Today, the Big 12 and SEC announced that they have entered into a five-year contract which will allow champion of each conference to play each other in a New Year’s Day bowl game beginning in 2014. The contract is tailored to fit in with the new four-team playoff model, in that if the respective Big 12 and SEC champions are set to play in that game, different schools from each conference will play in the Big 12 and SEC match-up.
In making this announcement, the Big 12 and SEC have kept themselves ahead of the game when it comes to the reorganization of the college football playoff structure resulting from the expiration of the BCS’ current deal. This should come as no surprise to college football fans, as SEC commissioner Mike Slive has been at the forefront of proposing captivating alternatives to the current BCS system. It was Slive who first suggested the four-team playoff system, which will likely be adopted as the new BCS alternative. Today, Slive has once again protected the football notoriety of his conference, and the Big 12 has done the same, by ensuring that one team from each conference is present in a major, New Year’s Day bowl game.
The possibilities for this match-up are nearly endless, and quite fascinating. When considering the conference realignment landscape that took Big 12 programs Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, this proposal raises the possibility that those two teams could someday face off against former rivals on national television on New Year’s Day. For fans mourning the end of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, this agreement presents the opportunity for the rivalry to flourish on a large-scale stage. Understandably, that would require both teams to become the champion of their football-competitive conference–but, at least it’s a possibility.
Questions remain about how the bowl will be orchestrated. For instance, it is unknown whether it will be held in a set location annually, like the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s Rose Bowl, or if it will travel to a new location each year. Given that SEC and Big 12 fans travel more than fans from other conferences, it may be worth each conference’s time to investigate the possibility of rotating the bowl game throughout various sites. This would open up the possibility of attending the game to more of the fans who are diehard supporters of SEC and Big 12 football. Additionally, it would raise the possibility of introducing each conference’s respective teams to new markets.
In the future, issues that will need to be addressed as a result of this bowl marriage relate to the bowls that each conference is currently aligned with. For instance, the Big 12 champion plays in the Fiesta Bowl each year. Will that continue? Is it possible that the agreement will result in the Fiesta Bowl being one of the sites that the bowl rotates through? Furthermore, what will happen to the current Big 12 No. 2-SEC No. 4 or 5 matchup, better known as the Cotton Bowl? Like the possibility just noted about the Fiesta Bowl, could this new bowl also rotate through the Cotton Bowl location? What will become of the SEC champion hosting Sugar Bowl?
My hunch is that the bowls will not agree to a game which rotates amongst them. Such would not be lucrative to the bowls. Thus, what the Big 12 and SEC have done with this move, is to strip the respective bowls of their power and transfer it to themselves. In doing so, they’ve opened up a bidding war of sorts, where the bowls will be expected to woo them with options. If none is suitable to the conferences, my guess is that they will launch a new bowl which will rotate throughout Big 12 and SEC locations.
Overall, this is a great move by the Big 12 and SEC. It is so, because it is a move that keeps them on top of the bowl shuffling/college football playoff landscape.