Last month, as the postseason landscape began shift and lurch beneath the weight of the coming four-team playoff, the Big 12 and SEC made a bid for stability by throwing in together on a new bowl game: In years in which either league's regular season champion failed to qualify for the playoff, the champ could still salvage a respectable landing in the tentatively named "Champions Bowl." Of course, in years in which one or both champions do make the playoffs – which both conference hope and expect to be most years – the champ(s) will be replaced by a high-ranking runner-up. In which case the agreement is virtually indistinguishablefrom the one the Big 12 and SEC currently share in the Cotton Bowl.
Now, according to interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas (via the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls), the "Champions Bowl" might actually be the Cotton Bowl:
Big 12's Neinas explains Champions Bowl "could become Cotton Bowl. We're willing to work w a bowl game and have that game become that game."— kbohls (@kbohls) June 22, 2012
That is, instead of creating an entirely new bowl, as everyone previously assumed, the criteria for the Champions Bowl may just be assumed by a game that already exists, as everyone previously joked. Sometimes it really is as easy as it looks.
If there is any existing entity that stands to gain from the arrival of a playoff and the accompanying dissolution of the BCS, it's the Cotton Bowl Classic. In the first place, the Cotton Bowl game itself may get a bump in prestige by occasionally hosting the Big 12 or SEC champion (or both), as well as slightly higher-ranked teams than it typically gets now. Meanwhile, if conference commissioners and presidents follow through on their proposal to rotate semifinal playoff games among the four current BCS bowl sites – the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls – and bid out the championship game, there is a very good chance the Classic (the organization behind the game, not the game itself) will be in the mix to host the national title gameon a regular basis in Jerry Jones' palatial personal shrine, Cowboys Stadium. For the moment, the current BCS sites look like longshots for that distinction.
Do the math: On one side of the scale, there's a high-level bowl game every year plus the championship game every four or five years; on the other, a high-level bowl game every year that's designated as a semifinal every two or three years. Suddenly, getting left out of the BCS at the beginning isn't looking like such bad luck after all.