College football Armageddon is here. Forget the realignment moves of a year ago. Things are about to get really crazy. After more than 125 years of play, the sport is on the verge of its most radical makeover.
Last week’s announcement of the SEC and Big 12 forming a bowl partnership to pit its champions against each other following the 2014 season is a game changer for the sport.
Never mind that the conference champions will likely never play a game against one another. Since the BCS era began in 1998, the two conferences have appeared in 12 of the last 14 BCS Championship Games. With a four-team playoff coming, there’s virtually no chance that either champion will appear in the yet to be announced bowl.
What the game does is establish direct bowl tie-ins for the now four major conferences. With the Big 10 and Pac 12 tied to the Rose Bowl, we suddenly have a clear line between the haves and have-nots.
The big losers are the ACC and Big East – not to mention Notre Dame. Where do they go? Watching Maryland face Connecticut in the Orange Bowl just doesn’t have the appeal of a once beaten Auburn facing a one-loss Texas team.
If Florida State was simply kicking the tires last week when it floated the idea of moving to the Big 12, today they are probably in route to conference headquarters in Dallas wearing 10 gallon hats.
With the Big East in shambles and the football schools in the ACC in panic mode, the SEC may again be in expansion mode. The same goes for the other three major conferences.
The idea of four 16-team super conferences is more likely now than ever before. The driver in this is money – big whopping dollars. Some have speculated that the new deal the SEC is negotiating with its media partners could approach $20 billion. Throw in another two teams and that number goes much higher.
Should the ACC and Big East dismantle in the near future, where would the SEC turn for its final two slots? The early money is on Virginia and Virginia Tech. Florida and South Carolina will likely make it impossible for Florida State or Clemson to make the jump to the SEC. The same goes for Georgia with Georgia Tech.
In the coming months, maybe even the coming days, we are going to see a land grab by these conferences not seen since the days of the Gold Rush. The stakes couldn’t be higher for these programs that currently reside in the ACC and Big East.
If I’m sitting in my office in Atlanta or Clemson today, I’m a little panicked. In short order a lot of programs are going to be in the big show or not. Our sport is changing forever.
Count me among those who see it as a positive. I once loved the bowl system, now I hate it. It’s outdated and antiquated. Creating four super conferences with championships at the end of the season, followed by a four-team playoff is the best possible scenario for now.
Like the NCAA Tournament, we’ll see it expand over time. Within 10 years we’ll be at eight teams. The days of strength of schedule and computer rankings will be behind us. The best regular season in all of sports will have an equally compelling post season.
It can’t get here fast enough for me.