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ESPN’s Herbstreit Says SEC Fans Should Take Losses As A Group Just As They Do Wins

gfx - honest opinionOn the long list of things that sports fans get angry about these days — and it’s a long damn list — those of us here at MrSEC.com find one item hard to grasp.  Southeastern Conference fans take pride in the fact their league has won title after title after title in college football.  Seven in a row at this point.  And next Spring, SEC squads will once again send more prospects into the pro ranks than any other league.  Again, SEC fans will whoop, holler and brag.

Well, for some reason, that doesn’t sit well with people outside the South at all.

“Hey, you can’t take credit for a championship by Alabama unless your a Bama backer!”

“Georgia and South Carolina and Mississippi State and Arkansas, you didn’t win anything!”

The general gist — as far as we can guess — is that people outside of Dixie don’t want to see other people happy.  Think about it.  Isn’t that really what they’re saying.  “We don’t want you to have any more fun than us!”

To hell with that.  Life’s short.  Much of it is miserable.  What’s wrong with taking a little pleasure in knowing that your conference is the toughest in the land?

No one likes bandwagon fans when their team wins a title, especially if they have suffered through lean years with said team.  People feel they’ve earned the right to enjoy big wins a bit more than the Johnny-come-latelys.

But what does it really hurt?  So more people are happy?  And that’s a bad thing?

Apparently ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit thinks so.  The ex-Big Ten quarterback had this to say yesterday on the network’s “College Football LIVE” program:

 

“The SEC, it’s unique about their fanbase.  There are 14 schools.  When one of them wins a national championship, all 14 carry the flag for the national championship.  They all claim it.  They all claim the national championship like they won it together.  So when Tennessee gets ambushed by Oregon, they need to all get their flag out together and accept that loss to Oregon.”

 

OK.

The SEC lost a game badly to Oregon.  The SEC has also lost at Clemson, at Miami (FL), and to Oklahoma State this year.

And come January, it’s likely that the SEC will play for another BCS title anyway.  If the league’s representative wins, Herbstreit — who I had the pleasure of working with at WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio… good guy — and others will probably hear that now famous “S-E-C, S-E-C” chant echoing across the Rose Bowl.  And that will hurt who exactly?  That’s bad why?  Because we’d prefer more people to be sad or miserable?

Hey, if an SEC team plays and loses in the BCS Championship Game, you can bet the victor’s fans in Pasadena will taunt their rivals with that very same chant.  And at that point, SEC fans will have to take down their flag — as Herbstreit puts it — and go home.  So be it.

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How Good Is Bama? Good Enough To Feature In A Prop Bet With An NFL Team

bookmakerNick Saban has built something we’ve never seen before in the BCS era — a year-in, year-out juggernaut.  No other school has collected three national titles in four years or back-to-back titles under the current system.  And Alabama appears to be ready to roll again in 2013.

Just ask the oddsmakers.

Knowing that the betting public is well aware of Saban, the Tide, and the school’s recent dominance, online bookmaker William Hill has posted a prop bet that pits Bama against the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers:

 

Who will have more regular season wins in the 2013-14 season?

San Francisco 49ers: +120

Alabama Crimson Tide: -140

 

The 49ers will play 16 regular-season games while the Crimson Tide will play just 12.  (Thirteen if William Hill counts a possible SEC Championship Game trip as being in the regular season.)

Meanwhile, LVH — the casino formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton — has posted its lines for next season’s national championship race.  Here are there top 10 favorites and the rest of the SEC squads mentioned.  Guess who’s on top?

 

Odds to win 2014 BCS National Championship Game, Rose Bowl, January 6th, 2014

Alabama 5-2

Ohio State 6-1

Oregon 7-1

Texas A&M 10-1

Georgia 12-1

LSU 15-1

South Carolina 15-1

Florida 15-1

Stanford 15-1

Notre Dame 25-1

Arkansas 300-1

Vanderbilt 500-1

Missouri 500-1

Ole Miss 500-1

Auburn 1000-1

Tennessee 1000-1

Mississippi State 1000-1

 

If you’re wanting to bet on Kentucky, you can bet the “field” at 50-1.

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Slive Chats About Realignment, TV, Playoffs And More

mike-slive-smiling-bigFirst, a hat tip to the ever-excellent Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News who drove across Jefferson County to take in a Mike Slive speaking engagement in Trussville, Alabama yesterday.  After the event, Solomon was able to collect some quotes from the SEC commissioner on a wide range of topics.

Slive’s comments — and our thoughts on those quotations — are below…

 

Slive On conference realignment:

“One thing I can’t do is speak for anybody else.  I can only speak for us.  As I look ahead and prepare agendas for some of our meetings in the future, that is not an agenda item, at least for us, at the moment.”

Our take:  “At the moment” is the standout phrase, obviously.  You’d better believe there is back-channel communication going on between multiple schools and multiple conferences these days.  The SEC is involved in some of that, too.  Slive is way too shrewd to sit back and watch without preparing for future shake-ups.

Asked if any schools had contacted the SEC about joining, Slive said, “You know, I’m not going to tell you… all due respect.”

 

Slive on the SEC’s television plans:

“We think we’re getting closer and closer to doing what we want to do in the long-term future of our television package.  Hopefully, within the relatively near future, we’ll be able to tell you something publicly.”

Our take:  It’s kind of hard to finalize television deals when no one knows what schools will be in which conferences moving forward.  The SEC itself could expand which would likely change the league’s geographic footprint, its sphere of media influence, and the amount of money its content is worth (depending on the brands added and the locations involved).  There’s also the matter of what other leagues will look like and how much their media rights will be worth… which could/should impact SEC negotiations.  If the SEC announces new TV deals anytime soon, it will likely be announcing what are in fact place-holder deals.

 

Slive on the number of conference games his league will play:

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The Bielema Era Begins In Fayetteville

Bret Bielema is a “name” coach.  Usually, “name” coaches from successful Top 15 programs don’t leave for other programs unless that new program is the coach’s good old alma mater.  But Arkansas AD Jeff Long snagged Wisconsin’s coach just days after he’d wrapped up his third Rose Bowl invite in a row.

That in itself is a coup.

The fact that Long kept the discussions quiet while so many other conversations leaked out — Gary Patterson, Les Miles, Chris Petersen, Mike Gundy — might have been an even bigger surprise.

Before we get to whether or not Bielema will be successful in Fayetteville, here are some issues that played a role in Arkansas’ ability to land its new leader:

 

*  He’ll be paid $3.2 million annually for six years.  That’s a $600,000 per year raise over his Wisconsin salary.

*  If fired during his first three years, Bielema will be paid 100% of this contract.  That’s about as good a buyout as a man can get.

*  He can earn as much as $700,000 additional dollars each year through incentive clauses.

*  Bielema pointed out at his introductory presser on Wednesday that he had a hard time holding onto assistants while at Wisconsin.  UW “isn’t wired” to be pay big dollars to assistant coaches “at this point.”  Arkansas very much is.

The new coach also made it clear that living in the shadow of current Wisconsin AD and former Badger coach Barry Alvarez was wearing a bit thin.  “I came here to chase a dream.  I’ve never been to a place where I can give them something they’ve never had.  At Arkansas, it’s never been done.  We never won an SEC title.  Been in the game three times.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out you win the SEC title, you might be playing the big one, especially after 2014.  That is what a dream is all about.”

*  Further, he made a telling comment regarding Alvarez’s decision to coach Wisconsin in this year’s Rose Bowl.  “I just heard that before I came here, which will be awesome.  They might finally win one.  Everyone tells me he won three and I lost two.”  Ouch.

*  Long revealed that Bielema was one of only two or three coaches to send him a handwritten note of encouragement when he axed Bobby Petrino back in April.

*  Having eight months to research job candidates might have been a pretty big advantage after all.  When Long received a note from Bielema, he had to think to himself, “Why am I getting this?”  Everyone’s got an ulterior motive.  Long had eight months to correspond with Bielema.  Who knows how often they conversed (regardless of what they might say now)?  Perhaps Long knew of Bielema’s weariness of Wisconsin months ago.

 

But now the big question becomes: Will Bielema succeed in the SEC?

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Long Wants An Employed Coach For Hogs, We’re Told It’s TCU’s Patterson

Arkansas AD Jeff Long confirmed on Bo Mattingly’s Arkansas radio show yesterday that he is interested in coaches who are currently employed:

 

“I think they’ll be a coach who is coaching and working in college or professional football.”

 

That would seem to rule out Butch Davis, the ex-North Carolina coach who’s been cleared — so far — of NCAA wrongdoing in the Tar Heels’ scandal that led to his ouster.  Davis is an Arkansas native.

Instead, it’s believed that the top man on Long’s list is TCU head coach Gary Patterson (photo at left).

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Report: “Champions” Bowl To Ink $80M Contract With ESPN

When it was announced earlier this month that ESPN would fork over $80 million dollars per year for the rights to broadcast the Rose Bowl, the common view was that the new SEC/Big 12 “Champions” Bowl would eventually sign a similar deal.

And that common view was apparently correct.

According to The Sports Business Journal — hefty subscription required — ESPN has agreed to pay “roughly the same rights fee” to the “Champions” Bowl as it will the Rose Bowl.  For now, the SEC and Big 12 own their game.  Take $80 million and split it down the middle each year and you have the 10 Big 12 schools set to make $4 million a piece while the SEC’s 14 schools would bring in about $2.85 million annually.

Now, there are other costs to be considered, of course, and depending on how the game partners with another bowl or bowls — the Cotton and Chick-fil-A have been mentioned most often — the full $80 million might not wind up in SEC and Big 12 coffers each and every season.  But you can bet a huge chunk of it will.

Interestingly, it’s taken The Grandaddy of Them All since 1902 to reach the $80 million mark while the Baby New Year created by the two best leagues in the BCS era has reached that level two years before it actually even comes into existence.

Somewhere Jim Delany scowls.

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Emmert Talks About Changing Cultures (Just Pay No Attention To The Cash Behind The Curtain)

Yesterday morning, NCAA president Mark Emmert dropped the proverbial hammer on Penn State University.  As most of you know, I believe the decision to suddenly change the NCAA’s mission and jurisdiction was driven by a desire for applause and will eventually result in difficulties for college sports’ governing body.  But this post isn’t about whether Emmert erred — he did — or whether so many Penn Staters’ decisions to look-the-other-way were atrocious — they were.

This isn’t as much about what Emmert said during yesterday’s press conference, either (though his words were played again and again on television and radio all day Monday).  Nope, this post has more to do with what Emmert didn’t say during his presser.

 

What Emmert did say:  “No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims.  However, we can make clear that the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”

What Emmert did not say: “Hey, did you see all those colleges switch conferences earlier this month?  West Virginia to the Big 12 where it’s nearest rival is in Iowa?  Oh, it all may seem crazy, but it was all about mucho dinero, my friends.”

What Emmert did say:  “If you find yourself in a place where the athletic culture is taking precedence over academic culture then a variety of bad things can occur.”

What Emmert did not say:  “Whoo-boy, $80 million bucks a year for Rose Bowl television rights!?!  Imagine the cash that schools will bring in from their new college football playoff.  You know, the one that will force our student-athletes to play more games and increase their risk of injury.”

What Emmert did say:  “These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgement of educators.”

What Emmert did not say:  “I’m making 1.6 million greenbacks a year, suckers, and that wouldn’t be possible without the mega-TV contracts we cut with networks that are desperate to air our NCAA basketball tourney each year!”

 

Anyone who’s read this site for very long knows that I am no serial basher of the NCAA.  In fact, I’ve often defended the governing body because many/most folks take shots at them for anything/everything.  Most of the time, the gripes the NCAA endures just aren’t legit.

But for Emmert to try and trot out a “change the culture” line when the very presidents who gave him the power to make Monday’s ruling have themselves moved their schools from one conference to another and created a new football playoff all due to a lust for cash?  And for Emmert to suggest that there’s too much emphasis placed on sports when he himself makes $1.6 million per year for guiding an institution founded to govern — wait for it — sports?

Sorry, but that’s just too much double-talk for me, too many mixed messages.  That has nothing to do with Emmert’s decision to plow Penn State’s field.  It does have something to do with what Emmert did say and even more to do with what he didn’t say while plowing said field.

Change the culture my foot.  When big-time NCAA institutions no longer put television contracts and conference payouts first, then Emmert can talk about changing the culture.  The realists out there know that the money made from collegiate athletics is exactly what drives the type of culture Emmert badmouthed on Monday.  Well, that money’s not getting any smaller.  So the NCAA prez better not hold his breath expecting schools to change their cultures.

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Ka-Ching! ESPN To Pay Big For The Rose… And That’s Good Sign For The “Champions” Bowl

We’ll keep this one quick, but Sports Business Daily is reporting today that ESPN has agreed to pay an average of $80 million per year for the media rights to the Rose Bowl.  Read that again.  That’s $80 million per year for one game.  The deal would cover twelve years and would be a 167% jump over the $30 million the game currently brings in from television.

The publication suggests ESPN’s splurge could push the media rights for the new college football playoff from the $500 million already discussed to closer to $600 million.  Unlike the BCS which involved five games and was sold as a unit, the new system — with six bowls, two of which will serve as semifinals, and another site serving as host to the title game — is being sold off piecemeal.  Unless, of course, ESPN decides to buy up every game… which is probably likely.

If you’ve got the money to spend $80 million on the Rose Bowl, you’ve probably got the cash to go much, much further.

So what does this mean for the SEC/Big 12′s new “Champions” Bowl?  Big money.  The Rose Bowl may have tradition, a beautiful setting and a primo timeslot, but the new SEC/Big 12 game will feature squads from the two most-successful leagues of the past 15 years.  And unlike the Rose Bowl, the SEC and Big 12 — assuming they don’t partner with an existing bowl game — can bid out its game location year after year.  The Rose Bowl will have Pasadena.  The “Champions” Bowl could have any big spender it’s conference owners like.

You can also expect the Orange Bowl to try to reach some form of agreement with Notre Dame.  Like ‘em or not, the Irish are still a major television draw.  Pairing them whenever possible against the ACC champion will allow the Miami game to ask for big money, too.  Just not quite as big as the Rose Bowl and “Champions” Bowl are likely to get.

Eighty.  Million.  Per year.

Apparently the poor global economy isn’t too poor for the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

As for a football/basketball comparison, the NCAA Tournament brings in about $680 million from television money for 67 basketball games.  That’s about $10.1 million for each one of hoops’ biggest games.  The Rose Bowl will bring in about eight times that much.  By itself.

Basketball’s fun, but football is the money maker… just in case you needed further proof of why football has been driving the expansion bus the past few years.

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Be Prepared, The New Playoff Will Lead To Even More Bickering

Sorry for the slow start to the day.  Had some radio work to do this morning in Missouri and also had a little business to attend to after that.

But in between I started to make a mental list of all the issues that will now be argued and debated regarding college football’s new playoff.  Already today we looked at the possibility that a team ranked #4, #3, or even #2 in the human polls might not make the playoff field.  But that’s going with an obvious controversial topic.  We all know that any fanbase whose school is ranked in the Top 10 will squawk about “selection committee bias” if their school’s not invited to take part in a given playoff.  That’s easy.

But what about all of the following sore spots?

 

1.  Who’s selected for the playoff?

That’s obvious, see here.

 

2.  Who will be on the selection committee, how will that committee be chosen, what factors will they use in making their decisions, and how much bias will exist?

We’ll just lump 95% of the selection committee issues into one blurb.  All of the above will now be up for the Skip Bayless Vs. Stephen A. Smith, point-counterpoint treatment.

 

3.  Will the process be transparent?

For some reason, many people are saying a committee will be more transparent than the old BCS (polls and computers).  Have I missed the broadcasts when television cameras have taken us inside the NCAA Tournament selection committee meetings?  That seems to be a process shrouded in mystery.  Depending on how things are actually handled, this new process could be even less transparent than what we’ve had in the past.

 

4.  How consistent will the committee be year-in and year-out?

Every March some team gets red-roped at the door of the Big Dance when a team with a similar record from a similar conference made it into the same tourney the year prior.  This ties into the transparency issue, but will we have any idea from year-to-year what to expect from the selection panel?

 

5.  How will the money be divvied up?

No need for an explanation here.  This one will be very hotly debated.  The powers-that-be need to hope that the little guys of the world will be happy to get the same size slice — small — of a much larger overall pie.  If not, expect threats of lawsuits and legislation just as we’ve experienced in the BCS era.

 

6.  Will the playoff field truly be open to all?

Utah and TCU have moved into power leagues, but I’m still going to use them as an example here, based on past history.  I think a very, very strong argument could be made that non-traditional powers like Cincinnati, Boise State and TCU and Utah (in their small conference days) would have had a better shot at making a playoff with a combination of human polls and computer rankings.  A selection committee will be more likely to ask, “Yeah, but who did you really play?”

 

7.  Which bowls will be part of the rotation?

That’s still to be determined at this point.  Heck, we don’t even know if the SEC/Big 12 “Champions” Bowl will be its own bowl or whether it will be rolled into an existing game.  But you can be sure Big Ten and Pac-12 fans won’t be happy every third year — at least that’s the current assumed rotation — when the Rose Bowl becomes a semifinal game that might not involve a team from either of those conferences.  You can also be sure Big Ten and Big East fans would like to see a bowl in the Midwest or Northeast — good luck finding one — in the rotation, too.

 

8.  How will the seeding and bracketing work?

For television purposes, you can expect any rematches between teams or any in-conference battles to be played out in a semifinal as opposed to the championship game.  If 2011 were to be repeated and the top four-ranked teams were chosen (see: Point One above), then it’s likely #1 LSU would have played #2 Alabama in one game while #3 Oklahoma State faced #4 Stanford in the other… in order to set up a fresh title game to drive up television ratings.  Folks won’t just argue over who’s selected for the playoff.  They’ll argue over how they’re seeded.

 

9.  Which bowls will get which teams?

There was talk of “anchor bowls” tying conferences to their traditional bowl partners, but with a rotation of bowls now in the works, that’s likely dunzo.  So, in a given year, which teams will be sent to Pasadena and which teams will be sent to, let’s say, New Orleans?  Will a team be allowed to play close to home?  Will teams be bracketed so that both schools are as equidistant as possible from a given bowl site?  People won’t just argue over who’s selected for the playoff or over how the teams are seeded.  They’ll also argue over which teams are sent to which sites and how much travel is involved.  The bowls will be keeping a close eye on that one, as well.  The Rose Bowl wouldn’t want Florida State and Alabama in Pasadena if Southern Cal and Michigan were available.

 

10.  What about the kickoff times?

Reportedly, the Rose Bowl isn’t going to budge from it’s afternoon kickoff time on New Year’s Day (it’s big concession was apparently losing its yearly Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup, though it had already given that up as part of the BCS rotation).  As part of this new playoff consortium, the Rose likely won’t be forced to go head-to-head with a semifinal game in years that it’s not hosting one of those games.  Because of that, we’ll have semis on New Year’s Day some years and New Year’s Eve on others.  Is there anyone who doesn’t think the playoffs should be held on New Year’s Day each and every season?  And God help us if/when one semifinal is played on December 31st and the other is played on January 1st.  There will be some serious cries of bias from the January 1st group.   They won’t like the fact that their championship game foe will have had an extra day to travel, sell tickets, watch tape, practice, rest and/or heal.

 

That’s just a quick Top 10 list.  There are many, many other controversies that I’m sure I didn’t think of while driving around speaking notes into my iPhone this morning.

But here’s one last nugget just for kicks (that we also mentioned yesterday).  This new playoff is not run by the NCAA.  It’s not the NCAA Tournament of football or the College World Series of football.  It’ll be run by the schools themselves.  So while we’ll all know who the national champion is at the conclusion of the title game, that champ still won’t technically be “official” when it comes to the NCAA record book.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like the idea of a playoff.  I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about that.  But anyone who thinks this new system will start fewer arguments and fistfights than the old system is beyond bonkers.

At MrSEC.com, we believe the new system will lead to even more bickering.

Enjoy.

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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

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