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Florida’s Bowl Costs Show Why Major Conferences Are Changing The System

empty_pocketsWhen the SEC and Big XII announced that they would be partnering up to create their own new “Champions Bowl,” it marked a new day in the history of college football’s bowl system.  A good day for conferences and schools.  A bad day for bowl games.

Eventually, the Sugar Bowl beat out the Cotton Bowl to become the “Champions Bowl” (which will first be played in 2014).  The top teams from the SEC and Big XII not already in the College Football Playoff will meet in New Orleans.  For the first time, the vast majority of revenue from a bowl game will go to the leagues, not the game.

More conferences are now mulling whether or not to create their own games or — as the SEC and Big XII have done in New Orleans — partially take over an existing one.  So why make such a massive shift in the college football bowl structure?  Just look to this past year’s Sugar Bowl.

In January an 11-1 Florida team was invited to New Orleans to play Louisville.  The Gators appeared no more excited about facing the Cardinals than their fans did about watching that game.  Louisville won the contest.  Few UF fans showed up in the Superdome to witness it.

Florida sold fewer than 7,000 of the 17,500 tickets that were allotted to the school.  “Allotted” is an interesting word when it comes to bowl talk.  While it sounds like a gift of some sort, the reality is that Florida was on the hook to buy each of those 17,500 tickets.  Meaning the school had to eat about 10,000 tickets.  And that played a large role in Florida losing $840,000 for its trip to last season’s Sugar Bowl.

Some reward.

As it negotiates new contracts with all of its existing bowl partners — and potential new bowl partners — the SEC is pushing for lower ticket guarantees.  That change has already been built into the new playoff.  The major bowls in the College Football Playoff will require only 12,500 tickets to be sold rather than the 17,500 required by the Sugar Bowl.

Once the new SEC/Big XII co-owned Sugar Bowl launches after next season, the leagues will have a working model to represent their vision a new conference-bowl relationship.  That will give the biggest conferences even more leverage over the bowls and — if the game’s a money-maker — even more incentive to rejigger the entire college football bowl system.

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WOW Evening Headlines – 11/7/12

Kentucky’s announced attendance last Saturday against Vanderbilt was 44,092 – actual attendance was 18,885
Auburn football hires security firm to enforce curfews
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin asked Wednesday if he’s getting interest from other schools: “We don’t get into that”
Georgia coach Mark Richt will need offseason hip replacement surgery
Texas A&M O-Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury on rumors tying him to Kentucky’s job: “I’m just trying to get a first down against Alabama.”
Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri on Derek Dooley taking a more active role in the defense: ““He’s the boss. I think it will be good,”
Florida might start using more no-huddle to spark its struggling offense
Georgia QB Aaron Murray on the prospects of facing Alabama in the SEC title game: “I bet they’re going to be huge favorites going into the game, and rightly so.”
Keep up with all the news from across the SEC on and on twitter at

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Wow Evening Headlines 11/6/2012

New Orleans will be the site of the new marquee bowl game between the Southeastern Conference and Big 12
Speaking for the first time since getting fired, Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Tuesday, “I’m not bitter by any means, I appreciate the opportunity”
Florida’s Will Muschamp says he would support O-Coordinator Brent Pease for the head coaching job at Kentucky
Arkansas adds Michigan to future schedules, home-and-home games scheduled for 2018 and 2019
Georgia DE Abry Jones will miss the rest of the season due to an ankle injury
Another injury on Missouri’s offensive line insures that only freshman Evan Boehm will start each Tiger game this season
Tennessee’s Derek Dooley says he’ll commit more of his own focus to the Vols’ porous defense moving forward
If South Carolina wins out this season, Steve Spurrier will become the school’s all-time winningest coach
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace has missed at least one practice this week with a shoulder injury
Alabama’s Nick Saban on Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel: “This guy reminds me of Doug Flutie.”
Mississippi State freshman basketballer Andre Applewhite has been lost for the season to an ACL injury
Follow the SEC every single day at and

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Report: “Champions” Bowl Goes To Sugar Bowl And New Orleans

I have no idea if the guy I voted for today will be President of the United States tomorrow, but if ESPN’s sources are correct, at least I can go to bed knowing that one race has gone the way I wanted.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy is reporting that the SEC and Big XII have decided to place the “Champions” Bowl in New Orleans, meaning that the “Champions” Bowl will be known as the Sugar Bowl when it pits Big XII versus SEC on January 1st, 2015.








New Orleans and the Superdome outbid Arlington, Texas and Cowboys Stadium for the right to host the game.

New Orleans is the better tourist destination — no offense to the Metroplex — and the Superdome has hosted just about every major sporting event in America at one time or another.  It’s also about as close to the geographic center of the two leagues as you could get (while still remaining in a warm city).

McMurphy reports that the leagues will indeed receive $80 million from ESPN as expected… the same cash amount paid out to the Rose Bowl.  One gets bank because it’s been around for a century.  The other gets mucho cash because it’s home to the two best leagues of the BCS era.

Good call, SEC and Big XII.  The best site won.

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“Champions” Bowl Announcement Coming Soon

It’s Thursday and people are starting to get a little froggy about the “Champions” Bowl announcement that the SEC and Big XII had said they’d make this week.  No press releases came on Monday.  No press conferences were called on Tuesday.  No news broke yesterday.

But SEC associate commissioner Mark Womack says a decision between the Cotton Bowl in Arlington and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans is coming soon:


“We’re not quite there yet.  The goal was to try to get it done this week.  Whether that will be the case or not, we’re still not quite sure on that.”


We were told by someone in the SEC office yesterday afternoon that it’s still hoped a decision will be announced by the end of the week.

According to The Baton Rouge Advocate, the delay seems to revolve around the number of times the “Champions” Bowl will serve as national semifinal game during the 12-year playoff run that will kick off after the 2014 season.  Womack admitted that getting the SEC, Big XII and ESPN on the same page is tricky:


“Getting two different conferences to work things out and having all of our ADs on board is a little more time-consuming…

“We are talking about a long-term, major deal here.  And we need to have everybody on board and in agreement.  But we’re hopeful to have it done soon.”


Better hurry, guys.  In our microwave society, people want their news yesterday.

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SEC Schools Will Have More Cash Rolling In If They Want To Fire Coaches

Today, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Tennessee would have to pay between $5.6 and $9.3 million to eject Derek Dooley and his staff from their jobs in Knoxville this season.  If Auburn chose to blow up Gene Chizik, he and his staff would have large buyouts as well (the head coach’s alone is believed to be $7.5 million).  Kentucky would have to fork over cash to Joker Phillips and his coaches as well.

But keep in mind that Southeastern Conference schools are about to come into some new money.  A lot of new money.

Starting in 2014, the SEC will begin to reap the financial rewards from its new “Champions” Bowl game with the Big XII.  In addition the biggest chunks of revenue from the television contract for the new college football playoff will be doled out to the biggest conferences… and the SEC is one of those big leagues.  By 2014, the SEC will have also cut new deals with all of its bowl partners, adding some new ones, re-upping with some old ones.  Expect those new agreements to require less ticket buy-back plans which will mean some SEC schools won’t actually lose money when they take large traveling parties to holiday contests.

In addition, an industry source told this week that he expects the SEC’s new television deals (CBS, ESPN and a new SEC Network) to be worth an extra $10 to $15 million per school per year.

Add it all up and all 14 SEC schools should have more money spilling from their vaults — a lot more money — beginning in 2014.  Might that impact the decisions schools make in 2012 regarding their current coaches?  You’d certainly think so.

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Big XII Commish Talks Playoff, Make-Up Of Selection Committee, New “Champions” Bowl

Big XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby said yesterday that by “sweating all the details” the college football leaders working on the sport’s new playoff will keep the regular-season relevant and distribute revenue fairly.  “I’m confident we’re going to get it right by the time it’s all done,” he said.

He also revealed what the current thinking on the selection committee’s make-up is:


“Some of them will be active people currently in the profession [and] retired people.  I’m probably a little more trusting than some others might by having gone through the basketball committee process.  The basketball process is a very honorable process.  If you have a dog in the fight, you leave the room.  You don’t try to influence the other people in the room for your own benefit.  This will be the same way.

Will it be harder to come up with four teams than it is to come up with 68 [in basketball]?  Yeah.  Would we be any less confident in terms of integrity?  No.”


Bowlsby said he expects the number of panelists on the committee to be about 18.

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SEC Could Have Teams In Playoff, Champions Bowl And Orange Bowl Under Reported Deal

Last night,’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’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, 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.

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WOW Morning Headlines – 9/7/12

LSU starting LT Chris Faulk will reportedly miss the season with a knee injury
Alabama’s Nick Saban on available tickets vs W. Kentucky: “We can’t sell out with all the games we’ve won?”
Houston has reportedly put in a bigger bid to host the “Champions” Bowl than Arlington or New Orleans
Tennessee is paying nonconference foes Ga. State, Akron and Troy more than $2 million to visit Knoxville
Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart: “We want people in the stands, but we’ve got to earn that back.”
Two W. Kentucky players promise a victory at top-ranked Alabama on Saturday
Follow all 14 SEC schools and their recruiting efforts every day on and

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Report: Houston Puts In Highest Bid For “Champions” Bowl

Longtime national sportswriter Mark Blaudschun is reporting on his own blog that Houston — not Arlington, not New Orleans, not Atlanta — has offered up the biggest pile of cash for the right to host the SEC/Big XII’s new “Champions” Bowl. 

Unfortunately, there are still a lot more unknowns than knowns when it comes to the leagues’ new game, which will kick off at the end of the 2014 season.  Will the game be played in one city each year taking on the name of that city’s bowl?  Will the “Champions” Bowl rotate between cities as was once expected when the game was first announced pre-playoffs.  Now with a playoff on the horizon, will there be a way to lock in a bowl rotation for the “Champions” Bowl inside the overall rotation of games hosting the semifinals and finals?

Blaudschun cites “source familiar with the bidding process” as saying that Houston, Dallas (Arlington), and New Orleans made the three highest bids overall.  Atlanta and San Antonio had also planned to put in bids, but — apparently — their bids were lower.  At least according to Blaudschun.

As we’ve stated before, until the details of the playoff are worked out, it’s going to be difficult for the SEC and Big XII to move forward with their own plans for the “Champions” Bowl.  And either way, the new set-up will wind up being more convoluted and confusing for fans than the old BCS means of selecting teams and games.


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