEC, however, it all just means more money. Hypothetically speaking, Mike Slive’s league could in one season land two teams in the national semifinals, — we don’t think that’s likely as a selection committee will probably want to limit the SEC’s championship opportunities — one team in the “Champions” Bowl against a Big XII foe, and another in the Orange Bowl against an ACC squad or Notre Dame.
The rich get richer.
However, the SEC’s existing bowl partners likely won’t enjoy seeing another game jump them in the selection pecking order. All of the SEC’s bowl contracts are up after 2013, so the league will cut new pacts with several games for the 2014 season. You can expect another tie-in with a Texas-based bowl. Also, it looks like some of the league’s bottom-rung bowl partners might be outta luck when it comes to maintaining a tie to college football’s most powerful league. In the above scenario with four SEC teams making the 12-team “big bowl” rotation, some of the SEC’s lowest-tier bowl partners would lose out.
At MrSEC.com, we’re still in favor of a bowl draft (which the major conferences would never go for) and we continue to maintain that the 12 teams selected for the biggest bowls would have best been chosen by a three-tier system — one computer ranking formula, one human poll with transparent voting, and one selection panel with transparent voting.
Instead, you get the mess above. Oh, the arguments that will rage.