Big 12-SEC game hurts bowls, helps Cowboys Stadium
05/18/2012 11:42 PM
05/19/2012 6:40 AM
Wow. Just wow.
My first thought when the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference announced a five-year agreement for their football champions to meet in a Jan. 1 bowl game after the 2014 season was, How did they do this without it ever been leaked to the rumor mill?
Well, maybe that was my second thought after the one about Jerry Jones and his $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington getting in on the bidding process and making the Fort Worth-Dallas area a prominent player in college football again.
But more on that in a minute.
Back to this announcement and those super secret meetings.
Was Twitter broken or something?
I mean, this was no announcement to say we are looking into it or discussing it.
It's a done deal. Papers are signed. The hay is in the barn.
That was downright gangster, befitting the mob bosses of the respective leagues.
Give a slow clap to interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. Of course, you can't leave out de facto Big 12 commish and part-time Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
They handled their business and have effectively turned the outdated and often corrupt bowl system on its head.
Forget that the bowls have been cut out of the process in this landmark agreement that will complement the new four-team playoff system to decide the king of college football.
"A new January bowl tradition is born," Slive said. "This new game will provide a great matchup between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model. Most important, it will provide our student-athletes, coaches and fans with an outstanding bowl experience."
Keep in mind this game will only pit the champions of the two conferences if they are not in the four-team championship series.
Let's be real. That's unlikely to happen.
Here are the facts straight from the Big 12-SEC release:
"During the 14-year history of the Bowl Championship Series, the Big 12 and SEC lead the nation with 11 seasons in which each conference has had at least one team ranked in the top four of the final BCS standings. Both conferences share the top spot all-time with 14 teams each that have finished in the top four of the final BCS standings. The two conferences have combined for 16 appearances in the BCS National Championship Game, with the Big 12 ranking second behind the SEC's nine appearances with seven trips ...."
This doesn't include the overwhelming fact that the SEC has won the past six BCS national championships, a streak that began after Texas of the Big 12 beat USC for the title in January 2006.
What this game does is guarantee that the No. 2 teams from the Big 12 and SEC get a prime-time game against a top opponent.
In most years, that means Texas or Oklahoma will face an Alabama, LSU, Florida or Georgia, providing the most prominent and talked-about matchup outside of the four-team playoff.
OU doesn't have to worry about playing Connecticut or Boise State again.
It will almost certainly trump the Rose Bowl game between the champions of the Big Ten and the Pac-12, not in history but in interest.
The interest is what will overturn the bowl system and open the door for JerryWorld to make things happen locally.
The site of the game has not been selected. The conferences will accept bids for what they hope will be "a long-term location for the game," according to Neinas.
Obviously, the Superdome in New Orleans, Reliant Stadium in Houston and Cowboys Stadium are the most likely and preferred destinations.
And nobody outbids Jones when he wants something.
The big question for Jones and the Cowboys is what the new game means for the Cotton Bowl, which is played at Cowboys Stadium.
According to a source, the Cowboys will likely let the Cotton Bowl take the lead in bidding for the new game.
They don't have much interest in hosting the Cotton Bowl, the new game and also be involved in bidding on the four-team playoff and the championship game.
If the Cowboys are involved in the new game, it will likely involve the Cotton Bowl in some capacity. Simple logistics prevent them from doing the Cotton Bowl and the new game. There is no doubt they will be part of the bidding process for the four-team playoff and championship game.
The good news for the conferences is that the new game will be an instant cash cow for both. There is no network tie-in, so networks, too, will bid for a much-ballyhooed game.
I'm talking hundreds of millions that could approach $1 billion over the lifetime of the prospective contract with the site and the television partner.
The talk of Florida State, Clemson and possibly Notre Dame joining the Big 12 will pick up more steam. The Big 12 and SEC have drawn a line in the sand as far college football is concerned.
The Pac-12 and Big Ten will be fine. But the ACC could be on the verge of cratering.
Clearly, the move means more for the Big 12 than the SEC, because there has never been a question about its dominance. It shows the Big 12 is strong, viable and unafraid to face a top SEC team every year.
It also could mean renewing the rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M, which ended when the Aggies fled to the SEC. Of course, that's only if Texas A&M wins the SEC one day.
And that's a big if.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.
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