The SEC has continued to sharpen its plan for postseason football in 2014 and beyond, guaranteeing bowl spots for 10 of its 14 teams—at absolute minimum!—once the College Football Playoff system comes into effect.
According to the SEC Digital Network:
The Southeastern Conference announced today agreements with nine postseason bowls and a new process for the assignment of SEC member schools to bowl games, beginning with the 2014 season and extending for six years.
The new SEC bowl process coincides with the beginning of the new College Football Playoff that follows the 2014 college football season. The SEC will also participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Discover Orange Bowl (in selected years).
So, according to this report, the SEC could place two teams in the playoff, one in the Sugar Bowl and one in the Orange Bowl (provided it does not host a national semifinal that year). And even then they would still have nine guaranteed spots in other bowl games.
Which would mean, in a hypothetical year, the SEC might send 13 of its 14 teams to the postseason.
That's a ridiculous number and it would only come about in those specific circumstances. But that it's even possible says all you need to know about conference inequality. The guys who run each bowl like money, and SEC teams bring in the most of it. Ipso facto, the guys who run each bowl want SEC teams.
The lowest number of bowl teams the SEC could have is 10, and that would only happen if (a) no SEC team made the semis and (b) the Orange Bowl was one of the semis that year. So, realistically, in most average seasons, the conference will have 11 or 12 teams go bowling.
Here are the other nine bowls that have guaranteed SEC commitments:
- Capital One (Big Ten/ACC)
- Belk (ACC)
- Gator (Big Ten/ACC)
- Music City (Big Ten/ACC)
- Liberty (Big 12)
- Outback (Big Ten)
- Texas (Big 12)
- AdvoCare V100 (ACC)
- BBVA Compass* (AAC)
Starting after the Orange Bowl, provided a Big Ten team doesn't itself make the Orange Bowl, the next-highest SEC team would play a Big Ten foe in the Capital One Bowl. If a Big Ten team does play the SEC in the Orange Bowl, an ACC team will take its spot in the Capital One.
Beyond that, the next six bowls (excluding the AdvoCare V100 and BBVA Compass) will be pooled together for the next six SEC selections. Then the AdvoCare V100 and BBVA Compass bowls will take the league's two highest remaining teams.
*The BBVA Compass Bowl will be renamed after 2014. ESPN is the in the process of finding a new sponsor.