SEC and Big -12 Bowl with Many Storylines

Two of the top four conferences in college football announced an agreement Friday to pair up in a post-season Bowl game which will start following the 2014 regular season. The SEC and Big-12 made huge news with the announcement and there are so many things to wrap around this move that we won't cover it all here. Some make total sense, and some leave questions behind.

The official release calls for a five year agreement between the two conferences starting after the 2014 season which would mean the first game appearing some time in January of 2015. The conference champions of the two would play unless teams from one or both conferences were selected for the new four-team playoff format that will start. The release says if that does occur, "another deserving team from the conference(s) would be selected for the game".

The conference commissioners of both leagues chimed in on the new deal.

"A new January bowl tradition is born," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "This new game will provide a great match-up between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting post-season atmosphere created by the new four-team playoff. Most importantly, it will provide our student-athletes, coaches and fans with an outstanding bowl experience."

"Our goal is to provide the fans across the country with a New Year's Day prime-time tradition," commented acting Big 12 Conference Commissioner Chuck Neinas. "This is a landmark agreement between two of the most successful football conferences during the BCS era to stage a post-season event. The creation of this game featuring the champions of the Big 12 and SEC will have tremendous resonance in college football."

"I am very excited by the prospects for a game between our champion and the champion of the Southeastern Conference," added in-coming Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

During the 14-year history of the Bowl Championship Series both conferences had 11 seasons in which each conference has had at least one team ranked in the top four of the final BCS standings and both share the top spot all-time with 14 teams each that have finished in the top four of the final BCS Standings.

So, the likelihood of the two conference champions squaring off in the game any time soon isn't that great. With the four-team playoff scheduled, one or both of the leagues are likely to have a representative if not two participate in the playoff.

The SEC has nine appearances in the 14 BCS National Championship Game while the Big-12 has had seven, The conferences rank first and second in that category as well.

With all of that known, let's look at some of the story lines coming from this…

The SEC is bailing out the Big-12

The Big-12 has lost four of their top programs in the last two years. Colorado left for the Pac-12 and Nebraska for the Big-10 and have already played a year outside of the conference in their new conferences. Texas A&M and Missouri are both headed to the SEC starting July 1, 2012. A year ago today the conference was a jumbled mess, fired their commissioner, and was on life support with other programs looking to go elsewhere.

The conference did make some moves to help themselves. They brought in TCU and West Virginia, two strong programs. West Virginia is a geographic reach however and a crazy fit because of that.

There has been talk of adding other programs like Florida State. Another geographical stretch perhaps, but FSU has strong teams in the big three sports and other quality teams inside their athletic program that would make them attractive. Clemson is also another program searching the same solutions through the Big-12, we would have most of the same responses about that move as FSU.

This connection with the SEC may make it even more likely for FSU and Clemson to make that jump. It gives the Big-12 a great bit of credibility that it hasn't had since they started losing programs two years ago. It also aligns them with the strongest conference in the country.

Just a year ago, the SEC was raiding the Big-12 for two of its programs. The two conferences were mortal enemies and now the two can come together with this agreement. It would appear the SEC did the Big-12 a huge favor, but what is in it for the SEC?

Stick a fork in the ACC

The one conference that goes head to head with the SEC in TV dollars more than any is the ACC. The two conferences have teams in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and the fans are somewhat split throughout those states. This move is likely going to force a shakeup of the ACC, but more importantly it helps push the Big-12 back to a status about the east coast bridesmaids.

The ACC added Pittsburgh and Syracuse to join them in the near future, two moves that will add huge TV markets, but also gets away from their southern roots. The move if everything remained as it was could have pushed the ACC ahead of the Big-12.

That is no more.

Even if they hold on to all of their member programs, the instant credibility of teaming with the SEC will push the Big-12 back ahead of the ACC in the tier system that is the NCAA and all of a sudden the ACC is fifth again… and with a four team playoff. Do you see where this is going?

If a Clemson or a Florida State or a Miami jump ship, this isn't even a question. And this is why a move like this bowl game was a good one for the SEC. Less that the ACC was a threat, more that it was a nuisance.

When will it ever happen?

The funny thing is that 9 out of 10 times this game will not ever happen as it is laid out on paper. The game is supposed to match the SEC Champion and the Big-12 champion. Both will usually have teams in the four-team layoff. Almost always one of them will.

I don't think this was outlined with the announcement, but if a conference has two teams in the field, like the SEC had two play for the title this year, does that mean the third place team plays in the new Bowl game? The SEC's third place team matched against the Big 12's first, that seems about even to me.


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