The SEC’s new bowl with the Big 12? It mightn’t be so big

In other news, Herschel Walker just challenged Mike Rozier to an arm-wrestling match.

In other news, Herschel Walker just dared Mike Rozier to arm-wrestle him. (AJC special photo)

Beginning in 2014, the champions of the SEC and the Big 12 will meet annually in a New Year’s Day bowl. That’s provided both champions are available, which neither figures to be. Which is why I’m a little confused about just how big this Big Game really is.

I’m less confused about the motivations for such a move. They are, as ever, money and power. Even if the actual conference champions won’t be playing in this game, it will still bear the imprint of the SEC, which in college football has become the only league that matters, and the Big 12, which by pairing with the almighty SEC is hoping that some of the glow is transferable.

If you’re the Big 12 and you were losing high-profile schools teams left and right — Colorado to the Pac-12, Nebraska to the Big Ten, Texas A&M and Missouri to the, er, SEC — that’s a major consideration. Recent rumblings about Florida State considering a move to the Big 12 offered a chilling indication that the great shuffle might only have reached halftime. Last summer the Big 12 seemed near collapse, and if Texas and/or Oklahoma ever choose to bolt that would be Game Over. But the Big 12 has found itself a new commissioner and now, in the SEC, a new contractual partner.

The Big 12 is desperate to ensure its continuing existence, and this new bowl will go a long ways toward doing that. Of the Big Six leagues, four have paired off: The Big Ten and the Pac-12 have been joined at the hip since before granddad had his first hip replacement, and now these two. Left hanging are the ACC and the Big East, the flimsiest of the big football leagues, and those two might be loath to form an alliance given that the former just raided the latter for Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

Apart from money and power — I know; you’re asking, “What else is there beyond money and power?” — this SEC/Big 12 game is a muddle. As we know, a four-team BCS playoff is surely at hand. As we know, the chances of the SEC and the Big 12 champions not being included among those four teams in a given year is all but moot. That would mean the new game will  get lesser teams from the SEC and Big 12, which would mean, as Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman archly noted, that “the new agreement is really an enhanced agreement of the Cotton Bowl for the last decade.”

Some believe the so-called Champions Bowl could slide into the BCS playoff grid as a host site — SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Birmingham News his new game “can be in the BCS or outside the BCS” – but the existing major bowls may be better positioned for those nods. (That’s unless the Big Ten and Pac-10 overplay their sanctity-0f-the-Rose-Bowl hand, which would leave a massive opening.) And really, if you’re the SEC and the Big 12, do you want to introduce and ballyhoo your new partnership as a championship test if it’s actually a BCS semifinal?

Then again, is it really a Champions Bowl if it includes the losers of the SEC and Big 12 title tilts? And for all the SEC’s cachet, would a New Year’s Day game that features a team (or teams) riding a one-game losing streak be quite the draw Slive has in mind?

In the attempt to be pro-active, the SEC and the Big 12 may be guilty of fighting a battle that has all but ended. They’re trotting out a new bowl at a time when the future, at long last, will belong to a playoff. The stand-alone BCS title game came to marginalize the other bowls, even the other BCS bowls. What will happen when you’ve got two semifinals and a final? Will anyone care about any games that aren’t part of the tournament?

Yes, some folks will care. Fans of the schools involved will care. The casual observer sitting home on New Year’s Day will click on the game. But clicking to check the score isn’t the same as caring deeply, and I’m not sure college football can have it both ways: You’ve got your 30-odd bowls on the one hand, the outcomes of which matter not, and on the other you’ll have a playoff, which will bring a true championship intensity to a sport that only recently has embraced such a concept.

Twenty years ago, the notion of Big Eight champ Oklahoma playing SEC champ Alabama on New Year’s day would have stirred the senses, but that was a time when we had to take whatever the bowls ladled out. As fat and profitable as they remain, bowls are yesterday’s news. Once the playoff arrives, only the playoff will matter.

By Mark Bradley

111 comments Add your comment

DW

May 21st, 2012
11:45 am

First on Monday!!

Gene

May 21st, 2012
11:47 am

It will just be another bowl added to the list.

GTanner

May 21st, 2012
11:47 am

Chi Town

May 21st, 2012
11:49 am

Yawn, another Monday…….another 5 start recruit to Bama.

Respect, Saban.

Benjamin

May 21st, 2012
11:49 am

I am pretty excited, to be honest. Kentucky vs Texas A&M? Where do I sign up?!

Mark Bradley

May 21st, 2012
11:52 am

DW: Kudos to you.

George Stein

May 21st, 2012
11:53 am

Most bowl games don’t sell out anymore and that figures to become more of an issue going forward, particularly as conferences take control of the post-season and don’t accept the ticket guarantees from the bowls anymore. As a result, there will be fewer bowls, and more of them will be be better match-ups, which should make this bowl game even less important.

GTanner

May 21st, 2012
11:54 am

Call it “The In All Likelihood the Runners-Up Bowl.”

PMC

May 21st, 2012
11:55 am

if it’s a good matchup. I watch. If it’s dull I don’t. Maybe I check the score later, but seriously all but maybe 6 or 7 bowls are any good and they’ve taken the day I actually can watch (New Years Day) and moved them to odd time slots until the middle of january.

Sorry I’m not home to watch the Cotton Bowl on Saturday freaking night. I give you a day to celebrate college football January 1… It’s not my fault you waste my time with the Rose Bowl.

timboy6

May 21st, 2012
11:56 am

Just a ploy (and a profitable one at that) to leverage with the Big 10-PAC 12 partnership.

George Stein

May 21st, 2012
11:56 am

Who would have been in it last year? Kansas State vs Arkansas? Snooze.

PMC

May 21st, 2012
11:56 am

If they really want to do it, start putting games against each other again on one day. Then it would be enjoyable and the real chips can fall where they may.

Speed Racer

May 21st, 2012
11:58 am

Glad I’m not the only one who quickly realized that the two champions will (most likely) never play. I read an ESPN.com article today that seemed to paint this game as an earthquake that might cause the ACC to be swallowed by the Earth. Not sure it will be that dramatic.

B

May 21st, 2012
11:59 am

Please, please, please give us playoffs. It will be HUGE!

William Satterwhite

May 21st, 2012
12:05 pm

While bowl games might be even more devalued with the playoff, this game guarantees that whatever value is to be derived from bowl games, the SEC and Big 12 have assured that they (along with the Rose Bowl duo) will control a major share of that value- in essence they are restricting everybody else to whatever share of the playoff money they decide to share and whatever ESPN decides to pay out for content filling games in December. And for all the talk about this game not featuring actual champions, has it hurt the Rose Bowl any when it has featured second place teams from it’s hub conferences?

Brad

May 21st, 2012
12:08 pm

Game will be bigger than watching another boring SEC BSC game. Championships are mean to be across different conferences.

Ted M

May 21st, 2012
12:10 pm

Yep, that’s exactly why you go straight to a 16 team playoff.

ptdawg04

May 21st, 2012
12:21 pm

For years the argument has been that the regular season matters in college football. I favor the use of a plus-one model at the end of the bowl season, with the bowl season ending on Jan. 1. Let the confrences set-up these “champions bowls” and let them serve as a pseudo semi-final round. Otherwise what is the point of having conference championship games? They serve more as an opportunity for a team to play itself out of a national championship. Also let the current BCS formula dictate who those two teams are at the end of the bowls so that politics are minimized and things like quality wins/strength of schedule matter. Debate will always be a part of the system either who is 4th vs 5th or 2nd vs 3rd. At lease with this system, teams would have to win when it matters the most & would have to play a tough schedule to remain relevent. I am not an Alabama fan, but I do feel that it is good for CFB when they are in the conversation, but the regular season should matter more than success in past seasons. But last year with them getting into the national championship game made their previous game against LSU & the SEC championship game significantly less relevant.

Beast from the East

May 21st, 2012
12:22 pm

I would be willing to bet it will still be one of the most watched bowl games of the season. Will it be in Atlanta or Dallas? That’s what I’d like to know.

Gray Grantham

May 21st, 2012
12:24 pm

…..some believe the so-called Champions Bowl could slide into the BCS playoff grid as a host site — SEC commissioner Mike Slive told the Birmingham News his new game “can be in the BCS or outside the BCS” …..

I think you are missing the all important information “between the lines”.

The SEC and Big 12 are going to own and operate this game. The only role any “hosts” will have is to provide the stadium.

Could the Cotton Bowl fill that role? Sure, but they will be competing against Jerry Jones to make the same offer and Jerry can obviously make the deal sweeter than the Cotton Bowl simply by cutting out the middle man (Cotton Bowl)

Take Cotton Bowl out of that equation and plug in any other Bowl Committe and you get the same result.

The Champions Bowl will not be hosted by a Bowl Committee it will be hosted by a Stadium Owner. The SEC and Big 12 are going to squeeze the Bowl Committees out of the picture and show the rest of the FBS that the old Bowl model is broken and they don’t need it anymore.

These money hungry FBS execs have known for years that the lions share of Bowl Committee profits were a ripe plumb waiting to be picked in much the same way as corporate raiders view pension funds and stockpiles of cash.

When Mike Slive said “can be in the BCS or outside the BCS” what he was broadcasting telepathically that you failed to pick up.. ” and by in the BCS, I mean, it will no be hosted by any Bowl Committee, this will be a property owned and operated by a joint venture between the SEC and Big XII” meaning: Jerry World Yes – Cotton Bowl No, Super Dome Yes – Sugar Bowl No Georgia Dome Yes – Peach Bowl No, Raymond James Yes – Outback No, Sun Life Yes – Orange No

Could be in BCS simply means the BCS Bowls will have the same oportunity to bid on hosting the game that the Stadium Owners they ease the stadium from will, who do you think will win that bidding war? won’t be a Bowl Committee.

Rockchalkwombat

May 21st, 2012
12:27 pm

The significance of this new game is that, unlike the other bowls, it is owned by the two conferences, not the BCS and not a corporate sponsor. This is a message from the SEC and the Big 12 that the traditional bowl system is dying and that the BCS had better be serious about creating a viable playoff system or they too will become a thing of the past. This game may or may not end up happening, but regardless of that announcement is still a serious development in college football.

Box

May 21st, 2012
12:29 pm

You’re missing the point. This is a bowl that will be owned and operated by the two conferences the will do the TV deal and they will receive all the proceeds. If you are one of the traditional bowls, you now know who is calling the shots.

Bill

May 21st, 2012
12:32 pm

Thanks Mark again for info..sounds fishy to me.

Ted Striker

May 21st, 2012
12:32 pm

This is step backwards. It’s exactly what college football doesn’t need right now.

Marty Graw

May 21st, 2012
12:38 pm

The match-ups produced by this game won’t be such that fans will forget about the Rose Bowl. The story continues to be that nobody does money grabs like Slive. I just wished he had done this last year and maybe the SEC’s silly expansion into the mid-west would never have happened.

Jacket99

May 21st, 2012
12:40 pm

Mightn’t is an awesome contraction! I rank it right up there with oughtn’t. Good job, Mark.

Sonny Clusters

May 21st, 2012
12:41 pm

We’ve been approached about a possible “Clusters Bowl” next season. We’re not sure just yet but we would definitely invite Clemson because we was almost a Clemson Tiger when we ended up going on second shift instead. We could see a Clusters Bowl being very successful like us.

Buckeye

May 21st, 2012
12:42 pm

How about a match up between the winner of the SEC!SEC! Least and Conference USA??

FL Dawg

May 21st, 2012
12:43 pm

The Big 12 and SEC have for the most part ensured that this bowl will have two top ten teams play each other. With a four team play off, the BCS will yield the four top teams. Even if that takes away the top team in each conference, will the 2nd best team not be in the top 10? I bet more often than not you will end up with 5/6 vs 8/9 match up. Taking away two more of the top ten teams for the remaining bowls and thus, making them even less meaningful. As competitive/attractive games for sponsors become less, bowls will dissappear over time and we will end up with broader playoff system. If the NCAA won’t make a playoff, the big conferences will by trivializing the other bowls.

LT

May 21st, 2012
12:48 pm

The Rose Bowl hasn’t had any significance for years; but, it generates big profits for mediocre Pac 12 and Midwest teams. This is an excellent idea. It gives the premier conferences the ability to showcase (and reward) worthy teams that may not be the best; but are very near to it. It will bury the Rose Bowl in ratings.

GT fan

May 21st, 2012
12:55 pm

I thought college football was “about the kids”

7576DAWG

May 21st, 2012
12:59 pm

A few years ago when the Rose Bowl picked a Big -10 opponent over Georgia said that other than the championship game the Rose bowl would not do the right thing and match the next best game when they had the chance. They would always pick another Pac-10 against a Big -10 even if one is ranked in the top 10 and the other is not even ranked.
I love this agreement with the Big -12 because at least the next best SEC team not counting those that get into the 4 team playoff will now get pared against a Big -12 team that will end up in the top 12 and a great very deserving team in the SEC that wasn’t quite good enough to end up in the playoff won’t have to settle for a game against Hawaii or Boise State and they will play Oklahoma or Texas.

Auburn Grad

May 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

Tactic to make the NCAA move ahead with a playoff.

juice sourcer

May 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

Let me get this straight….A new bowl game between the champions of the SEC and the Big 12 that will never have the two champions play in it because they will almost always be in the Final 4 playoff. Makes about as much sense as the BSC crap we have been putting up with forever.

WhoCares?

May 21st, 2012
1:07 pm

Could we pause for moment to reflect on the poor and getting poorer ACC? Despite their “fabulous” TV contracts, seems to me they are even closer to losing some teams. Like FSU, for one. Even after getting pitt and Syracuse, how many teams will want to remain in a football-second class league? Clemson? Doubtful. Miami? Probably not. Others? The ACC stands to be further marginalized, I believe, and I’m wondering how they will respond.

GTBob

May 21st, 2012
1:10 pm

It will bury the Rose Bowl in ratings.

The National Championship barely beats the Rose Bowl in ratings. This game won’t come close.

Suckeye

May 21st, 2012
1:11 pm

SEC “Least” >>>>>>>>> Ohio State

Paul in NH

May 21st, 2012
1:12 pm

Using the criteria for this new bowl last year would have resulted in Arkansas playing Kansas State. Wait a minute – that game actually happened and somehow, even though it was an evening game it had lower ratings than the Rose Bowl and one of the teams ended up at #15 – behind 3 Pac XII teams and 3 B1G teams.

sogadog

May 21st, 2012
1:16 pm

They should call it the “Runners Up Bowl”. 90% of the time the SEC Champion, and / or the Big 12 Champion will be in the 4 team BCS playoff. Therefore, at least 90% of the time a runner up will be in this new bowl.

The SEC raids the Big 12, picks up Tx. AM and Mizzou then agrees to a Champions Bowl game with the Big 12? This is just weird.

Beast from the East

May 21st, 2012
1:19 pm

Paul,
I think UGA would have been condisered the second place team in the SEC.

Paul in NH

May 21st, 2012
1:24 pm

Beast,

I was going by the rankings. Is this bowl going to be for the teams that lost in the conference championship games (assuming that the champions are members of the new Gang of Four) or for the next best teams?

hans kershaw

May 21st, 2012
1:25 pm

I agree the SEC champ will never be available. We have the Cotton Bowl, so I don’t understand what purpose this will serve.

William Satterwhite

May 21st, 2012
1:29 pm

Paul in NH, that Cotton Bowl matchup took place on a Friday night 5 days after New Years Day- play that same game as the prime time showcase game on New Years Day and I guarantee you it will be a ratings killer. Even if another bowl game decides to head to head with it in the same time slot, the match up alone guarantees this game will win out as no one will be able to top it (at that point a non-playoff qualifying ACC champ vs a non-playoff qualifying Notre Dame is the best alternative anyone could put together).

Stinger 2

May 21st, 2012
1:32 pm

Nice to see Clusters on a non-Brave blog and without negative comments.Actually that was a good funny one Sonny.

JSS

May 21st, 2012
1:32 pm

College Corrupt Bowl! You only hope games sell out because of the local economic impact… However, it is where money is made, sponsorship and TV right is where the real money comes from… Let the corruption adulation continue! So sad!

William Satterwhite

May 21st, 2012
1:33 pm

Beast from the East, it most likely would be the next highest ranked SEC team, not necessarily the title game loser. Depending on just how the playoff works itself out, it’s possible (not likely, but possible) Alabama could have have been the representative last season.

Banker Bob

May 21st, 2012
1:34 pm

This was a great move by the SEC and Big 12. It does three things:

1. It serves the same purpose as the Rose Bowl – so when the Big 10 and Pac 12 balk at some post-season proposal because they want to keep the Rose Bowl going….. the Big 12 and SEC can say that they are in the same boat with this Bowl.

2. The powers that be made the Big East die. The ACC made what they thought were ‘power moves’, but now, they are the ones in trouble. The cold hard fact is, ACC football has been pretty bad, and quite overrated. I would even argue that the Big East was better (BCS wins – West Virginia 3, entire ACC 1). Then the ACC turns around and tells West Virginia that they aren’t good enough for the ACC? Really? The ACC is getting what they deserve.

3. It puts more pressure on Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami, and Clemson to leave a football-irrelevant conference (ACC), and join the power four conferences. This is a major power grab, and John Swofford is starting to look like John Marinatto – inept, and lacking foresight.

In 10 years, the Big East will be basketball only, and the ACC will be as relevant as the Mountain West in football.

Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl

May 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Bring me back!!!
I’m sure we could get the Houston Cougars to play in our bowl again.

fitzgerald

May 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

SEC and Big 12 are the beginning of super conferences that will compete for the national playoff championships. At least 4 and possibly 5 super conferences to be involved. Some of the major colleges (Florida State and Notre Dame for sure) will make the move. Perhaps lesser conferences will continue to have some kind of bowl set up. If there is a 16 team playoff system, the conference championship games can be eliminated and teams have playoff games to make the final 16. Just some thoughts added to all the other opinions.

Boise Dawg

May 21st, 2012
1:49 pm

Mark,

For once I agree 100% with you. With a potential 4-team playoff I don’t see how this bowl will be much different from the existing Cotton Bowl. I don’ see too many scenarios where the SEC champion and Big 12 champion are not in a 4-team playoff. Maybe a slight upgrade from the Cotton. I guess the real news here is the SEC is saying they don’t care about the Sugar Bowl tradition and the Big 12 is saying they don’t care about the Fiesta Bowl tradition, which I find sad. While I am in favor of a playoff, I will miss the tradition of the Sugar Bowl…. while maybe it doesn’t have the quite the Rose Bowl luster, it has been THE bowl for SEC fans. Who doesn’t love Munson’s Sugar falling from the sky call? Tradition is what makes the bowl games special and I think Slive is underestimating the value of the Sugar Bowl brand.

I also agree with the notion that we may only be at halftime with all the conference realignment. Everyone assumes that one reason for realigment is being triggered by the desire to be in BCS confernce and that by doing away with automatic qualifier status. I can speak for Boise State and say joining the Big East has nothing to do with trying to join an automaitc qualifer conference and everythign to do with $$. Despite the state of the Big East, their progam is going to make about 4x the amount of money they would if they stayed in the Mountain West.