How Will a College Football Playoff Affect SEC Bowl Tie-Ins?
The times they are a-changin'.
After the 2014 season, college football will shed its old-school label and enter a new age that includes a four-team playoff and six-bowl semifinal rotation. That means big changes for the landscape of college football, and those changes will create a trickle-down effect with bowl tie-ins throughout the country.
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the AT&T Cotton Bowl will join the semifinal rotation, meaning that their traditional bowl tie-ins will disappear in favor of either semifinal matchups or teams that qualify for the event.
That leaves the SEC looking for new partners.
According to CBSSports.com, the conference has met with the Belk and Meineke Car Care Bowls about joining the the Music City, Gator and Outback in a five-bowl group that would be willing to let the SEC place teams in each game based on conference standings and matchups. The Capital One Bowl, which has traditionally attracted the best non-BCS team, would continue to have a stand-alone deal..
The Belk Bowl in Charlotte would look to match SEC and ACC teams in place of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston, which has traditionally been a Big 12 vs. Big Ten matchup, would look to match SEC and Big 12 teams in place of the Cotton Bowl.
It makes sense that the SEC would explore replacing the Cotton and Chick-fil-A with bowls in its region from a recruiting and interest perspective. But if we're going to mix things up a bit, let's diversify.
How about some SEC vs. Pac-12 matchups?
The two conferences don't have a bowl tie-in and have met each other once in the postseason since 1989. That came in Auburn's 22-19 win over Oregon in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game following the 2010 season.
That's not often enough.
If that means creating a partnership with a new bowl on the West Coast, do it. How awesome would an SEC vs. Pac-12 matchup be in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego? Or in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas?
Would you welcome a Pac-12 vs. SEC bowl matchup somewhere on the west coast?
Let's go for full bowl upheaval here. Mix up the tie-ins across the board.
Better yet, create a college football version of term limits.
If a conference goes five years with the same bowl tie-in, require it to take a year off. That doesn't make sense on the surface from a business standpoint for the bowls, but take their option out of it. The NCAA doesn't control the bowl games themselves, but those games need the NCAA's approval before they can take place. So the NCAA has plenty of leverage to make this happen.
Sound like a pipe dream? It probably is, but it would be a lot of fun—especially in an era in which the NCAA is looking to maintain relevance in an evolving landscape.
That most SEC bowl games against Big Ten teams are played in Southern states is a constant point of criticism, so change it. Play at Yankee Stadium in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. What's the harm?
Conference perception may change a little bit if the SEC would lose, but the results of bigger bowl games make much more of an impact from a perception standpoint.
The lower-tier bowl games are the college football version of the NIT in college hoops, so make those games compelling. The SEC's attempt to prevent bowl matchups from becoming stale is a good start, but adding the Belk Bowl in Charlotte and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston is only a temporary fix to an ongoing problem.
It will only be a matter of time before that will get stale, too.
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