Posts Tagged ‘unseeded plus-one’

A few years ago in writing one of my myriad college football postseason proposals, I noted that while the general public supported a college football playoff as an abstract concept, the problem was that no one could agree upon what the playoff should look like.  With the countless proposals that I’ve seen in the comments to this blog and online elsewhere (along with fierce debates as to what would be best), that has certainly proven to be the case.

However, as the powers that be of the college football world gather around at the BCS meetings in Hollywood, Florida starting Wednesday to discuss a college football playoff, it seems that the top people following the business of college sports (Teddy Greenstein from the Chicago Tribune, Brett McMurphy from CBS Sports, Pete Thamel from the New York Times, Ralph Russo of the Associated Press and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com) have come to a general belief that there will be a 4-team playoff with the semifinals hosted at neutral sites (which could be either current bowls or bid out to other venues).  The most progressive proposal of having semifinal games being played at on-campus sites from the Big Ten and Jim Delany (who also proposed the supposedly reactionary proposal of the 4 Teams Plus format that would have sent the Big Ten and Pac-12 champs to the Rose Bowl no matter what) seems to be dead.  A proposal that only conference champs would be included in the playoff also seems to be on life support.  Instead, we’ll likely see some type of format that will take the 3 highest ranked conference champions and then the next highest ranked team as a wild card (who could be a conference champ, non-champ or independent).

Now, pretty much all of the reporters and their BCS sources caveat their statements that different proposals are still in play, whether it’s the unseeded plus-one (where the bowls are played with traditional tie-ins and then the national championship matchup is decided thereafter) or the 4 Teams Plus.  As Brett McMurphy noted, the unseeded plus one would actually be the format that would cause the least amount of consternation for the commissioners themselves, yet the public has been conditioned so heavily with the expectation that there will be a 4-team playoff that anything less than that is going to receive massive blowback.  In previous years, the commissioners might not have cared, but the atmosphere is such that they want to get a system into place that will have enough public support that discussions about the postseason format can legitimately be avoided for the next decade plus.

The critical question for me (and likely for the powers that be) continues to be revenue… or more importantly, how the college football playoff revenue is split.  As I’ve stated several times before, the fact that a playoff system might garner two or three times as much TV money as the current BCS system is meaningless unless we have an understanding as to how such revenue is distributed.   Let’s put it this way: the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, ACC and Notre Dame aren’t giving up the 90/10 split in postseason revenue that they have today in order for the non-power conferences to receive all of the financial upside of a playoff.  The challenge is finding a system that provides guaranteed income advantages to the power conferences that makes contractual sense and without sounding off blatant antitrust alarm bells (even if the legal reality is the chances of the power conferences losing an antitrust case are remote).

I place the emphasis on guaranteed income because university presidents, even ones in conferences that have had a lot of on-the-field success such as the SEC, would rather guarantee themselves a baseline level of income in down years as opposed to shooting the moon in years where they win the national championship.  As a result, don’t expect there to be super financial rewards (if any) for conferences that make the playoff compared to what a league would receive would receive for making the Rose Bowl or other BCS (or whatever the equivalent will be) bowls.  Highly variable pay based upon on-the-field performance of individual teams (or whether the placekicker hits a field goal in overtime) simply isn’t how university presidents roll, folks.

That issue of how to split revenue is why I don’t believe we can completely take an unseeded plus-one or a variant of the 4 Team Plus format off the table, even if neither would make much of the general public very happy.  For instance, think of a scenario where the 4 Team Plus format was altered where it wasn’t just the Big Ten and Pac-12 that were guaranteed Rose Bowl access.  On top of the Rose Bowl, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 champs could have “contractual tie-in” spots (since auto-qualifier status is technically being eliminated) in the other quasi-semifinals (let’s say that they’re rotated among the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Cotton Bowls) along with a wild card that is the next highest ranked team other than those champs.  Would SEC commissioner Mike Slive still have the same negative reaction in that scenario?  How about the ACC and Big 12?  I don’t think this scenario would end up happening, but also don’t believe it’s that crazy if you’re thinking like the commissioner of one of the power conferences.

To be clear and reiterate what I’ve said previously, what I’d personally like to see is the “BCS Final Four” proposal that I wrote about nearly a year and a half ago, which is pretty similar to the 4-team playoff with neutral semifinal sites proposal on the table.  The main difference that I proposed then was that the semifinals would be rotated among the BCS bowl venues but would be separate from the BCS bowls themselves.  The semifinal sites in any given year would then get preferences to host the conferences that they have contractual tie-ins with if they are in the top 4.  So, in the years where Pasadena is a semifinal site, the Rose Bowl (the venue, NOT the game itself) would get assigned a semifinal matchup with a Big Ten and/or Pac-12 team if applicable.  We could even make Pasadena a permanent semifinal site where it could host both a semifinal and the Rose Bowl annually.  This as a way to at least throw something towards the Big Ten/Pac-12/Rose Bowl triumverate that preserves their relationship but doesn’t take away a permanent Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup in the Rose Bowl (the game) itself while still allowing top 4 Big Ten and Pac-12 teams regular trips to Pasadena for semifinal games.

As someone whose high school and college years spanned the Clinton era in the 1990s, I have fantastic memories of listening to Tupac Shakur and watching the old traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 Rose Bowl when it was the biggest college football game of the year, but I can understand if many people don’t want either of them to come back onstage in 2012.  I have a melancholy feeling about all of this since I’ve pushed for a playoff for such a long time on this blog, yet I also don’t want to see the Rose Bowl unalterably become a consolation game.  It’s the price of progress in college football.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

(Image from Freshness)

Out of all of the quotes that came out of the Bowl Championship Series meetings held yesterday, none drew more attention than those from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. A month ago, Delany seemed to be taking a defiant stand against any type of expansion of the college football postseason, including a plus-one. At the BCS meetings, though, he indicated a much more open mind toward discussing changes to the current system:

“It was far more open,” the Big Ten’s commissioner, Jim Delany, said. “Four years ago there were five guys who didn’t want to have the discussion. Everyone here fully participated in it.”

Delany had been one of the commissioners who did not even want to discuss a playoff then, but he described himself as “interested, curious and fully participating” Tuesday. He said he would meet in January with the presidents and athletic directors of the universities in his conference to discuss the possibilities for college football’s postseason.

“The environment has changed in the sense that we had five people who didn’t want to talk about it, of the seven founders,” Delany said. “And I think the seven founders were the conferences plus Notre Dame, and four years ago five of us didn’t want to have the conversation. Now people want to have the conversation. I don’t know where our institutions will be on any of this, but I think that in good faith we have to engage and be curious and be open and see where we go.”

This is massive news. Even though this is at only a discussion stage and it’s been indicated that no two conferences are “in the same place” regarding what they want in a new system, the fact that Delany did not immediately shoot down the concept of a plus-one (unlike what had occurred when a seeded plus-one was proposed by the SEC and ACC in 2008) is a significant step toward change. That likely means that Delany received some direction from the Big Ten presidents (who, just like in conference realignment, are the only people that matter as opposed to athletic directors and coaches) to at least listen to what the market is offering as opposed to taking an ironclad stand. Considering that the Big Ten is the largest single power player that needs to be moved on the plus-one format just as a general concept (much less the details), there’s a much greater chance that the BCS system (to the extent that there is even the term “BCS” anymore) will look significantly different when it’s presented to ESPN later this year for a possible TV contract extension that will start in the 2013 season.

As a reminder, there are a couple of things to remember as you read articles about possible changes to the BCS system over the coming months:

  • The term “plus-one” is NOT interchangeable with “4-team playoff” – Some mainstream media types (such as Pete Thamel of the New York Times) have been better at making this clear than others. Most pundits seem to automatically assume that a “plus-one” is the same thing as a 4-team playoff, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. As I’ve described before, a 4-team playoff is only one variant of a plus-one system. There is also an unseeded plus-one option along with different strains in between that could be called “semi-seeded”. The old adage that the “devil is in the details” couldn’t ring any truer than in this situation. There are going to a lot of different plus-one scenarios discussed and I’d wager that what we ultimately end up with won’t be the simple 4-team playoff that many are assuming is end game.
  • Removal of AQ status is NOT interchangeable with the removal of conference contractual tie-ins – The potential removal of the concept of automatic qualifying status is another issue that much of the mainstream media makes a large deal about but often doesn’t explain clearly. As I’ve explained previously, this is largely a matter of semantics for every current AQ conference except for the Big East. The concept of AQ status might go away, but rest assured that the Rose Bowl will still have contractual tie-ins with the Big Ten and Pac-12 no matter what happens and that will likely be the case with the Sugar Bowl and SEC, Orange Bowl and ACC, and Fiesta Bowl and Big 12. The Cotton Bowl might swoop in to get the top Big 12 tie-in, but the overarching point is that those five power conferences are going to continue to have de facto AQ status through their contractual tie-ins even if the actual term “AQ status” goes away. No one should be fooled into thinking that the BCS bowls are just going to take the top 8 or 10 teams in the BCS rankings if AQ status is removed. The entire reason why the Big Ten and SEC actually agree on the removal of AQ status is that the power conferences will actually end up with more top bowl bids based on brand names as opposed to strict merit.

So, what exactly are the key issues to overcome in order to actually make changes to the BCS system? Here are some further items to think about:

1. The Seven Founders – It’s telling that in Jim Delany’s quotes about the openness to discussing a plus-one, he specifically referenced the “Seven Founders” of the BCS system: the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big East and that massive coast-to-coast conference known as the University of Notre Dame. What it means is that any opposition to a particular proposal by the Big Ten (and potentially the Pac-12 and Notre Dame) shouldn’t be framed as being against the wishes of the 9 other FBS conferences. Instead, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Notre Dame represent 3 of the Seven Founders, which means that the SEC and ACC can’t just ram their old seeded plus-one proposal through. It also shows that the opinions of the non-AQ conferences literally don’t matter here. They might technically have a vote and can provide some input, but nothing is going to be changed unless it makes the Seven Founders happy.

2. Big East as a Swing Vote? – The fact that the Big East, at least for now, is still considered to be one of the Seven Founders (despite the fact that the only current Big East football member that was part of the league when the BCS system began in 1998 is Rutgers) could become a key point. It seems clear that the SEC and ACC support a seeded plus-one, with the Big 12 probably jumping aboard. On the other side, the Big Ten, Pac-12* and Notre Dame appear to be fairly aligned. With a potential 3-3 deadlock, where the Big East ends up could become the deciding factor to the system that ultimately gets put into place. From a pure Big East standpoint, this is a great thing since it can leverage that swing vote position (the Justice Kennedy of the BCS) to possibly preserve access to the top bowls that it might not otherwise receive if the all of the bowl selections went to an open market. For example, the new system might require each BCS bowl to have a contractual tie-in with one of the Seven Founders, which means that if a fifth BCS bowl is added (such as the Cotton Bowl), one of them will need to have a tie-in with the Big East. That Big East tie-in could be made much more palatable if it includes access to Notre Dame (i.e. a bowl can select the higher ranked of either Notre Dame or the Big East champ in any given year). Speaking of which, Notre Dame certainly has a self-interest in preserving the Big East, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Big East ends up in a voting bloc with the Irish, Big Ten and Pac-12 since the Domers are going to be more willing to offer the fledgling league protection than, say the ACC and Big 12 that just raided them. To be sure, the Big East isn’t anywhere near out of the woods yet (as the prospect of the Big 12 raiding it again for Louisville and Rutgers is the one conference realignment move that I see is plausible over the next year), but at least it’s not completely all doom and gloom.

(* Many in the media believe that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is willing to break with tradition with his aggressive nature, but he hasn’t really said anything different compared to Jim Delany up to this point regarding the plus-one. If anything, preserving the value of the Rose Bowl is even more important to the Pac-12 than the Big Ten. All of the major bowls across the country would love to have contractual tie-ins with the Big Ten, as evidenced by the fact that the conference has received more at-large BCS bowl bids than any other conference, including the vaunted SEC. For the Pac-12, though, the specific Rose Bowl tie-in is really the only leg up that it has over the ACC in its overall bowl lineup. The Big Ten can draw bowl interest from literally every region of the country in a manner that the Pac-12 will never be able to do.)

3. The Divergent Interests of University Presidents, Bowls and ESPN – Many college football playoff proposals often start with, “This is so simple. WHY CAN’T THEY DO THIS?” The issue, of course, is that it’s not simple at all with all of the entrenched interests involve that are often at odds with each other.

For example, ESPN has said that it’s on board with having the title game closer to New Year’s Day. That certainly makes sense in order to counter “bowl fatigue” being experience by TV viewers, but it also means that would make it virtually impossible to have the bowls host semifinals in a seeded plus-one or to create a #1 vs. #2 matchup after the bowls are played in an unseeded plus-one. Having schools host games on their home fields in December could alleviate that, but that also means shutting the bowls out of that first round process and whether you like it or not, that’s NOT happening. Even Dan Wetzel, who has made a career out of demonizing the bowl system with his book “Death to the BCS”, acknowledges that a plus-one system will need to incorporate the bowls in some manner because of their power. People can keep wishing that weren’t the case, but it is what it is.

The notion that the top bowls could be played in mid-December or even around Christmas is also something that won’t work practically. As anyone in the travel industry will tell you, the 2 weeks in December leading up to Christmas is the slowest travel period of the year, which is logical since few people want to take days off right before the holidays. That’s why the top bowls avoid dates in prior to and bracketing Christmas like the plague. The lower level bowls only agree to those earlier dates because that’s the only way that they can receive TV coverage.

At the same time, TV executives have access to larger potential audiences after January 1st (which is why TV networks air mostly reruns throughout the entire month of December) and on weeknights, while the bowls are best served by dates between Christmas and New Years Day when more people have time off. Neither the TV networks nor the bowls want to compete with NFL playoff games that are on the weekends at the beginning of the year, either, so those midweek January games (even if the TV networks and bowls are sincere in wanting to get rid of them) are tough to move.

University presidents will throw out some arguments such as having too long of a season or that they want to prevent football from becoming a two-semester sport. Even if they are sincere about that (and it’s hard for me to take them seriously when the other revenue sport of basketball has practices that start in October and the NCAA Tournament ends in April), it directly conflicts with their own desire to work with the bowls and TV networks that effectively push the most desirable games into January.

Lest we forget, there are also fans! (Who the heck thinks about them?) It’s asking a lot of even hardcore football fans to travel to one bowl game, particularly in this economy. Asking them to travel to two neutral site games is stretching it very thin, while having them travel to even more neutral site games in an 8-team playoff scenario (which won’t be happening in practicality, but it will still get proposed) is virtually impossible. This could be solved by having earlier games played at teams’ home fields, yet we run into the problem that the bowls must be included.

When push comes to shove, I believe a plus-one national championship game will be played in mid-January, with possibly Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a regular date for the game since that’s a holiday weekend for a fair number of people on a Monday that falls about 2 weeks after the bowls are completed. The timing generally works as a week turnaround from the last bowl game to the national championship game is practically too short for the players and fans, so as much as people want to compress the length of the bowl season, it needs to be closer to a two-week gap. The concept of “bowl fatigue” is likely more of a function that none of the bowl games besides the national championship game and maybe the Rose Bowl have much meaning, which would change if a plus-one is instituted. (I’ve never heard of anyone getting “basketball fatigue” during the course of the 3-week NCAA Tournament. If people believe that the games matter, they will happily watch.)

Also, ticket sales to the national championship game are much less sensitive to dates and the ability for fans to travel compared to the bowls if only because there are so many more tickets allocated to corporate partners for that game (similar to the Super Bowl). No matter what date the national championship game is held, it’s going to sell out easily. In contrast, moving a bowl game from near New Year’s Day to prior to Christmas can be a killer from a ticket sale perspective. That’s a further argument that the plus-one championship game will end up later in January as opposed to close to New Year’s Day.

Finally, university presidents are in much less of a position to turn down revenue in a time of shrinking endowments and state budget cuts to public colleges compared to the last time a plus-one system was proposed in 2008. Some estimates out there show that the BCS TV contract could double from its current $125 million per year level to around $250 million per year if there’s a plus-one game. Note that this figure doesn’t even include the separate Rose Bowl TV contract. So, are university presidents going to be taking a principled stand against a further extension of the college football season when all that is happening is the addition of one game featuring two teams (out of 120 FBS schools) being played in mid-January and will add about $1 million to $2 million per year to each of their schools’ coffers without any effort whatsoever? The extra revenue from a plus-one game is so large with such little practical change to the current system (literally the addition of a single game) that it’s low hanging fruit which the university presidents likely can’t resist.

To be clear, the possible (if not probable) changes to the BCS system are NOT arising from the all-SEC national championship game this year. This is about the powers that be witnessing postseason bowl ticket sales and TV ratings trending down in the long-term, which translates into lost revenue. That wasn’t the case in 2008 when there were recent national championship games featuring all-“king” matchups, such as Texas-USC in 2005 and Ohio State-Florida in 2006, that saw boffo ratings numbers. (Meanwhile, regular season college football ticket sales and TV ratings are as strong as ever.) A plus-one game is a relatively non-disruptive way on paper to alleviate a lot of those concerns about the state of the college football postseason with pretty much an instant jolt in revenue, which is why it’s now getting a whole lot of traction today. The details of what that plus-one system will actually look like, though, will take much of this year to resolve.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

(Image from Birmingham News)

As we approach this year’s national championship game along with record low TV ratings for the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl, the conversation around college football regarding massive changes to the current BCS system continues to heat up.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who had presented a top 4 seeded plus-one proposal in 2008, has explicitly stated that he “does not think those changes are going to be tweaks.” Plugged-in Andy Staples from Sports Illustrated predicts that the conferences will agree upon a plus-one system and the elimination of automatic qualifying status for conferences this year.  We have recently discussed various plus-one proposals here and here, while Inside the Shoe attempts to project what bowl tie-ins would look like if and when AQ status is eliminated.  Some takeaways and predictions:

1. The Plus-One is Seriously Coming – Everything that I’ve seen and heard is that some type of plus-one system to determine the national champion is coming.  However, as I’ve stated previously, it can’t be assumed that it will come in the form of a top 4 playoff.  An unseeded plus-one where the BCS rankings are recalculated after the bowls to determine the national title game matchup or some type of semi-seeded format (such as the Halfway There Compromise) is certainly possible.  Maybe we’ll still end up with the top 4 playoff that is what most people think of when talking about a plus-one (in which case, I recommend the BCS Final Four format), but my feeling is that an unseeded format is what will be put into place as a compromise for the Big Ten and Rose Bowl.  Could the SEC and other conferences technically outvote the Big Ten on this issue?  Absolutely.  Will they choose to do so?  I have my reservations on that front.  We’re not talking about an objection from the WAC or MAC here that can be easily ignored.  The people in charge really want all of the current AQ conferences unanimously on board.  In my heart of hearts, I think Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is actually fine with a plus-one privately, but selling it to the Big Ten presidents is not an easy task, which is why he has the public position of opposing it entirely.  Getting a true Big Ten champ vs. Pac-12 champ Rose Bowl back (plus lots of TV money for that plus-one championship game) could be the hook to obtaining presidential consent.

2. Eliminating AQ Status is About Three BCS Bowl Bids for Each of the SEC and Big Ten – Whatever differences Slive and Delany might have regarding a plus-one, they are completely on the same page about eliminating AQ status.  Of course, it’s completely self-serving, as the SEC and Big Ten are the conferences seeking three BCS bowl bids each (or even guaranteed in a system where all of those bowls will have contractual tie-ins).  If you look at the bowl payouts in the marketplace, you already see that SEC #3 and Big Ten #3 carry more value than the #2 teams from the Pac-12, ACC and Big 12 (and even those are skewed since those bowls are really selecting SEC #4 and Big Ten #4 as those two leagues are already all but assured of receiving two BCS bowl bids annually in the current system).  You can also see it in the selections of the BCS bowls themselves, as they continuously pick SEC and Big Ten schools for at-large bids even if there are higher ranked teams available from other power conferences.  So, this isn’t just about the SEC and Big Ten guaranteeing themselves 2 BCS bowl bids since they already have that in today’s format.  Slive and Delany are looking for changes because they know that their leagues can get even more in either a market-oriented bowl system or removing the 2 BCS bowl bids per conference limit in a modified at-large selection process.

This is what the bowls want, too.  The Sugar Bowl and TV executives aren’t looking at the 12,000 empty seats and low ratings for the Michigan-Virginia Tech matchup and thinking, “Boy, we should have really invited Boise State instead.”  To the contrary, they’re thinking, “We need to change the system so that we could have taken #6 Arkansas as a third SEC team.  Arkansas vs. Michigan would have been gangbusters!”

3. More Bowl Tie-ins or Floaters… or a Horse of a Different Color? – It’s still an open question as to how those top bowls fill in what are currently at-large BCS spots.  The Inside the Shoe post linked above suggests different contractual tie-ins for those spots.  Some commenters here have suggested the concept of “floater” spots (i.e. a bowl can take a team from a pool of several leagues), although that begs the question of how much different that would be from the current at-large selection system.  From the bowl perspective, there seems to be a tension between avoiding the “undesirable” non-AQ and Big East teams that they have been forced to take under the current BCS system (which would suggest more contractual tie-ins with leagues like the SEC and Big Ten) and the desire to have some flexibility to take the best available teams (i.e. the second selection from the Big 12 isn’t that attractive if it’s Kansas State, but a bowl definitely wants a second selection from the Big 12 if it can take Texas or Oklahoma).

There also has to be an eye toward avoiding antitrust issues.  I have long believed that an antitrust case against the current BCS system would ultimately be a loser partially because it allows for non-AQ conference access that would never have come to fruition otherwise.  Therefore, even if there was collusion between the BCS bowls and AQ conferences, the non-AQ conferences wouldn’t be able to show any damages since eliminating the BCS system would actually take away revenue and access from them.  Think of it as a college football version of the famous USFL antitrust lawsuit against the NFL: the USFL technically won the lawsuit by showing that the NFL was an illegal monopoly, but was only awarded $1 in damages (which is trebled for a Sherman Act violation, so it actually received $3).  Eliminating the BCS system overall but then having the top bowls fill in at-large sports with “floater” teams that practically shut off access to non-AQ schools, though, is much more problematic from an antitrust perspective.  The concept of floaters would almost certainly require some level of collusion between the bowls which, in this case, would truly be to the detriment of those non-AQ schools.

One way to circumvent antitrust issues while providing the BCS bowls with more at-large selection flexibility is to expand the merit-based quotient slightly.  For instance, there could be 5 BCS bowls (assuming that the Cotton Bowl is added as the fifth game) for a total of 10 bids just as today.  5 of those bids would go to the 5 power conferences with contractual tie-ins.  There could then be a provision that all schools in the top 5 of the BCS rankings would be guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl (a slight uptick from the top 4 protection now).  Maybe there would be 5 bids granted to current non-AQ conferences in one year and maybe there would be zero bids in the next year, but in either case, that type of merit-based allowance is likely what would allow that system to pass antitrust muster.  This ensures that if there’s an “undesirable” team that must be included, it’s at least going to be a top 5 school that would have a legit shot at the national title in an unseeded plus-one system and then the bowls can pick whoever else that they want otherwise.  A seeded plus-one, which would inherently grant auto-bids to the top 4 ranked schools, would also make things much easier for the BCS from a legal standpoint.

My gut feeling is that the modification to the current BCS system is ultimately more likely than a complete break-off between the national championship game and the bowls.  The top bowls themselves still want a BCS designation (as it distinguishes them from everyone else) and would likely value more flexibility in filling what are currently their at-large spots than having straight conference tie-ins.

4. Are Non-AQ Conferences Exchanging Bowl Access for More National Championship Game Revenue? – One interesting aspect of all of these proposed changes is that the non-AQ conferences seem to be willing to give up access to top bowl games that they would have never received in the pre-BCS days.  Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson is on the record that he would rather see AQ status eliminated across the board over even the MWC receiving AQ status for the next two seasons.  The main argument is that the AQ and non-AQ labels have artificially created a caste system between the two designations.  Now, that seems like a pretty weak position for giving up access to top tier bowl games.  Regardless of whether there are AQ or non-AQ statuses, everyone is going to recognize that there’s a clear delineation between the power conferences and the non-power conferences.  (We’ll get to where the Big East fits on that spectrum in a moment.)  As much as the power conferences control the college football postseason, it would still be unusual for the non-AQ leagues to give up access after fighting for it for so long unless they’re getting something in return.  What gives?

One plausible way that the non-AQs can get something out of a return to a more traditional bowl system is that they would give up major bowl access and revenue to the power conferences in exchange for equal shares of the revenue that is generated by the plus-one national championship game.  This actually makes some sense.  The bowls have always been designed to be extensions of their local tourism bureaus where selections are merit-influenced (as better teams generally have fans that are more likely to be motivated to travel and watch games) but not completely merit-based.  The top games want a combination of strong traveling fan bases, brand names and TV drawing power, which is why they gravitate to the power conferences.  Thus, if we define “fairness” as an adherence to free market principles (as opposed to redistribution of income or open access), it’s completely fair that the bowls pay more to the top leagues with the most popular teams.  In contrast, the national championship game explicitly does not have any conference tie-ins (although SEC fans surely argue that they ought to have one).  The national title game is something that should equitably be shared by all conferences because, at least on paper (if not in practice), every team has a chance to make that game based on pure merit.  Thus, it’s inequitable that a #1 SEC team ought to get paid more than a #2 Mountain West team for making that game (which is actually what would happen in today’s system).

At least in my mind, it would be consistent to allow for the power conferences to receive all of the revenue for the top bowls (which have a heavy popularity component), but all conferences ought to share the national championship game revenue equally.  Presumably, all parties involved would see hefty increases in revenue as a result of this allocation system and it property reflects their interests, where the non-AQ conferences can’t honestly claim equal status with the power conferences in terms of bowl desirability because that simply isn’t true, but ought to be able to claim equal status in terms of access to the national championship game that should be based purely on merit.  (Any arguments that a non-AQ school getting to national championship game is almost impossible are noted, but that’s a practical consideration as opposed to a structural/contractual/financial issue.  The “system” should eliminate the latter because that’s within its control.  However, there’s only so much that can be done once it’s put into practice.  This even applies to more “open access” systems such as the NCAA Tournament or FCS playoffs, where power conferences and programs have still emerged.)

5. Big East: The One That Wants the Status Quo – By most accounts, 10 of the 11 FBS conferences want to eliminate AQ status.  The one holdout, not surprisingly, is the Big East.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, “eliminating AQ status” is really a matter of semantics for the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Big 12 and ACC because they all would still retain their contractual tie-ins with the BCS bowls.  Whether or not there’s a delineation between AQ and non-AQ leagues, nothing will really change for the champions of those 5 power conferences.  In contrast, AQ status means everything to the Big East since it doesn’t have any contractual tie-ins with the top bowls and likely couldn’t get them on its own.  To have a chance at a tie-in with one of those top bowls, the Big East would probably have to make a deal with the devil and offer liberal access to Notre Dame, such as allowing a bowl to take the Irish if they are ranked higher than the Big East champion in a given year.  Even then, that might not be enough.  Considering that the Big East created a new coast-to-coast league including Boise State and San Diego State with an explicit eye toward ensuring that the league would meet any BCS AQ numerical criteria, all of that effort may have been in vain.  Of course, the new Big East will still be better off for TV purposes than if it had solely added more geographically-friendly (but less sexy) schools east of the Mississippi River, so it was an expansion that the league had to do in the wake of Syracuse and Pitt defecting to the ACC and West Virginia leaving for the Big 12.  It’s just that an automatic tie-in to a top bowl (and the revenue that comes with it) is no longer assured for the Big East.  In a college football world where there’s largely a clear line between the upper class elite and the lower class, the Big East is the one middle class conference.

Changes in college football have come in very small increments.  It’s easy to forget that there has only been national championship game for the past 13 years, with the Bowl Alliance and Bowl Coalition being precursors and a sole reliance on polls prior to them.  This might be the year where a giant step is made.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

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In my last post, I went over four proposals that the FBS commissioners were evaluating to add a plus-one national championship game to the BCS system.  What is apparent is that the firmest resistance to a plus-one is coming from the Big Ten (led by Jim Delany) and the Rose Bowl.*  When I wrote my “BCS Final Four” seeded plus-one proposal last year, I stated that “for any college football postseason proposal to have even a whiff of a chance of succeeding, forget about “fairness” and think like Jim Delany.”  It might be even more pointed this year where the Big Ten and Rose Bowl are specifically the biggest obstacles to getting a plus-one proposal passed.  In theory, the other conferences and BCS bowls could just roll over those two entities with a super-majority, but the reality is that while everyone technically has an equal vote, they don’t have equal voices… and Delany has the biggest voice of them all.  Even “Death to the BCS” author Dan Wetzel stated that with the plus-one debate coming down to Delany versus everyone, he would take “Delany as no worse than even money”.  It’s very unlikely that you’re going to see a plus-one system that doesn’t have the backing of the Big Ten regardless of the support of everyone else.

(* Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott appears to be much more open to a seeded plus-one system, although still not wanting to give up the Rose Bowl.)

As a result, the purpose of this post is to try to find a compromise that could at least be plausibly acceptable to the Big Ten and Rose Bowl in real life.  What I’m not trying to do is find a system that is “perfect”.**  Personally, out of all of the college football postseason proposals that I’ve written over the years (which includes an 8-team playoff using the bowls, an unseeded plus-one and a semi-seeded plus-one), my favorite is the BCS Final Four mentioned above that would likely be the most popular with the masses, as well.  However, my feeling is that we’re not going to see something that straightforward and simple if we get a plus-one at all.  Therefore, I acknowledge that the compromise proposed here isn’t a clean system, where it might look wonderful in some seasons and be controversial in other years.   The goal is to find a plus-one formula that I think Jim Delany would actually agree to while making the fans and TV networks happy the vast majority of the time.

(** I put this caveat in virtually every BCS proposal and still invariably get a comment to the effect of, “This idea SUX AZZ. We need a 16-team playoff with every conference getting an auto-bid or else it’s worthless.”  While I sympathize with the sentiment for massive change, it’s just not realistic and, therefore, not worth writing about in my view.)

One model that drew traction among Big Ten and Pac-12 athletic directors is to have the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange host #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3 semifinal games on a rotation while the Rose Bowl would “opt out” of the semis and keep a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup annually.  What’s unclear is whether the Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents along with the Rose Bowl are actually on board with this (as those are the real decision makers as opposed to the ADs).  Most observers seem to believe that the Rose Bowl keeping a Big Ten/Pac-12 game would be enough, but I take a narrower view of what is “acceptable” to the people in Pasadena.  While the Big Ten and Pac-12 tie-ins are certainly critical, there’s also a matter of the Rose having an elevated status compared to the other bowls.  It’s one thing if the Rose is the #2 college football game of the year after the national championship game, but my impression is that being only the #4 game of the year at best after the national title and the 2 bowls that are semifinal hosts isn’t what they’re bargaining for.

So, how do we create a plus-one that doesn’t systematically turn the Rose Bowl into a consolation prize behind the other BCS bowls?  As with the BCS Final Four, we should have a “less is more” approach:

THE HALFWAY THERE COMPROMISE

The main principles of this system:

(1) Traditional Rose Bowl – The Rose Bowl always takes the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions.

(2) Cotton Bowl is added as a 5th BCS bowl –  Under this system, the Cotton Bowl would share the Big 12 tie-in with the Fiesta Bowl (to be further explained in point #4).

(3) Quasi-Semifinals Using 4 Highest Ranked Auto-bid Recipients Outside of Rose Bowl Participants – 2 of the BCS bowls besides the Rose Bowl will hold games featuring the 4 highest ranked teams that received BCS auto-bids outside of the Big Ten and Pac-12 champs in a seeded format.  For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll call them “Quasi-Semifinals” and assume that the auto-bids are the same as today (6 AQ conference champs, top 4 teams in the BCS rankings, top ranked non-AQ conference champ provided that it’s in the top 12 and a top 8 Notre Dame team*).  In a season like this one where the Rose Bowl does not have any top 4 teams, there would actually be 2 true semifinal games with #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3 games.

(* AQ status may technically disappear, but as I’ve stated before, it will likely be a matter of semantics since the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Big 12 and ACC will continue to have virtual AQ status with their contractual bowl tie-ins. The Big East is really the only conference with a real risk of facing a major loss if the BCS system changes dramatically.)

(4) Quasi-Semifinal Site Tie-in Preferences – The Quasi-Semifinals will rotate on an annual basis between the 4 BCS bowls besides the Rose Bowl and receive preferences to get games that involve their conference tie-ins.  For example, if the Sugar Bowl were holding a Quasi-Semifinal this year, it could take #1 Auburn vs. #4 Stanford since it has the SEC tie-in.  The higher ranked team gets priority if both Quasi-Semifinal sites have a claim to the same game (i.e. if there is a #1 ACC champ vs. a #4 SEC champ, the Orange would get that game over the Sugar).  The Fiesta and Cotton would host Quasi-Semifinals in opposite years, so they can rotate the Big 12 tie-in.

(5) Other BCS Bowls Select Teams Like Today Except for (a) 3 BCS Bids from Conference Allowed and (b) Ranking Priority – The 2 BCS bowls that aren’t hosting Quasi-Semifinals in a given year would generally select teams in the same manner as today (i.e. conference tie-ins and first dibs on replacing tie-ins from that conference if they make it to a Quasi-Semifinal, at-large pool consists of teams in top 14, etc.).  However, the cap on BCS bids from a conference would be raised from 2 to 3 in order to garner more Big Ten support (and the SEC would be on board, too).  At the same time, the bowl with the higher ranked tie-in (or applicable conference tie-in replacement team) would get the first at-large selection.

(6) Two Highest Ranked Winners of Their Bowls Advance to the National Championship Game – I’ve kicked around the idea of having another BCS ranking after the bowls are completed to determine the #1 vs. #2 matchup, but I’m wary of strength of schedule components being altered during the bowl season (as it opens up way too many avenues to be attacked if bowl matchups are set up in a way that helps or hurts a team computer-wise).  I actually feel relatively comfortable setting it up where simply the two highest ranked winners of their bowls advance to the national championship game because between the Rose Bowl and the two Quasi-Semifinal Games, there 3 games with auto-bid vs. auto-bid matchups based on merit (so there aren’t at-large teams that are simply there to sell tickets based on name brand or traveling fan bases).

Again, if this system was in place this year, it would be fairly simple as #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3 games would be set into place.  Assuming that the Orange and Cotton would be the Quasi-Semifinal hosts, the bowl lineup would look like this:

2011

Rose Bowl: #10 Wisconsin (Big Ten champion) vs. #5 Oregon (Pac-12 champ)
Orange Bowl (Quasi-Semifinal 1): #1 LSU (SEC champ) vs. #4 Stanford (top 4 auto-bid)
Cotton Bowl (Quasi-Semifinal 2): #2 Alabama (top 4 auto-bid) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (Big 12 champ)
Sugar Bowl: #13 Michigan (at-large bid 1/SEC champ replacement) vs. #23 West Virginia (Big East champ)
Fiesta Bowl: #8 Kansas State (at-large bid 2/Big 12 champ replacement)* vs. #15 Clemson (ACC champ)

(* I’m assuming that the Fiesta Bowl would have taken Kansas State to preserve its Big 12 ties instead of Virginia Tech, who received the Sugar Bowl at-large bid in real life.)

Where this system would have really come into play was last season, where the bowl lineup would have turned out this way:

2010

Rose Bowl: #5 Wisconsin (Big Ten champ) vs. #2 Oregon (Pac-12 champ)
Sugar Bowl (Quasi-Semifinal 1): #1 Auburn (SEC champ) vs. #7 Oklahoma (Big 12 champ)
Fiesta Bowl (Quasi-Semifinal 2): #3 TCU (non-AQ auto-bid) vs. #4 Stanford (top 4 auto-bid)
Orange Bowl: #13 Virginia Tech (ACC champ) vs. Connecticut (Big East champ)
Cotton Bowl: #6 Ohio State (at-large bid 1) vs. #8 Arkansas (at-large bid 2)

Depending upon your point of view, 2010 would have been either awesome (3 BCS bowls had an impact the national championship race, including the Rose Bowl) or horrible (no true semifinals).  The Rose, Sugar and Fiesta would all actually have been fairly evenly matched.

Personally, I like this setup (even though it’s not as clean as the BCS Final Four) and, at the very least, it’s better than what we have now.  It’s almost like a return to the 1990s Bowl Alliance, but with a plus-one national championship game held afterwards, so the Big Ten/Pac-12/Rose Bowl trifecta would be participating in the end.  The main disadvantage is that if a plus-one system is not seeded, there could be mismatches on paper.  For instance, the Rose Bowl could theoretically feature a #1 vs. #2 game or, alternatively, have a #2 vs. #14 matchup.  That’s simply something that’s going to happen at times under this system.  (Of course, no one gets bothered by the fact that the NCAA Tournament isn’t re-seeded after games are played, so one Elite Eight could feature a #1-seed vs. #12-seed while a different one could be a #1-seed vs. #2-seed.  The Final Four teams usually all have played very different levels of competition in their regional brackets.) Once again, the purpose of this proposal is to find a compromise that the Big Ten and Rose Bowl would agree to as opposed to one that’s perfect.  There’s certainly a nostalgic part of me that wants to see the Rose Bowl and the other major bowls become blockbusters again, which is what this system could virtually guarantee.

So, add the Halfway There Compromise to the pile of BCS bowl proposals out there for your holiday enjoyment.  One of these days, a plus-one proposal is going to click with all of the powers that be (and it might be sooner rather than later).  In the meantime, Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

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With Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany effectively stating that BCS automatic qualifying status is going to disappear in 2014, there’s some even more important related news.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my contacts told me that the FBS conference commissioners were evaluating a plan for the BCS to only run the national title game and then revert back to the old system for all other bowl games.  That proposal has since been reported by CBS Sports to have originated from Delany.  This same contact is now telling me that the implementation of a plus-one system to determine college football’s national champion is gaining traction in principle.  The issue is that there are differing opinions as to what that plus-one system will look like.  Here are four main options under consideration by the conference commissioners (with my own advantage/disadvantage observations):

Option #1 – The Slive/Swofford Plan: Seeded Plus-One* – A seeded playoff between the top 4 teams using the BCS bowls and what most people think of when referring to a plus-one system.

  • Advantages: Taking the top 4 teams is the cleanest way to have a plus-one on paper.  It’s simple for any sports fan to understand.  From a conference perspective, the SEC, ACC and now Big 12 support this.  ESPN also wants a seeded format.
  • Disadvantages: Jim Delany and the Big Ten are explicitly against this, with presumably the Rose Bowl and Pac-12 in the same boat.  Those entities carry a disproportionate amount of power within college sports, so any proposal without their approval will be almost impossible to pass.  The bowls that aren’t semifinal games (particularly the Rose Bowl) would be diluted and drop significantly in value.

(* As a reminder, Mike Slive is the SEC commissioner and John Swofford is the ACC commissioner.  They jointly presented this proposal in 2008 to the rest of the conference commissioners and were promptly shot down.)

Option #2 – The Delany Plan: Old School Unseeded Plus-One – All bowls (including the current BCS bowls) revert to the pre-BCS system of choosing teams and tie-ins.  The national title matchup would then be determined using the BCS rankings after the bowl games are played.  The BCS itself would only exist to run the national championship game.

  • Advantages: Keeps and even enhances traditional tie-ins such as the Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup in the Rose Bowl (as their respective champions, even if they are ranked in the top 2 or 4, would always go to Pasadena again).  Despite public proclamations that he is against a plus-one system, Jim Delany and the Big Ten would likely agree to this plan (if only because they may see the writing on the wall that some type of plus-one is going to be passed).
  • Disadvantages: Not as clean as a seeded plus-one.  Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls still want a BCS designation (or something concrete to distinguish them from other bowls) in exchange for the payouts that they’re pumping into the system.

Option #3 – Four BCS Bowls Semi-seeded Plus-One Compromise – Each of the 4 BCS bowls would retain the conference champs from their traditional tie-ins (Rose has Big Ten and Pac-12, Sugar has SEC, Fiesta has Big 12 and Orange has ACC).  The Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls would then select at-larges in the order of the BCS ranking of their respective tie-in.  (For example, since the Sugar Bowl has #1 LSU as its tie-in, it would get the first at-large selection.)  As with Option #2, the national title matchup would then be determined using the BCS rankings after the bowl games are played.

  • Advantages: Possible compromise solution as it meets the Slive/Swofford and Delany Plans in the middle.  The tradition of the Rose Bowl is maintained, while the other BCS bowls are able to simultaneously retain their tie-ins and get rewarded if they have high-ranking teams in any given year.
  • Disadvantages: As with Option #2, not as clean as a seeded plus-one.  This would also move the BCS system back down to 8 bowl slots from the current 10.  None of the power conferences really want that, particularly the SEC and Big Ten (who have benefited the most from the 2 additional BCS bowl bids).  When Mike Slive and Jim Delany agree on something, what they say usually goes.

Option #4 – Five BCS Bowls Semi-seeded Plus-One Compromise – Same starting principle as Option #3 with the 4 current BCS bowls would retain the conference champs from their traditional tie-ins.  The Cotton Bowl or a newly created bowl (which I’ll explain later, but the Cotton will be referenced as a placeholder under this Option #4) would be added as a fifth BCS bowl.  Note that the Cotton (if it becomes the 5th BCS bowl) would NOT take the Big 12 tie-in from the Fiesta, as many people speculated would be possible.

If a top 4 team is not a member of league that has a tie-in with a BCS bowl (in the current world, the Big East and the 5 non-AQ conferences), such team would go to the Cotton Bowl.  In the event that there are multiple top 4 teams that are outside of the “Big 5” conferences, such as 2009 with #3 Cincinnati and #4 TCU, the higher ranked team would be placed in the Cotton.  The bowls would then select at-large teams in the order of the ranking of the respective “base” team that is either tied-in or allocated to them.

If there are no top 4 teams meeting that designation, then the highest ranked conference champion would get a Cotton bid provided that it is ranked in the top 12 and one of the other 4 legacy BCS bowls does not want to select that team.  In that situation, the Cotton would pick last after the other 4 BCS bowls for its at-large team.

Finally, if one of the 4 legacy BCS bowls chooses the non-Big 5 team or no non-Big 5 champion is ranked in the top 12, then the Cotton can select any two teams ranked in the top 14 after the other BCS bowls make their selections.

As the with Options #2 and #3, the national title matchup would then be determined using the BCS rankings after the bowl games are played.

  • Advantages: Like Option #3, it’s a compromise plan that meets the Slive/Swofford and Delany Plans in the middle while maintaining the traditional tie-ins.  It also keeps the current number of 10 BCS bowl bids.  The conferences outside of the Big 5 will still get access to top bowls if their champs are ranked highly enough.  Least amount of change to the current BCS system in terms of the teams that would actually be selected for bids compared to the other options, which is a plus in a college football world that has always engaged in incremental change.
  • Disadvantages: Like Options #2 and #3, this is not as clean as the seeded plus-one.

Some other overarching points that would apply regardless of which option is chosen:

(1) AQ status will likely “go away” but traditional tie-ins are preserved – There is a strong desire among the conference commissioners to eliminate the concept at AQ status, but there’s also a concurrent interest to preserve the traditional bowl tie-ins.  As I’ve stated in other posts, this seems like a matter of semantics where what used to be “AQ status” is now converted to being called “traditional tie-ins”, except that there’s no longer an automatic bid for the Big East or a mechanism for other conferences to achieve AQ status.  The non-AQ conferences apparently have more of an issue with the class distinction between AQ and non-AQ more than being provided with a chance to move up to AQ status.  This is somewhat understandable since if the Mountain West couldn’t move up after the successes that now former members TCU and Utah have had in the BCS system, there’s likely little hope for any of the non-AQ conferences to move up after the further raids by the Big East.  Speaking of which, preventing further raids by the Big East is likely another motivating factor for the MWC and Conference USA since the people in Providence would’t make moves simply for AQ numbers anymore (although I still believe that any Mount USA Alliance member would still jump to the Big East even without AQ status).

(2) Two team per conference limit to BCS likely eliminated – The Big Ten and SEC are likely getting their way on this issue with the BCS bowls being allowed to take 3 or more teams from a conference in a given year.  Why would any of the other conferences agree to this?  Let’s get to the next point…

(3) Somewhat more equitable revenue distribution– The current non-AQ conferences seem to be willing to possibly give up some access to the BCS bowls in exchange for (a) a better shot at the national title game via a plus-one system and (b) mo money mo money mo money.  Now, to be sure, the current AQ conferences would retain the lion’s share of BCS bowl revenue.  You might see the current 90% control of bowl revenue by the power conferences move down to 85% or 80%.  However, that’s mitigated by the anticipated increase in revenue from a plus-one game.  As with anything dealing with financial issues, this sounds simple in theory, yet how the revenue is distributed is probably going to be the toughest issue to agree upon out of anything in a new BCS system (much more so than whether there’s a plus-one system in the first place).As an example of what’s being floated out there, my contact presented a revenue distribution proposal that replaced the AQ/non-AQ designation with an Equity/Participating model.  A set percentage of BCS revenue (approximately 70%) would be in an “Equity Pool”.  Each conference with at least 3/4ths of its members that were original BCS members (all current AQ conferences except for the Big East) would be an “Equity Member” and receive one equal share of the Equity Pool.  Notre Dame would also be a Equity Member and receive approximately 1/12.4ths of a share of the equity pool.  (The average Equity Member has 12.4 members, so that’s how the Notre Dame share was calculated.)  After that, 10% of the BCS revenue would be in a “Participating Pool”.  The 6 non-Equity conferences would be “Participating Members”, where each of those leagues would receive one equal share of the Participating Pool.  Independents Navy, Army and BYU would receive proportional shares similar to Notre Dame, but only out of this Participating Pool.  The remaining 20% would then be in a “Selection Pool” that would be divided into 10 equal shares, with 1 share awarded for each BCS bowl bid earned by a conference.Note that this is just one revenue sharing proposal, but it seems that the current AQ conferences may be willing to bend a little on revenue sharing in exchange for a more traditional approach to BCS bowl access.  Of course, even under this proposal (which is coming from a non-AQ conference contact), the Big 5 could still receive up to 90% of the BCS money if they receive all of the BCS bowl bids.

(4) New BCS bowl might be created instead of elevating the Cotton Bowl (or a different bowl like the Capital One) – The Cotton Bowl gets mentioned a lot as a fifth BCS bowl option since there’s an assumption that Jerry Jones can buy whatever he wants, but let’s remember that the bowl still only gets the third or fourth selection from the SEC and is behind the Capital One Bowl (which has a stadium that’s a complete dump despite the holiday vacation-friendly Orlando location) in the pecking order.  So, Jerry Jones actually has very little power in college sports matters.  (Heck, he’s only been able to buy one NFL playoff win in 15 years.)  On the flip side, the Big 12 and SEC don’t necessarily want to give up the Cotton Bowl as one of the most prestigious non-BCS bowls, as they’d have to find other tie-ins that may not pay as well.  As a result, one possible solution is to avoid elevating an existing bowl altogether and have the BCS create an entirely new bowl that can be auctioned off to a new corporate sponsor and venue (or even have it rotate to multiple venues).  So, this new BCS bowl might still be played in Jerry World but would be entirely separate from the Cotton Bowl.

So, there’s a ton to chew on here.  My personal feeling is that Option #4 is going to happen – an unseeded format is really the only way you’ll get the Big Ten on board (and they’re necessary to push this through).  While a lot of people characterize me as a BCS defender, that’s definitely not the case (as evidenced by the multiple proposals that I’ve written about on how to change the system over the years).  I simply recognize the financial and access parameters in place that are fairly intractable, so the best that we can realistically hope for is incremental change.  (Note that even “Death to the BCS” author and 16-team playoff proponent Dan Wetzel, who I don’t always agree with, largely comes to the same conclusion in this very level-headed and practical discussion with Stewart Mandel about the BCS and plus-one options.  It’s definitely worth listening to as it also features an appearance by the great @DanBeebe.)  Option #4 balances such change with traditions such as the Rose Bowl, so that would be a great place to start.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

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