The source of one college football postseason idea pitched this week shouldn’t be surprising.
According to a person in the room at Monday’s BCS meeting, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany pitched a model whereby only the No. 1 and No. 2 teams would be matched in the postseason. That would basically eliminate the other BCS bowl tie-ins in the 14-year-old system.
The proposal essentially is a roll back to the old Bowl Alliance that was in effect from 1995-97. On its face, the proposal seemingly benefits the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 the most.
The Big Ten could not immediately confirm Delany as the source of the idea since the commissioner was traveling on Friday. However, another source in the room at the San Francisco meeting said the idea stood out among several that day because it was “new.” The source would not confirm the model came from Delany.
Using Delany’s idea, the relationship with the current BCS bowls – Orange, Fiesta, Sugar and Rose – would end. At the beginning of the season all schools would have an equal chance to get into the championship game. Supposedly, some kind of rating system would be used to rank teams.
Below that championship game, schools and bowls would be free to arrange their own deals. In the old Bowl Alliance, the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Eight, SEC and Southwest conferences, along with an at-large team, were matched in the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls. The Rose, Big Ten and Pac-10 did not participate at the time. The uniqueness of the Alliance was that there were no conference tie-ins to particular bowls.
BCS commissioners began saying in December that they might go back to the old bowl system if pushed by non-BCS schools.
There were other ideas Monday during what was termed a preliminary meeting meant for informal proposals. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson weighed in. Thompson was already on record with his 16-team playoff proposal. CBSSports.com reported last week there was growing support to get rid of automatic qualifiers in the BCS. One result of that could be a top 10, 12, or 14 ranking that would have to be attained to get into a BCS bowl.
Delany’s idea would reflect the elimination of automatic qualifiers. The so-called “AQs” are the champions of the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and SEC. Notre Dame and champions of lesser conferences can currently qualifier for BCS bowls if they meet a set of benchmarks.
Delany’s particular model doesn’t address an age-old BCS problem: What about No. 3 and below, the teams that get left out? The commissioners discussed legal concerns that could emerge from that situation according to a source.
Also, if automatic qualifiers are eliminated, it would seem there would have to be some kind of access for non-AQs. Teams from non-BCS leagues – MAC, WAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mountain West – have enjoyed improved access to BCS bowls since 2003. During that time the success of schools such as Boise State, Utah and TCU developed into David-vs.-Goliath stories that captured the nation’s attention.
There is also the significant issue of revenue distribution.
It’s a good bet that under Delany’s plan, the Rose Bowl would be “protected”. In other words, the bowl would have access to the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 each year unless one or both schools were involved in the championship game.
Because the ACC and Big East have struggled to be nationally relevant in recent years, Delany’s proposal would directly benefit the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and Big 12. Teams from those four conferences have played in some combination in the last eight BCS title games.
It can’t be stressed enough the preliminary nature of Monday’s meeting. After discussing various models at the 1 ½-hour meeting, commissioners were to go back to their conferences to present them with their schools. One source called it “process and procedure.”
The commissioners meet again in person Jan. 10 in New Orleans, the day after the BCS title game. It is at that meeting and subsequent ones that a clearer view of college football’s postseason going forward will begin to emerge. The commissioners must develop a postseason model to present to ESPN during its exclusive negotiating window that begins in October. If ESPN passes during those negotiations, then the model would go out to bid.
The current BCS model is in effect through the 2014 bowls.