Hidden in the recent BCS bowl dealings is the fact college football is locked out of a playoff now for at least 10 years. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said as much last week at the conference's annual preseason media days.
|The Rose Bowl's TV deal sets the landscape.(AP)|
The likelihood of a playoff remains about the same as the BCS enters its seventh year of existence: Slim and none. The news is someone in power is willing to put a number to it now that the BCS is about to go into its third contract.
ABC and the Rose Bowl agreed to an eight-year deal last week that begins with the 2007 game. Counting the two remaining years of the current deal (2004, 2005), that binds the Rose and ABC for the next 10 years. That also opens the door for the other three BCS bowls (Fiesta, Orange, Sugar) to join the same timeline.
The conclusion of the Rose Bowl negotiation makes it more likely ABC will retain exclusive rights to the BCS. Two sources familiar with the situation told SportsLine.com this week it makes sense that the three other bowls extend out the agreement with ABC eight years, as well, beginning with the 2006 season.
"The sense is that deal that the Rose Bowl made will be replicated (with the other bowls)," one source said. "It will be the same framework or format that they'll try to negotiate for the other bowls."
The source expects Fiesta, Orange and Sugar to sign what amounts to a contract that would take the current contract out through the 2013 season (2014 bowls). That contract could be two four-year deals or one, single eight-year deal. The thinking being, as long as everyone is making money and the Rose Bowl is already on board, why change things?
If another four-year deal is signed, the parties would have to come together in 3½ more years to begin discussing a new deal. Plus, during an eight-year deal, it is speculated some of the older BCS commissioners might retire or step down. If the BCS piece is in place, it makes the transition within those conferences easier.
The Rose and ABC have been partners since 1989. The Rose reportedly received an 18 percent increase to $30 million annually for the rights to the game. It is generally assumed the BCS overall will get a modest increase in the rights fees because of the "devaluation" of the product because of the presence of the coalition teams. ABC paid $525 million total for the rights to televise the first eight years of the BCS through the 2005 season.
Coalition (non-BCS) teams will have easier access to the BCS in the next contract. Delany announced last week the Rose Bowl will be bound to take a coalition team only once during that eight-year period.
That seems to put an unequal burden on the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange. If a coalition team qualifies in six of eight years -- not unlikely -- then at least one of the other three bowls would have to take a coalition team twice during those eight years. How those games will be parceled out has not been determined.
Barring any drastic change of heart by the presidents, that means a playoff couldn't be instituted until the end of the 2014 season. The presidents showed earlier this year they weren't going to budge an inch. The latest reincarnation of the BCS in 2006 includes the awkward "piggyback" model: One of the four BCS bowls hosting two games each year.