Next year's college football postseason has been shrouded in confusion. The world is happy to get its long-awaited playoff, but beyond that, it's been unclear how the rest of bowl season would operate.
That picture began sharpening into focus on Tuesday, as the SEC closed in on finalizing deals with seven non-playoff bowls. Per ESPN.com:
The SEC is finalizing deals with its seven top non-College Football Playoff bowls that would run six years starting in 2014, sources said Tuesday.
After SEC teams are selected for the College Football Playoff semifinals, the next highest ranked SEC team advances to the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The Sugar Bowl is a good get for the conference, and putting an SEC team there annually could create a tradition like that of the Big Ten and Pac-12 with the Rose Bowl. Per the report, the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame would also face the ACC in the Orange Bowl—but only in years where it doesn't serve as a national semifinal.
Past those traditionally BCS games, the SEC is close to deals with a number of other bowls. Most notably, the conference will keep the Capital One Bowl against the Big Ten, which has annually been a highlight of the New Year's Day slate. Only now, if a Big Ten team makes the playoff, an ACC team will replace it in Orlando.
The rest of the SEC's bowl tie-ins look like this:
- Belk Bowl (vs. ACC)
- Gator Bowl (vs. ACC/Big Ten)
- Liberty Bowl (vs. Big 12)
- Music City Bowl (vs. ACC/Big Ten)
- Outback Bowl (vs. Big Ten)
- Texas Bowl (Big 12)
Per the ESPN report, the SEC's deal with the Liberty Bowl would be the most contentious. The newly formed AAC had hoped to secure it as a destination for its conference champion, especially now that Memphis (the site of the Liberty Bowl) is a member of the league.
But fair or not, most people would rather watch a Big 12-SEC matchup than a Big 12-AAC one—even if it is with the latter's conference champion.
The report also states that the "new bowl affiliations guarantee the SEC will exclusively play other 'power five' conferences in at least its top eight or nine bowls." That's a pretty good deal, ensuring that the SEC will continue its run as the must-see conference each postseason.
Not that they wouldn't have been anyway.