BCS Meetings: Notre Dame's Influence in Postseason Could Be Dwindling
Decision-makers are meeting this week in Hollywood, Fla. in an effort to narrow down the options for college football's future postseason format. Included in the meetings are the conference commissioners for all 11 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences and Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick.
As my colleague Michael Felder over at Your Best 11 pointed out, Notre Dame is still quite healthy on the business side of things.
It's a shame it hasn't been relevant on the football field lately.
At some point, Notre Dame is going to have to get back in the BCS title hunt or join a conference, because that bottom line isn't sustainable if Notre Dame remains irrelevant.
The television money being thrown around is mind-boggling these days. Kristi Dosh of ESPN.com estimates that the new BCS contract—which Notre Dame will be included in—is worth anywhere between $600 million and $1.5 billion per year.
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This is coming on the heels of groundbreaking television deals by the Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 and will be followed by what's certain to be a mammoth re-negotiated deal for the 14-team SEC.
Conference expansion, four-team playoff discussions and giant television contracts are all leading us into an era of four super-conferences and an eventual split of FBS into two separate divisions.
NBC currently holds the rights to Notre Dame broadcasts through 2015, and that contract is a big reason why the athletic department is so profitable.
But what happens if the landscape changes again?
Should Notre Dame join a conference?
I've already noted that BCS leaders have chosen not to reserve spots in a four-team playoff for conference champions—and that's a good thing. But what if the next time the leaders of our sport negotiate the postseason television rights, we have a 16-team SEC, 16-team Pac-12 and other conferences that are in the midst of another round of expansion?
In that scenario, a postseason conference champion mandate will probably be more likely, and with the money that will be thrown around, Notre Dame isn't powerful enough to elbow its way into that format.
NBC is clinging to its one major college football property. That property isn't nationally relevant on the field now, and BCS leaders are kicking the can down a road where it might not make financial sense to hang on to it from a business perspective in the future.
Notre Dame's football program cherishes its independence, and that's fine. But it shouldn't hang on too tight, otherwise it may be left out in the cold.
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