“If you can, you do it. If you can’t, you fold.”

If there was any doubt that the bowls are the biggest losers in the new postseason arrangement, the new ACC-Orange Bowl deal should put that to rest.  That’s because the most significant part of it is this:

Along with the announcement that it will be aligned with the Orange Bowl, the ACC also told ESPN that it now controls the broadcast rights to the bowl, meaning that it will be taking bids on who broadcasts it, and will be taking at least 50 percent of those broadcast rights for itself.

It’s evidence of a sea change in who’s calling the shots.

“It’s a de-centralization,” one BCS source said. “Conferences taking control of their bowl games and determining who participates in the games. It’s the conferences really loaning their bowl games to us to have semifinals.”

In other words, the bowls no longer control themselves.  And because of that, the new regime is going to be awfully confusing.

So when you hear the term “contract bowl” to describe the Rose, Champions and Orange bowls, it literally means those games have their own contracts with individual conferences. Hence, if they lose one of their contracted champions to the playoff, they can replace that team with any other team from that partner conference, minimum ranking be damned. The BCS is not dictating which conferences get these contracts. There’s nothing stopping one of those bowls from signing the Big East or Mountain West, but realistically it’s not going to happen. Not everybody’s going to like it, but that’s life in a free market.

Where it gets truly confusing, though — and where one might argue things really aren’t that deregulated — is that these bowls will still have a connection to the three other “access” bowls and, obviously, to the playoff itself. If, say, the Rose Bowl is hosting a semifinal one year and the Big Ten champion doesn’t make the playoff, that team still has a protected spot waiting for it in one of the other three bowls. “If you give up your contracted bowl to have a semifinal, then your champion would have a berth in one of the other games,” Hancock said of those conferences. However, if in the same scenario that champion did make the playoff, no bowl would be obligated to take a second Big Ten team, and it might not even be possible, as those de facto at-large spots would be determined by the selection committee’s rankings.

Got that?  If you don’t, Dennis Dodd summarizes it neatly.

In essence, the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC are secure enough in their teams’ ability to compete for national championships that their bowls don’t have to part of the playoff on a regular basis. Teams from those four leagues have won national championships in 16 of the last 18 years.

Welcome to settling it on the field, bitches.  When the fait is made accompli, it’ll dawn on everybody who’s been slobbering for an end to the BCS that they’ve been used as an excuse for the big conferences to consolidate their hold on the postseason.  Or, to put it another way,

I’m already on record as saying the new college football playoff is little more than a tightening of financial screws by the old BCS power structure. I mean, look at the BCS official web site. It’s trumpeting the new playoff. If the BCS is dead, how can it dance on its own grave?

Well played, gentlemen.

The one thing that’ll be fun to watch is what ESPN, owner of seemingly half the minor bowls in existence and broadcaster of many more, will do when the suits inevitably push to expand the playoff.  Per everyone’s go-to former sports TV exec Neal Pilson,

“The problem with 16 teams is you’re killing the bowls,” Pilson said. “You can’t run it into late January. If you try it with eight teams, you’ve got to start playing Christmas week. [With too large a playoff] each of those bowl games you kill has two senators and at least one Congressman who is going to fight you.

“I clearly think this is the best idea.”

Hey, you can’t please everybody.

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UPDATE:  Brian Cook is dead on with this.

In the long term, John Junker’s Fiesta Bowl plunder may be a benefit for college football since it seems like it was a wakeup call to college football conferences. Slapped with a torrent of bad publicity, various commissioners descended to the war room to plan strategy, found that they had all the power, and proceeded using it.

And PlayoffPAC thought it was helping to usher in college football’s brave new world when it went after Junker.  Congrats, guys.  They’ll probably wind up naming the new national title trophy after him.

16 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, It's Just Bidness

16 responses to ““If you can, you do it. If you can’t, you fold.”

  1. ScoutDawg

    “Welcome to settling it on the field, bitches”. Nice.

  2. I wanna Red Cup

    Thanks for keeping us educated on the new system Senator. I admit that with my thick skull I still can’t figure it out. Like you I am becoming increasingly pessimistic that these assholes are going to screw it all up. I want the regular season to count, want to see meaningful games against real opponents, and the major bowls on New years Day. I think all of these minor piss ant bowls need to go. There is no interest in half of them and the result is empty stadiums, poor TV ratings, and the schools having to buy unused tickets and losing money. The hell with WWL and their programming needs. I am afraid we are going to end up the way of CBB and end up having too many teams in a playoff so that CFB as we know it will not exist. The money grabbing bastards are going to make it a pure TV sport.
    That being said, how much longer till kickoff?

  3. Doug

    The more I read about the machinations involved in setting up the new playoff system, the more it looks to me like the college football equivalent of Orwell’s Animal Farm — everybody’s trumpeting this new, supposedly more egalitarian system that, in practical terms, seems little different from (and certainly no more transparent than) what we’ve already got, which everyone supposedly hates.

    Go back to the pre-Coalition, every-conference-for-itself situation and be done with it.

    • That’s more-or-less that they’ve done, except that the selection committee is apparently assigning teams to the empty spots instead of the bowls.

      Essentially, what they’ve done — aside from actually increasing the number of teams in the playoff from 2 to 4, not an insignificant development, obviously — is find a way to give the Big East the boot and shut the Mountain West up for good without getting sued.

  4. JasonC

    When I read this statement: “Teams from those four leagues have won national championships in 16 of the last 18 years.” It put something I saw yesterday on the WWL in perspective. In the 1980s, Independents won 7 out of 10 AP National Titles. Those days are long, long gone.

    With the landscape changing right now, it might be good to go back and see what made the Independents leave that status after having such a good run.

  5. TrinityEer

    Remember the quote from West Virginia AD Luck that you have quoted once or twice – “it isn’t the schools’ job to make money for these people”..or something to that effect? Here it is.

  6. Are we dumping the Sugar now in favor of this Champions deal with the Big 12? Or are we simply going to make that the Sugar Bowl?

    • If by “we” you mean the SEC, no. The Sugar will get an SEC team when there’s only one SEC team in the playoffs.

      • But the Sugar no longer gets the SEC Champ, and is just another bowl in the pecking order like the Outback or Music City? That doesn’t seem right (not saying you’re wrong, just that considering it’s history, that’s a shame). You’d think being located where it is, centrally for the SEC and Big 12 geopgrahy, it’d be a perfect spot for our new Bowl creation.

        • But the Sugar no longer gets the SEC Champ…

          It already didn’t in those years when SEC winner played title game in another BCS bowl.

          • True, but it still had a certain prestige to it and got the champ in years the SEC champ wasn’t in the BCS game (2005?). This new game would seem to knock it even further down the ladder, and that seems wrong considering how New Orleans is situated perfectly for such a game between our best non playoff team, and the Big 12′s best non-playoff team, as well as the historical significance of the Sugar to our conference.

            • It’s all about the money now.

              • Is there not money in the brand name of the Sugar? I guess probably not enough to make it worth buying that name off whoever owns it’s rights. But, and I guess this is my point in the questions, you’d think New Orleans would be well situated for this game given the conferences involved, and be looking to fold it in to the current set up for the Sugar Bowl, instead of letting that game continue it’s slide to less relevance. Maybe we already have a higher offer on the table from Jerrah to put it in his palace as a psuedo Cotton Bowl.

  7. Dog in Fla

    “They’ll probably wind up naming the new national title trophy after him.”

    With that in mind, it is expected that the Junkers Trophy will be an all-metal fabrication, instead of glass, to protect against crashes/breakages in Wal-Mart and/or Nick Saban’s executive suite of recruiting offices

    “Junkers, was a major German aircraft manufacturer….During World War I, and following the war, the company became famous for its pioneering all-metal aircraft. During World War II the company produced some of the most successful Luftwaffe planes, as well as piston and jet aircraft engines, albeit in the absence of its founder, who by then had been removed by the Nazis.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_(Aircraft)

  8. Scorpio Jones, III

    So, we are back to the way it used to be in the Sugar Bowl…I wonder if Nick Saban takes Bear’s vote?

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