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College Football Insider

Big East commish: Seventh playoff bowl alive and well

The commissioners' discussion last month about adding a seventh playoff bowl has legs and the concept is not fading, Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco told CBS Sports.

ESPN reported Wednesday the seventh game -- designed to give the five smaller conferences access to the new playoff format starting in 2014 -- was becoming unlikely, in part because of the bowl's lesser worth compared to other access sites.

The bowl would match a champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt Conferences against a Big 12 or Pac-12 team.

"The commissioners have all voiced support for this," Aresco said. "I don't know where the talk of it not happening came from, but we're pretty confident it can get done. We think it has real value."

The exact value is still uncertain, as reports have pegged the game in the $20-25 million range, much lower than the Rose Bowl ($80 million) or equivalents but still good money for the five conferences trying to get into the playoff mix.

Six bowl games are expected to enter the playoff system. The Rose, Orange and Champions Bowl will be rotating sites for national semifinals. The Fiesta, Sugar and Cotton Bowls (the last two are vying to host the Champions) are in the discussion.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said today on CBS' The Tim Brando Show that a decision on the sevnenth bowl is 6-9 months down the road.

"Whether there are going to be six of seven (bowls), that's an open question ... Any speculation on a seventh bowl is premature," Scott said.

The Big East would be a key cog in the seventh bowl, but could also have access to one of the other six spots depending on where its teams rank.

Aresco was not willing to place a figure on the game and acknowledged there are too many moving parts to cement its future. Getting a feasible TV deal and selling tickets are two of them.

"(The commissioners) were convinced there should be more access," Aresco said.

The Big East is immersed in media rights talks with ESPN, whose 60-day exclusive negotiating window with the conference expires at the end of the month. Aresco said his research has led him to believe the Big East has "enormous value" and has several interested networks outside of ESPN. The NBC Sports Network is assumed to be one.

As for conference realignment, Aresco believes the Big East will be comfortable with up to 14 teams but doesn't envision 16-team expansion. Navy joins in 2015 as the 13th team, and the Big East would like to add one more, possibly Air Force.

"Our group doesn't want to have a nine-game schedule," Aresco said.


Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
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