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.