No AQ for you

As I mentioned yesterday, there really wasn’t that much of substance reached at the latest round of BCS haggling.  But one thing which was agreed upon probably deserves more attention than it’s gotten so far.

Another development was the agreement by FBS commissioners and other officials to eliminate the practice of designating conferences as “AQ” and “non-AQ” leagues.

Under current BCS rules, champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC automatically receive a spot in one of the five BCS bowl games — Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar and the Allstate BCS National Championship Game. Champions of Conference USA and the Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Western Athletic conferences have to meet other criteria to qualify for a BCS bowl game.

My first thought after reading that?  Sayonara, Big East.  The only thing holding that conference of misfit schools together was the promise of the AQ berth.  If that’s gone, what does Boise State need the Big East for, anyway?  Wouldn’t the Broncos be better off going back to the Mountain West, continuing to dominate it and landing a spot in the top four of the BCS standings now and then?  (Makes you wonder what Gary Patterson is thinking this morning.)

My second thought after reading that?  I wonder how long it’ll be before a school that’s a mid-level power in a major conference, like a South Carolina, looks around, sees the Boise State model for postseason success and wonders if life might not be better in the Sun Belt.  At present, the numbers for that make no sense – college football’s big bucks still come out of the regular season – but if down the road an extended playoff flips that, why not?  A school like that has a passionate fan base which will always make it attractive to bowls and if it flips to a mid-major conference it can dominate, it’ll likely be consistently ranked highly.

Sure, it’s an unlikely scenario.  But had you asked me a year ago if we’d see Steve Spurrier lobbying for a divisional record-based qualification for the SECCG, I’d have said that was unlikely, too.  If there’s one lesson we should take from college football over the past couple of years, it’s never say never.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

10 responses to “No AQ for you

  1. Go Dawgs!

    In short, they’re dancing dangerously close to the edge of ruining college football.

    I used to gas off about a playoff as much as the next guy. The simple fact of the matter, though, is that the national championship in college football doesn’t matter. It’s great if you win it. If you don’t, you can still have a special season. But the Senator’s point is a good one, now that we’re taking away a lot of incentives for schools to stay together in their conferences, you’re looking at the possibility of what’s made the sport special eroding away one day.


  2. TomReagan

    If we’re talking about South Carolina, I expect that they’d rather go back to being a football independent than joining a smaller conference. I don’t think any conference would accept them as a partial member, though.

    How odd would it be if the destruction of the bowl system ends up leading to the return of the football independent? Even though it’s a pipe dream, it would be some solace for the traditionalists.


  3. Saint Johns Dawg

    Put back in a “strength of schedule” component that makes sense and the conference affiliation argument is lessened, in my opinion.


  4. hedonism

    You hear that? That’s the sound of South Carolina fans sharpening their pitchforks. I can see the general idea, but it’s hard for me to conceptualize a world where a handful of tournament games produce more revenue than a 10-12 game regular season,

    My favorite highly speculative scenario right now is where a group of 8 or so schools break off from major conferences to form an entirely new league. Think Kansas, K-State, South Carolina, Clemson, Air Force, Mizzou, West Virginia, etc. The tricky part is whether any top tier programs would make such a move. Miami is the first school that comes to mind, and Notre Dame is technically available but I don’t see them doing anything for obvious reasons. If they do, it would be some kind of odd “Notre Dame and Friends” conference with ND, Miami, service academies, and a few other schools thrown in.

    This is a long shot because I think the top 4 conferences are stable, but if the new, larger ACC and SEC prove problematic for the middle class of those leagues anything is possible.


  5. Cojones

    Senator, you are right on about Big East. That would make for 6 big guys and two to be chosen in my scenario for an 8 team playoff. I realize that some flinch and surmise it’s wrongheaded, but it isn’t. The only catch is continual travel for the fanbase of winning teams. If the semifinals and finals are campus based, it becomes college football again with full interest and highly pleasing to half the attendees. If we were in the semis and Final, I don’t care where it’s played and I don’t think the college fanbases do either; we would be there.

    The big plum for such a scenario is to return the most important games to the college campuses. We then have a GA/FU game allocation of tickets, 50-50.


  6. Cojones

    Easing into a playoff with a 4-team scenario places the selection (by the same people now selecting) into the same category that we now have with two teams designated to play for NC. That isn’t logical if you call this a “playoff”. “Natl Selection, part Deux” is a better name. Another game of selected teams won’t cut it and we all will be at each other’s throats in college football fandom. The BCS has kept its full power and added a game, that’s all.

    The top 8 teams would place the contest into the best playoff scenario possible w/o dilution. No need for slippage if you hit the target first shot. Otherwise, we will argue for two more years and finally go to 8 teams. Get those teams from your bowl champion matchups. It’s more inclusive, more exciting for the bowl game because the reward would be to win your way into the NC . Better than just more bling in the Trophy Case. We all could have our cake and eat it too. Of course, the bowls will have to share more an have lower prices for the schools or they will find they have no bowl games.

    I would be stoked to see UGA in a playoff scenario. I think it helps the game to have a playoff. Undermatched ooc games reduce excitement and dilute the season, not playoff games.


  7. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Insightful analysis, Senator. I’m not thinking a South Carolina though. The Dicks…er…Cocks get too much dough from the SEC to ever want to leave. Same with the rest of the SEC members. The SEC is where everybody wants in. More likely Boise deserts the Big East as you say, one of the wannabes from C-USA jumps to the Sun Belt and takes over there (Southern Miss?), etc.


  8. TrinityEer

    The reason why schools will stay in major conferences is the easiest one: money. South Carolina, as a mid tier in the SEC will make more money than most every Sun Belt school combined.

    As for a football perspective, as Boise St, TCU, etc…never made a title game going undefeated in the old system, I don’t see the new system being any different however it ends up.

    Without the AQ status, I would think almost assuredly Boise St and SDSU will leave the BE. This is of some interest due to the Notre Dame situation. Will BE survive or fold and the Catholic schools form their own basketball league? Dominos still out there to fall…


  9. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Following the Senator’s logic the smart thing for ND to do would be to form its own conference with a bunch of schools that may be pretty good academically but not up to ND’s level athletically. Raid the MAC and get Miami of Ohio and Ohio U. Extend offers to Army and Navy. Look at the remaining schools from the Big East (not the new ones). UConn immediately comes to mind . ND could put together a conference with about 8 members that it could dominate in football thus justifying its inclusion in the playoffs. ND probably could get a TV deal for the conference that would garner a lot of $$ and, like Texas, grab most of it.