Big 12, SEC Join Forces To Create New Bowl Game To Be Played Jan. 1
In an agreement “with implications far beyond one game, the SEC and Big 12 announced a five-year deal to have their champions meet in a bowl," beginning with the '14 season, according to Chuck Carlton of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. If the champions “are part of a likely four-team football playoff, the respective conference will choose a replacement.” The Big 12 and SEC “essentially started a new marquee bowl from scratch as equal partners in a projected financial bonanza.” The move “could set the stage for college sports’ version of the Big One -- realignment on an epic scale.” A source said, “I really can’t believe I’m saying this. We might be moving to four superconferences -- and the Big 12 would be one of those.” Sources said that the Big 12 and SEC venture “may be as much about power and leverage as anything.” Carlton noted “so much remains unknown by design, including the host city and TV information.” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said, “This game could be part of the BCS, or outside the BCS. We’ve intentionally left all our options open.” Sources indicated that the AT&T Cotton Bowl and the Allstate Sugar Bowl “were the early favorites to land the game” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/19). Slive said, “A new January bowl tradition is born.” Outgoing interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said, “Our goal is to provide the fans across the country with a New Year’s Day prime-time tradition” (AP, 5/18). In Austin, Suzanne Halliburton wrote the two conferences “will share equally in revenue and management of the bowl,” but there is “no clear picture of what will happen to the rest of the bowl games with tie-ins to the two leagues.” The partnership “also adds much needed stability to the Big 12” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 5/19). Neinas said that the two conferences “will probably make requests for proposals that could include existing bowls, cities and stadiums, whatever.” Neinas said, “We will evaluate everything. From a marketing standpoint, it’s probably better to find one location and develop it.” In Dallas, Carlton wrote if there is “gridlock, the SEC/Big 12 collaboration could evolve into a national semifinal as part of the new BCS, a must-have game.” Much more likely, it would become “a top-echelon matchup just below the four-team playoff, matching the best teams in each conference not in the playoff” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/20).
RIPPLE EFFECT? In N.Y., Pete Thamel wrote the ramifications of the deal “will be significant, but the biggest question will be whether it will create another ripple of conference alignment.” The Big 12-SEC union “will probably create tiers of college football,” and the four-team playoff that has been discussed “would make up the first tier.” The next tier “would be this game, known as the Champions Bowl, and the Rose Bowl.” While neither game “would have the cachet of the national semifinal and national title games, they could be put in favorable time slots on New Year’s Day and considered the best leftovers.” There would “also be a third tier of games, which could include the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar Bowls and perhaps some assortment of the Cotton, Capital One and Chick-fil-A Bowls.” But Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said that he “did not see this merger as a strategic counter to the Big Ten or the Rose Bowl.” Delany said, “If it’s anything, it’s a complement to what’s been built at the Rose Bowl” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/19).
NAME YOUR OWN PRICE: In Houston, Jerome Solomon wrote the union is “a shrewd move by the two conferences that could generate significant revenue for the leagues.” More importantly for the leagues, that revenue “will be in full control of the two conferences, rather than the bowls that traditionally have had a lock on postseason funds.” By creating their own bowl, the conferences “can decide on their own matchup, name their price to television networks, control costs and not have to feed the bowl monster.” A Big 12 rep said that “studies indicate the bowl would be more successful if it is held at the same site every year instead of moving in a rotation." Texans President Jamey Rootes said that Reliant Stadium “would be an excellent location for the new bowl.” Rootes said, “We see this as an opportunity. Some might look at the changes that are coming with fear, but we're excited. Change allows opportunities for folks like us to take a step forward." Solomon noted Atlanta, New Orleans and Dallas “are almost certain to join Houston in hopes of landing the game” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/19). ESPN's Joe Schad said what the Big 12 and SEC "have said are, 'You know what, we’re tired of hearing about the Rose Bowl. ... We’re going to create a game on our terms, we’re going to create more revenue for us, we’re going to choose the television network, we’re going to choose where this game is going to be played.' And they really feel that this is in their best interest" (“College Football Live,” ESPN, 5/18).
POWER PLAY: In Chattanooga, Jay Greeson wrote the agreement between the two conferences “just changed the game.” Now that the “four most powerful football conferences appear to have pole positions into the four-team playoff and fall-back plans with the Rose and the Champions bowls, it appears the strong will get stronger and the rich will get much richer when the college football postseason becomes a college football playoff” (CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS, 5/19). In West Palm Beach, Dave George asked, “Are the SEC and the Big 12 conspiring to create a showdown that will diminish the authority of the expected four-game BCS playoff?” Both leagues “say no, but the SEC won't go for any plan that would limit the national semifinal field to conference champions only” (PALM BEACH POST, 5/19). SI.com’s Stewart Mandel asked, “Will the SEC and Big 12 push for this new bowl to serve as their designated semifinal host? If so, will the other conferences fight against it, seeing as those leagues have produced a No. 1 or 2 team nine straight years? Or do the SEC and Big 12 envision the game more as a comfortable backup should one of their champions fail to reach the playoff?” (SI.com, 5/18). CBSSPORTS.com’s Bryan Fischer wrote Friday’s news about the bowl game “was about the most powerful conference in the land becoming even more powerful in football and the one that was left for dead just a few months ago getting a permanent seat at the table” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/18). In Orlando, Mike Bianchi wrote the announcement “might well be the first step in the process of major conferences kicking traditional bowl cities to the curb and forming new games that they will let cities bid upon” (ORLANDO SENTINEL.com, 5/18).
BIG 12 COMEBACK? In Kansas, Kevin Haskin wrote the announcement “was a distinct change to how bowls conduct business.” In addition, it was “another sign the Big 12 is operating from a position of strength” (TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL, 5/20). FOXSPORTS.com’s Pete Fiutak wrote the “harsh reality is that this move firmly establishes the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC as the true big four BCS conferences.” What this “also does is cement the Big 12 as 100 percent healthy after seemingly being on its deathbed not all that long ago” (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/18).
SUPER CONFERENCES: In Oregon, George Schroeder wrote the move is “the first big shot fired in the post-BCS era, a signal the schools and conferences might wrest control of the postseason away from the traditional bowls.” There has been “a clear gap between the top four conferences, and the rest.” This “formalizes it, and further consolidates the power.” The move “could trigger another round of expansion and realignment” (Eugene REGISTER-GUARD, 5/20). In San Antonio, Brent Zwerneman wrote the announcement “seems to continue the move toward four super-conferences of 16 teams, as leagues (and programs) scramble to not be left out of the new order” (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/19). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote the game “makes the long-anticipated day of four 16-team super conferences an inevitable reality." It is “a certain death notice for Big East football, and the ACC might not survive without convincing Florida State/Miami to stick around and Notre Dame to come on board” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 5/18). SPORTING NEWS’ Matt Hayes wrote the bowl partnership is one that “never more clearly defined the haves and have-nots of college football.” If you are “not part of the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12, you’re on the outside with your face pressed against the big-boy glass” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/18). In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote, “You can hear that this is the dawning of the four super-conferences or that Notre Dame must drop its independence or that it might even be the end of the NCAA” (K.C. STAR, 5/19). In Tulsa, Michael Peters wrote this game “could become little more than a consolation prize once details of a college football final four are made clear.” Peters: “Big 12, welcome to the big boy table” (TULSAWORLD.com, 5/18).
ODD MEN OUT? In Georgia, Scott Michaux wrote the ACC and Big East “appear to be the odd conferences out.” The ACC’s “biggest hope might be a desperation phone call to Notre Dame” (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 5/19). FOXSPORTS.com’s Thayer Evans wrote it is “gut-check time for the ACC -- and even Notre Dame’s football independence” (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/19). ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach asked, “What’s the ACC going to do? Is its champion going to play the Big East champion in the postseason? ... Where’s Notre Dame? ... And what about the depleted Big East?” Two of college football's “strongest conferences just got even stronger,” while the ACC, Big East and possibly Notre Dame “lost much of their footing in the post-BCS landscape” (ESPN.com, 5/18). In Birmingham, Jon Solomon wrote the ACC and Big East are “officially on an island.” Good luck "finding comparable anchor bowls” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 5/19).
SLIVE ON TOP: Slive said the bowl game “will complement the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model." In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell wrote Slive was “speaking as an informed power broker who just told you that the football Final Four is already a done deal.” His comments “make you feel as if the Big 12 and SEC are making plans to ensure that their new bowl game will be positioned to be one of the Final Four semifinals” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/20). Also in Birmingham, Kevin Scarbinsky wrote in one “deft move, Slive managed to neutralize Delany's last advantage in the Big Ten commissioner's losing battle for the title of the most powerful man in college sports.” Now Slive “has his own Rose Bowl." Scarbinsky wrote conferences “have a chance to blow up the old, tired and often corrupt bowl system and start over with this game” (AL.com, 5/20). In Mobile, Mike Herndon wrote you could almost picture Slive “thumbing his nose toward Jim Delany and [Pac-12 Commissioner] Larry Scott while he praised the new bowl as a matchup between ‘the two most successful conferences in the BCS era.’" This new game “will be a good deal for the SEC … but the biggest winner is the Big 12.” The other “big winner: New Year’s Day” (AL.com, 5/20).
DOUBTFUL: In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel wrote the announcement “comes a little late to pack a punch,” and the new agreement is “really an enhanced version of the Cotton Bowl the last decade.” The tone of the announcement “had a little too much revelry.” Tramel: “This would have been a monumental move in the days before the BCS. … But with a four-team playoff, it almost never will happen” (NEWSOK.com, 5/18).
ADDRESS UNKNOWN: In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. wrote the big question for Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones is “what the new game means for the Cotton Bowl, which is played at Cowboys Stadium.” A source said that the Cowboys “will likely let the Cotton Bowl take the lead in bidding for the new game.” Hill wrote, “If the Cowboys are involved in the new game, it will likely involve the Cotton Bowl in some capacity” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/18). ESPN DALLAS’ Richard Durrett wrote there is “a thought out there that Jerry Jones won’t let the Sugar Bowl outbid” Cowboys Stadium. Durrett: “But, of course, this is the Cotton Bowl’s bid, not Jerry’s bid. I’m sure Jones would want that game in his stadium and he’ll do what he can to help the Cotton Bowl, but don’t assume it’s simply just Jerry vs. the Sugar Bowl” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 5/19). In Phoenix, Craig Harris wrote the future of the Fiesta Bowl and “millions of local tourism dollars were thrown into question Friday." It is “unknown what role the Fiesta Bowl would have in the new playoff system,” and there is “no guarantee that the Fiesta Bowl will be included in the new playoff rotation” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/19).