Implications of the new Football Four: Irish become commoners and a wilted Rose
Big 12 expansion, future of Notre Dame both affected by playoff
|Notre Dame no longer has an exclusive in with college football's premier postseason games. (US Presswire)|
We waited a day, that's at least enough time to absorb the implications of the first major-college football playoff.
Now, onto digging down on the biggest issues to be determined going forward ...
Big 12 expansion: All you need to know is there is every indication the ACC is going to get an equal revenue share to the Big Four (Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten). Access to an (estimated) annual $500 million treasure chest for a league that is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the national championship chase is huge.
While that makes it less likely that Florida State/Miami/Virginia Tech/Clemson would want to leave the ACC, that’s not really the argument. The issue is how predatory the Big 12 wants to be. As mentioned, the league could create a de facto eight-team playoff by expanding to (at least) 12 teams.
|More on CFB playoff|
The Big 12 says it is fine with 10, but less than a year ago the BCS commissioners were fine with the BCS. Stay tuned. There is nothing in the playoff set-up that drives the Big 12 one way or another, except the reason the playoff was formed: Money. Adding the right teams would make it more likely the Big 12 could get multiple teams in the top four.
Any Big 12 expansion discussion begins and ends with Notre Dame. That’s the conference’s first choice. This playoff doesn’t necessarily force the Irish into a conference. ND still loves the freedom of independence, of assembling its own schedule, of playing all over so its legion of fans can see it. It was key that the playoff didn’t go with conference champs only. Notre Dame has the same access to the playoff as everyone else. That, however, is suddenly a problem. See below.
Rose Bowl: It was a sad day in Pasadena. When a playoff arrives, the Rose will keep Jan 1 time slot, the most lucrative in college sports. It will keep its traditional partners – sometimes. But in years when the Rose is a national semifinal, the traditional Rose Bowl (Big Ten-Pac-12) will not be played.
That will be the end of a century of tradition. Rose loyalists are having a hard time imaging a Tournament of Roses parade celebrating, say, Mississippi State and South Carolina in a national semi.
Even for those who don’t understand the greatness of the Rose’s history and tradition, that’s going to take some getting used to.
Human committee: Per Jim Delany the number of carbon-based life forms picking the four teams will be more than 10 and less than 20.
While that sounds like Family Feud – 100 people surveyed, most popular numbers between 10 and 20 – I still can’t shake myself. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Fifteen people deciding who will play for football’s national championship? For starters, there can be no active or former coaches on this committee. Too many inherent biases with a group that small.
There’s a big difference between that and the NCAA basketball committee. Plus, I still don’t think the commissioners have grasped the level of scrutiny in this TMZ age.
The committee will release weekly standings of the top 20 on its list from midseason, according to the South Bend Tribune.
"We didn't want the top four teams to just come out of the blue at the end of the season," AD Jack Swarbrick said.
However, any football source on a committee that small will be perceived to be biased. The further you get away from football for committee members, the less they actually know about the sport. No celebrity members. No politicians. So, please, no Barack Obama when he leaves office because ... he is a sports fan.
The commissioners are banking on the Football Four being fairly evident each year. The committee won’t release weekly polls. The AP and coaches’ polls will be around to shape public opinion, including the committee’s.
Think of it this way: The first time a deserving SEC team is left out for any reason, head for the nuclear fallout shelters. A (bleep) storm is about to hit.
The Joy of Six: Which six bowls are going to be in the rotation? You know four of them – Rose, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar. The mass assumption is that Jerry Jones will involve Cowboys Stadium whether it’s the Champions Bowl becoming the Cotton Bowl or some other model.
That leaves a sixth slot. Figure that Atlanta (Georgia Dome) will make a big push to be added to the rotation. The Chick-fil-A folks stage three games a year. The SEC plays its title game in the Georgia Dome. The infrastructure and interest are already there.
As for the championship game, it will be bigger than the Final Four. Second only to the Super Bowl. A build-up of more than a week. The speculation is that Jones wants in for the first game in 2015. He will be in competition with Tampa, Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Orleans and others for that title game.
Expect the bidding to start $15 million-$20 million to host the championship game. Or what Jones calls pocket change.
Notre Dame: Until further notice, Notre Dame just became a commoner -- at least less of a king of college football. That is, unless there is something we don’t know about ND’s role in the playoff.
In the old system, ND was given special access to the BCS (top 14 consideration, top eight automatic). That access diminished over the years to the point that the school is being handed $1.3 million each year just for being … Notre Dame. Its take if it actually got into a BCS bowl is $6.1 million, at large money. But that hasn’t happened in six years.
Tuesday’s announcement contained no mention of special access for Notre Dame. However, the Tribune also reported that teams ranked 5-12 in the human committee at the end of the season would be eligible for the four major bowls not in the semifinals.
That's eight spots in any given year. However, the number of availabe spots could be cut to as few as four if, say, the Sugar and Orange are in the national semis. The Rose and Champions bowls would then conceivably account for four of the eight spots with the champions of the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and Big 12.
Just to refresh your memory, the Irish have finished in the top 12 of the AP poll four times since 1995, none since 2006. ND could sign an agreement with, say, the Orange Bowl if it finishes at least 8-4/9-3. But that would give the Irish special access to a bowl, not special access to the system. For that to happen, ND will have to get better at football. When that happens is a significant and open-ended question.
Dan Wetzel: If you’re reading this, you’ll know the editors allowed a nod to the competition to creep into the blog. As the playoff settles into our consciousness, I can’t get away from the fact that CBSSports.com’s former columnist and colleague had a lot to do with it.
His book “Death To the BCS”, (with Jeff Passan and Josh Peter) at least nudged the commissioners forward with enough embarrassment to consider a playoff.
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