2012 college football predictions
Remember, it was in 2008 -- two years before the start of the current BCS contract -- that SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford attempted to sell their colleagues on a four-team tourney. The Big Ten, Big East, Big 12 and Pac-10 shot it down that year, and now all those leagues find themselves beneath the SEC's boot on the field. It will be interesting to see if the presidents go against their athletic directors or simply rubber-stamp the playoff. Remember, most of the arguments against a playoff are nonsense. Player safety? The presidents didn't care about that when they passed the 12th regular-season game for every team in a shameless money grab. Professionalizing the sport? The presidents don't worry about that when their softball and volleyball teams play in tournaments at the end of the season.
That's fine with the most powerful leagues for a number of reasons. The Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 don't want any restrictions on how many teams they can put into top bowls, so this is the rare case in which the heavyweights and the lightweights agree. Also, dropping the AQ designation and stripping the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls of the ability to negotiate as a bloc -- or maybe "cartel" is your preferred term -- would eliminate the strongest aspect of any antitrust case against the BCS. All that mess about the national title was meaningless, but a charge of price-fixing by those four bowls could stick. With the bowls negotiating their TV and conference deals separately, there is no antitrust concern. This also would allow other bowls to offer more to jump in the hierarchy. Don't be surprised if the Cotton Bowl bids aggressively for the Big 12 champ.
Hopefully, this will produce better deals for the schools, which get scammed by the bowls thanks to ticket guarantees and required hotel stays. If bowl directors are smart, they'll put together the most attractive packages they can. A cadre of younger, business-minded athletic directors and conference leaders has figured out that schools could make a lot more money if the conferences staged postseason exhibition games themselves, and they have no qualms about cutting out the middlemen in the ugly blazers.