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New Playoff Designed To Cover The U.S. From East To West, But Not From North to South

sad-snowmanIf you’re wondering about the complaints that will eventually — three, two, one… now — pop-up regarding the new College Football Playoff, there’s one that we’ll list as a 100% guaranteed lock.

Coming soon, fans of other conferences will bemoan the fact that four of the six bowls making up the new semifinal rotation are located in SEC states.  Trust us.  It’s coming.  And the loudest groans will rise up from Big Ten-owned Rust Belt.

For a better understanding of who the new rotation of major bowls will work, let’s look at the first three years of the plan, as sources say it will look:

 

  2014 Season   2015 Season   2016 Season
  Rose Bowl   1/1/2015 (Semifinal)   1/1/2016   1/2/2017
  Sugar Bowl   1/1/2015 (Semifinal)   1/1/2016   1/2/2017
  Orange Bowl   12/31/2014   12/31/2015 (Semifinal)   12/31/2016
  Cotton Bowl   1/1/2015   12/31/2015 (Semifinal)   1/2/2017
  Fiesta Bowl   12/31/2014   1/1/2016   12/31/2016 (Semifinal)
  Chick-fil-A Bowl   12/31/2014   12/31/2015   12/31/2016 (Semifinal)
  Championship Game   1/12/2015 (Arlington, TX)   1/11/2016 (To Be Determined)   1/9/2017 (To Be Determined)

 

As you can see, aside from Pasadena (CA) and Glendale (AZ), the majority of the major bowls and semifinals will be played in SEC territory — Arlington (TX), New Orleans (LA), Atlanta (GA), and Miami Gardens (FL).

Now, the college football bowl scene has traditionally been dominated by warm weather cities.  After all, would you rather get in a December or January vacation in the sunshine of Florida or the sleet of Detroit?  But you can unfortunately throw common sense right out the window on this one.  Big Ten fans won’t want to hear it.

There will be plenty of grumbling over the fact that Big Ten teams — and others from non-SEC leagues — will have to travel to Mike Slive’s backyard in two out of every three major games.  There will be cries that SEC teams won’t have to be tested in the elements (as if two teams playing in ideal conditions is a bad thing).  There will be whines that SEC teams involved in the new system will have more fans on hand for their teams’ games.  (While that may be true, tickets will be made readily available to everyone… and we at MrSEC.com would be willing to bet SEC fans will also dominate attendance at the Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl when their favorite teams are shipped out to those points.)

But if you’re wondering what the early favorite for “Something To Cry About” is, it’ll be that the new system is designed to feature Eastern (Miami Gardens and Atlanta), Central (Arlington and New Orleans), and Western (Glendale and Pasadena) cities, rather than Southern, Central and Northern cities.  Nevermind the fact that no Northern cities put forth bids for any of the currently slots.

On the bright side, once the FBS presidents decide on a playoff selection panel and its workings, location complaints will quickly fall down the list of things to moan about.

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Big 12 Extends Media Rights Deal; Begins To Fix Itself

In an effort to stave off total annihilation in 2011, the eight remaining Big 12 schools decided to grant the league office their media rights for a six-year period.  Such a move meant that if a school left the league, the Big 12 would still own that institution’s media rights… making it virtually impossible for any school to bolt.

Yesterday, it was reported that the rumored $2.6 billion television deals with ESPN and Fox first acknowledged in March are indeed good to go.  While still unsigned, the Big 12′s presidents — there are now 10, by the way — have agreed verbally to those contracts.  More importantly, the league has also agreed to extend the league’s grant of rights for an additional seven years. 

The takeaway: The Big 12 looked safe for at least six years before yesterday.  When these new pacts are signed and the grant of rights extended, it will look safe for 13 years.  That’s big.

Last week, the league announced the hire of new commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  Armed with a new, rich set of TV deals and 13 years worth of safety net, his next mission will be to grow the conference.  Doing so should now be easier.

Despite wild rumors that Florida State and Clemson officials are holding super-secret talks with the Big 12 conference, we continue to believe it’s far, far more likely that Louisville will be the first school to move.  While the Big 12 is starting to get steady on its feet again — after losing major brands like Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M the past couple of summers — the Big East is wobbling like the top at the end of “Inception.”  (Yeah, it wobbled.)

Just as Bowlsby was brought in to fix the Big 12, Big East commissioner John Marinatto was given the heave-ho by — it’s believed — a bloc of presidents from his league’s non-football schools.  Louisville is an all-sports Big East school.  Reportedly, Cardinal officials weren’t thrilled with yesterday’s power play by the league’s old guard.

Additionally, political ties between Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell and Oklahoma president (and former senator) David Boren almost landed Louisville in the Big 12 last fall, at West Virginia’s expense.  So some amount of groundwork has already been laid for Louisville to join the Big 12 at some point.

Adding U of L would bring the league back up to 11 members.  Even though Big 12 power brokers have said publicly that they don’t feel there’s a need to hold a Big 12 Championship Game in football, you can be sure the money such a game would generate is indeed viewed as a need privately.  So who would become school #12, allowing the league to hold a title game?

The obvious target is Notre Dame.  Texas AD DeLoss Dodds has told everyone who’ll listen that he and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick might just be able to swing a deal to bring the Irish to the Midwestern league.  Maybe, maybe not.  Notre Dame won’t move unless it believes its options as an independent have run out.  And even then, it’s more likely the administration in South Bend would rather partner academically and financially with the more academically-respected schools of the Big Ten or even the ACC.

For that reason, we think Cincinnati is a much more likely fallback option for the Big 12.  As we showed here, the Big 12 is currently a five-state league that produces very few NFL-caliber players from within its own geographic footprint.  Expanding into Ohio and the Kentuckiana region would help on that front.  Such moves would also give the Big 12 broader television appeal, even better basketball, and some much more natural rivals for new member West Virginia.

But the bottom line is this — The Big 12 is stronger today and the Big East is weaker.  That should make it easier for the Big 12 to raid the Big East for two more schools (Louisville or Cincinnati or Notre Dame) and get back to, you know, actually having 12 schools to matchup with its name and logo.

 

UPDATE — Judging from comments elsewhere on the site and emails received by yours truly, I thought it might be wise to clarify what it is exactly that makes the Big 12 more stable today than yesterday.  So for those still not clear on what was written above, it’s not the big money contracts that the Big 12 has lined up with Fox and ESPN that secure its future.  Schools have been coming and going from leagues despite previous enormous TV deals.  Those are good pacts for the Big 12, no doubt, but what actually makes the league more stable is the extension of the grant of rights.  That act binds those schools together in a much tighter way.  If a school now leaves the Big 12, the league still owns that school’s media rights for 13 years.  That is what has made the Big 12 more stable, not the mondo TV contracts.  Now, you could also argue that some leagues — like the SEC — don’t have to go that route (or even have exit fees, for that matter).  But that doesn’t change the fact that the extension of the grant of rights is a big step forward for a league that had been moving backward for the previous two offseasons.

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Mavs’ Owner Cuban Wants A Football Playoff… We Tell You Why It Won’t Happen

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants what most of you want — a college football playoff.  I do, too.  But unlike you and me, Cuban has millions of dollars to play with.  And he’s ready to toss some of that cash behind a playoff system.

“I’m actively pursuing it, but it’s only in the exploratory stage,” Cuban told The Dallas Morning News.

According to ESPNDallas.com, Cuban claims to have “talked to two athletic directors from BCS conferences who were extremely enthusiastic about the idea.”  Of course, it could be a case of those ADs just being nice to the eccentric millionaire.  Sort of like LA Rams officials with Warren Beatty’s Joe Farnsworth character in “Heaven Can Wait.”

Cuban wants to talk to a few school presidents and state senators before deciding whether or not to further pursue the plan.

“Cuban said he envisions either a 12- or 16-team playoff field with the higher seeds getting homefield advantage.  The homefield advantage, Cuban said, would ensure the college football regular-season would not lose any importance.  The bowl games could still exist under Cuban’s plan, but he said he would make it more profitable for programs to make the playoffs than a bowl.”

Cuban said, “Put $500 million in the bank and go to all the schools and pay them money as an option.  Say, ‘Look, I’m going to give you X amount every five years.  In exchange, you say if you’re picked for the playoff system, you’ll go.’”

Sounds nice.  But it won’t happen.

There are simply too many obstacles to overcome for someone to set-up and fund a 12- to 16-team playoff right out of the gate.  If a playoff comes, it will eventually come in the form of a “plus-one” game that will create a pair of semifinals and one finals.

Two years ago, we spoke with one of the nation’s top sports marketing gurus — Bill Schmidt, former VP of Worldwide Marketing for Gatorade — about what it would take to create a playoff.  In fact, we came up with our own serious, detailed plan for a playoff.  (Not one of those “just use 15 bowl games” cocktail napkin-type plans, either.)  But no matter how we played with the variables, there was always one too many negatives to overcome.

For those who haven’t seen our plan — and want to know exactly why a playoff won’t workclick here. (And remember this was written two years ago, before conference expansion and the forced dismantling of the Big 12 Championship Game. )

The biggest hurdle to a playoff is this — BCS conferences control the bulk of bowl money in the current system.  That insures that they’ll also continue to be the biggest powers in the college football world.

If a playoff is created — like the NCAA basketball tournament, for example — the NCAA would have to sanction the event.  And the revenue from such an event would be spread evenly among the NCAA’s schools.  Utah State’s cut (even if it doesn’t reach the playoff) would be close to that of Alabama.  Now why would Alabama, for example, go along with that?

Even if Alabama’s overall revenue went up, Utah State’s revenue would go up exponentially.  Bye-bye monetary advantage.  Bye-bye power.  Won’t happen.

Under Cuban’s plan, would he pay every FBS program an “if you’re picked you’ll join us” fee… or just the big boy schools?  If just the big boy schools, expect lawsuits and harrumphing politicians.  If everyone, then we’re right back to the haves allowing the have-nots to catch up.  Result?  Won’t happen.

I’m glad to see someone pushing a serious idea for a playoff.  I’d love to see one.  But it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

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2010 LSU And SEC Bowl Projections

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It’s likely to be the big question repeated ad nauseum over the next few days for all us Tiger fans, so lets break it down. Since there is only 1 SEC game to be played, we’ll do a few sets of projections based on both possible outcomes.

 

But first, the bowl selection order for the SEC (Yes, I am holding on to the old bowl names as long as there is a breath in my body)

  1. BCS
  2. Citrus (Capitol One)[Best available after BCS]
  3. Cotton [Best available West]
  4. Hall of Fame (Outback) [Best available East]
  5. Peach (Chick Fil A)
  6. Gator
  7. Music City [Pick order interchangeable to provide a better matchup as determined by SEC]
  8. Liberty [Pick order interchangeable to provide a better matchup as determined by SEC]
  9. Dixie (BBVA Compass, formerly PapaJohns.com)

The list can go either way depending on if SCar can pull the upset, but the conference is at least in the enviable position of having 10 bowl-eligible teams. Only Vandy and Ole Miss will stay home this year (Say it again, it makes you feel good every time you say it.)

Shreveport residents take note that the Indy bowl is no longer a tie-in for either the SEC or the Big 12. Instead you get ACC #7 vs Mountain #3, which I’m going to project as North Carolina (7-5) vs San Diego State (8-4). It should be noted that Boston College could be chosen as the ACC opponent instead and that SD State is actually the MWC #4, but moves up due to TCU’s projected Rose Bowl berth.

Scenario #1 Auburn wins

  1. Auburn (BCS – Championship Game) v BCS #2
  2. Arkansas (BCS – Sugar) v BCS at large (likely Ohio St.)
  3. LSU (Citrus) v Big Ten best after BCS (Mich St.)
  4. Bama (Cotton) v Big 12 best after BCS (loser of B12 champ game, Neb or OU)
  5. S Car (Hall of Fame) v B10 best after Citrus (Iowa)
  6. Miss St (Peach) v ACC Champ game loser (VT or FSU)
  7. Florida (Gator) v B10 #4 or #5 (Illinois)
  8. Tennessee (Music City) v ACC #6 (BC or UNC)
  9. Georgia (Liberty) v C-USA Champ (UCF or SMU)
  10. Kentucky (Dixie) v Big East #5 (Pitt, USF, or UL)

Lots of caveats to the above. If ILL beats Fresno St. this week, they could swap with Iowa (same record, no head-to-head), depriving us of seeing ZOOK face UF in Jacksonville. The Music and Liberty Bowls are both in Tennessee, but the Music has expressed interest in bringing the Vols to Nashville, so I see the SEC making that happen, even though UGA has a head-to-head win. And for sheer insanity, remember that Pitt could also win the Big East title this weekend. Wannstache, you sly dog.

Mich St. is the #3 B10 team, but the loser of the 3 way tie for the B10 title only because of BCS rankings. Dantonio has already given himself a heart attack because of a game, imagine what Les will do to him (too soon?) It will be the 3rd Big 10 Team Les Miles has faced in a bowl as LSU head coach (4th if you want to count Notre Dame)

 

Scenario #2 Auburn loses and is pushed out of the Championship Game

  1. S Car (BCS – Sugar) v BCS at large (likely Ohio St.)
  2. Auburn (BCS – Rose ) v BCS B10 Champ (Wisconsin)
  3. Arkansas (Citrus) v Big Ten best after BCS (Mich St.)
  4. LSU (Cotton) v Big 12 best after BCS (loser of B12 champ game, Neb or OU)
  5. Florida (Hall of Fame) v B10 best after Citrus (Iowa)
  6. Bama (Peach) v ACC Champ game loser (VT or FSU)
  7. Miss St. (Gator) v B10 #4 or #5 (Illinois)
  8. Tennessee (Music City) v ACC #6 (BC or UNC)
  9. Georgia (Liberty) v C-USA Champ (UCF or SMU)
  10. Kentucky (Dixie) v Big East #5 (Pitt, USF, or UL)

Thanks to their passing of Oregon last night for the BCS #1, there is some speculation that Auburn could still make the title game. Let’s assume for now that they don’t, but are still ranked high enough to get an at-large spot. Auburn becomes the 4th SEC team to ever go to the Rose. Everyone gets knocked down a peg, and we get a potential match-up with a pissed off Bo Pelini and Neb squad in the Jerry Dome. 

Scenario #3 Auburn loses and is NOT pushed out of the Championship Game

  1. S Car (BCS – Sugar) v BCS at large (likely Ohio St.)
  2. Auburn (BCS – Championship) v BCS #1
  3. Arkansas (Citrus) v Big Ten best after BCS (Mich St.)
  4. LSU (Cotton) v Big 12 best after BCS (loser of B12 champ game, Neb or OU)
  5. Florida (Hall of Fame) v B10 best after Citrus (Iowa)
  6. Bama (Peach) v ACC Champ game loser (VT or FSU)
  7. Miss St. (Gator) v B10 #4 or #5 (Illinois)
  8. Tennessee (Music City) v ACC #6 (BC or UNC)
  9. Georgia (Liberty) v C-USA Champ (UCF or SMU)
  10. Kentucky (Dixie) v Big East #5 (Pitt, USF, or UL)

Not much change (though TCU fans will be pissed) if you’re a fan of the BCS looking so stupid that it breaks, this is your dream scenario.

Scenario #4 Auburn loses and is pushed out of the BCS

  1. S Car (BCS – Sugar) v BCS at large (likely Ohio St.)
  2. Auburn (Citrus) v Big Ten best after BCS (Mich St.)
  3. Arkansas (Cotton) v Big 12 best after BCS (loser of B12 champ game, Neb or OU)
  4. Florida (Hall of Fame) v B10 best after Citrus (Iowa)
  5. LSU (Peach) v ACC Champ game loser (VT or FSU)
  6. Bama (Gator) v B10 #4 or #5 (Illinois)
  7. Miss St. (Liberty) v C-USA Champ (UCF or SMU)
  8. Tennessee (Music City) v ACC #6 (BC or UNC)
  9. Georgia (Dixie) v Big East #5 (Pitt, USF, or UL)
  10. Kentucky ???? (no bowl tie-in left, will fill empty spot somewhere else)

A real nightmare here as everyone falls down 2 pegs. In a year when the West is clearly better than the East, It’s S Car that is the lone BCS team. We’ll see an ACC team in the GA Dome to bookend the year, Miss St. falls all the way to the Liberty (Music still would have the ability to pull UT), UGA goes to Birmingham, and Kentucky fills an empty slot somewhere. Remember that this only happens if Auburn loses badly enough to drop all the way out of the BCS. We are talking a collapse of epic proportions.

Scenario #5 Auburn wins and Cam Newton Ruled Ineligible, Wins Vacated.

  1. Arkansas (BCS – Sugar) v BCS at large (likely Ohio St.)
  2. LSU (Citrus) v Big Ten best after BCS (Mich St.)
  3. Bama (Cotton) v Big 12 best after BCS (loser of B12 champ game, Neb or OU)
  4. S Car (Hall of Fame) v B10 best after Citrus (Iowa)
  5.  Florida(Peach) v ACC Champ game loser (VT or FSU)
  6.  Miss St.(Gator) v B10 #4 or #5 (Illinois)
  7.  Georgia (Liberty) v C-USA Champ (UCF or SMU)
  8. Tennessee (Music City) v ACC #6 (BC or UNC)
  9.  Kentucky(Dixie) v Big East #5 (Pitt, USF, or UL)

Scenario #6 Auburn loses and Cam Newton Ruled Ineligible, Wins Vacated.

  1. S Car (BCS – Sugar) v BCS at large (likely Ohio St.)
  2. Arkansas (Citrus) v Big Ten best after BCS (Mich St.)
  3. LSU (Cotton) v Big 12 best after BCS (loser of B12 champ game, Neb or OU)
  4. Florida (Hall of Fame) v B10 best after Citrus (Iowa)
  5. Bama (Peach) v ACC Champ game loser (VT or FSU)
  6. Miss St. (Gator) v B10 #4 or #5 (Illinois)
  7. Georgia (Liberty) v C-USA Champ (UCF or SMU)
  8. Tennessee (Music City) v ACC #6 (BC or UNC)
  9. Kentucky (Dixie) v Big East #5 (Pitt, USF, or UL)

Here’s a fun exercise. The only difference in either is that Auburn isn’t bowling. (Not trolling, Auburn fans, just laying out the hypothetical. We all know the NCAA won’t be able to rule Cam ineligible until after Auburn wins the championship).

(OK, trolling just a bit there)

 

Alternate projections are welcome in the comments below (LSU v A&M in the Cotton is a popular one, but not likely unless the B-12 pulls some shenanigans to screw with Nebraska) Those looking to get a head start on scouting potential opponents should start with these blogs:

Mich St. The Only Colors

Nebraska Corn Nation

OU Crimson And Cream Machine

VT Gobbler Country

FSU Tomahawk Nation


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