Why College Football's New Playoff Is a Great Play for the Sport's Powerbrokers
Fans were head over heels for the news they got this summer. The BCS would go away, they would be given a playoff; the whole world could rejoice. Hallelujah! The college football world was saved from the clutches of the BCS. Fans were getting what they had complained about. The big wigs were finally listening. All of the Death to the BCS work had paid off!
And so many of you all fell for the okie doke. It's cute. It really has been fun to watch. As college football has restructured itself for the future, thanks to incessant complaining of fans, and their false belief that any of this was about them, the sport has galvanized itself in a way that the BCS could only dream.
The sport's powerbrokers, the big men in charge, are sitting at a table with more money than ever before, and they have figured out a way to do it while morons watched, cheering their efforts. Yes, the playoff push played out publicly—"played" is of course the operative word. You all got played.
You thought it was about fair and access and they threw concepts that mattered out for you to feast on. All the while they were constructing a system that would help the haves put more distance between themselves and the have-nots.
Folks, the Big East came out a winner in this deal. The league is set to get a new television deal, and while you read "not a major conference" what is really happening, thanks to Mike Aresco, is the Big East has become the only "non-major conference" that matters. As Andrea Adelson at ESPN's Big East Blog points out, the Big East will be in the major bowl more often than not in the new structure. That's cash money for the league.
It's cash money that the other conferences—MWC, MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt—won't have. Cash money, through the host bowls, that will allow the Big East to remain viable.
The ACC can chalk a W up on the board. They survived the Big 12 expansion talk and came out with a new Orange Bowl deal, as CBS Sports reports, that will help cash them out and put them on a big stage.
Yes, the $55 million tag is less than the two other contract bowls, but thanks to the matchup agreement with the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame, the conference will be in prime position to renegotiate as the deal expires.
We'll deal with the Big Ten and SEC later, because the other two power conferences, the Pac-12 and the Big 12, have some winning to do. Both leagues are sitting on half of the $80 million payout from their respective contract bowls. That's right: $40 million a year for the Rose and the Sugar respectively for each league. If you're counting, that's more than getting two teams into the current BCS Bowls.
Which brings us to the real winners. The kings of college football. Mike Slive and Jim Delany. The two guys who were seemingly at odds for the entire negotiation, both join hands and walk away winners, laughing at the people who cheered for this next step.
Both the SEC and Big Ten have their own contract bowls that will pay them the other half of the $80 million. That's $40 million apiece for the conferences who were already rolling in dough.
Today, as The ACC's Orange Bowl release let us know, the SEC and Big Ten will be sending another team to a major contract bowl. Sharing space with Notre Dame, who only can go twice in 12 years, the two baddest conferences at the marketing table just found their way into another big payout.
Will the four-team playoff be better or worse for college football?
For years an SEC team plays in Miami against the ACC champion, that's an additional $27.5 million to go with their $40 million. When the Big Ten is the Orange Bowl, they get to add that $27.5 million to their $40 million Rose Bowl share.
Yes, there will be years where the Big Ten or the SEC take home $67.5 million from just contract bowls.
Keep in mind that doesn't include the "host" or "access" bowls that the selection committee can point highly-ranked SEC and Big Ten teams into, thanks to no two-team limits. It also does not include the one, or two, teams from that league that qualify for the actual semifinals. Nor does it include the rest of the bowls that are grabbing for the always popular Big Ten and SEC squads.
This new system isn't likely going to help fans, but it damn sure is going to help the powerbrokers. There will be swollen pockets abound and, most importantly for the brokers, the gap between the haves and have nots can grow. Hopefully, with the new money coming in, schools will at least see fit to push that stipend for student-athletes across the board, right?
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