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The playoffs, the ACC and Pitt | June


It's the offseason and we're all bored. The from the buzzer in New Orleans until kickoff August 30 in Nashville, it's a long, long offseason in NCAA major revenue sports. And that boredom can - and often does - lead to blowing up small stories into big stories, or taking actual big stories and blowing them up even bigger than they should be. There've been two interconnected "big stories" this spring: conference realignment and a college football playoff. Those are legitimate big stories - but that doesn't excuse rumor-mongoring based off of message boards and anonymous twitter accounts.

There's a third story "big story" that's dominated the coverage lately, and it's of the "bored summer" variety - the notion that somehow the SEC and Big 12 creating a bowl game squeezes out the ACC. I have no idea why this has gotten the coverage it has. The most widely held belief seems to be that somehow this "Champions Bowl" as it's being called now will be some sort of national semi-final. Let's be clear: There is absolutely no way that could happen. The BCS went out of its way to include non-AQs like Utah, Boise and TCU and still was on its way to being labelled anti-competitive by the Justice Department. A postseason exclusive to the B1G/Pac12/Big12/SEC is so blatantly a violation of the rules of the road that no one is even suggesting it except bad sportswriters.

That's what the SEC/Big12 bowl isn't. Here's what it is: It's a fallback in case one or both of the conferences' champions fail to reach the four team playoffs. So if a highly ranked, conference champion Oklahoma loses late and doesn't make the playoffs, it has a great game to fall on, against say, an SEC runner-up Georgia. It's an insurance policy. A good one that will make each conference some extra cash, but that's it. Its creation in no way excludes the ACC. Jumping to the conclusion that so many apparently have is Underpants Gnome Logic.

If the ACC champion is good enough, it will be in the playoff. Just like the Pac12, Big12, B1G, or SEC.


But what that playoff will look like, no one knows. Today Eleven conference commissioners (plus Notre Dame, of course) are meeting in Chicago to discuss just that. The hope is that they'll have a recommendation for the university presidents - who actually have the power here - for a June 26 meeting. ACC Commissioner John Swofford thinks they'll be able to reach a consensus, with the reportedly preference being the semi-finals rotating among current BCS Bowl games and the championship bid out to whatever city wants to pay the most.

Of course, whatever system is picked, money will be the overarching issue to be decided. The six major BCS conferences get nearly 10 times the payout of the non-AQs and it seems as if that disparity is likely to continue (via CBS Sports):

But with the AQ and non-AQ distinction going away in 2014, all leagues -- at least in theory -- will all be equal. They obviously won't receive equal payouts, though.

While that's a certainty, there are still several unknowns with the revenue distribution. One unknown isn't whether the Big East will get an equal share as the other AQ conferences -- the Big East won't -- but rather will the Big East get the same share of the other former non-AQ conferences, or somewhere in the middle between the former-AQ and non-AQ leagues?

"It's possible the 'Big Five' get treated in one manner, the Big East in another manner, and the remaining conferences in another manner," a commissioner said.

Another possibility is the commissioners will recommend some sort of floating "units" that conferences or schools would earn, similar to the NCAA men's basketball tournament based on top-25 finishes. The commissioners also are considering awarding each school the same minimum amount (as opposed to the conferences the same amount), which would slightly benefit the conferences with more members.

It should be evident now more than ever that the move to the ACC was absolutely the correct move to make, regardless of the short-term cost either in dollars or in perception. As the link explains, of the two most likely payout ranking models, the ACC is either third or fourth if the models begin with 1998. The Big East is a very, very distant sixth in both models and that will likely be reflected in payouts. Even if the the ACC's television contract is a bit subpar to the other four conferences, the BCS payouts should help dull any discrepancy.

(Interestingly, with the ACC gaining 15 points for Pitt's 2009 season, Pitt would contribute to the ACC's payout as much as Miami (11) and Florida State (4) combined if we're using 2007 as a start date. Just sayin'.)

As for the BCS, the bowls will still exist. There's just too much money at stake for too many different entities. I'm ok with that. I've never gotten the outrage about there being too many bowls - like there's so much prestige behind the Beef O Brady's Bowl to begin with. It's my last gasp of football before a long, long offseason. And if that means watching Florida International vs. Marshall on a weeknight, so be it. But the name BCS seems to be on its way out (via CBS Sports):

One source indicated that the old name couldn't be attached to a playoff that will “eventually” be bigger than the Final Four and second only to the Super Bowl in terms of this nation's sporting events. The term “BCS” simply had too much of a negative connotation. The commissioners couldn't afford for the controversies attached to the “Bowl Championship Series” to accompany major college football's first playoff.

Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer is largely credited for organizing the BCS in 1998. Since then, it has seemingly had as much criticism as praise. Adding to the frustration is that there was no single person or committee who seemed to be in charge until the commissioners renewed TV contracts every couple of years.

“There really is no entity,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told CBSSports.com earlier this year. “There is no BCS. There is a mark [logo]. There is a series of contracts. That's all it is.”

Funny, I always pictured the BCS being run by The Claw from Inspector Gadget.