The Orange Bowl has cast its future. The game will eschew the Big East, featuring the ACC Champ against a wildcard team (highest ranked left between B1G, SEC and Notre Dame). Though the new postseason will be more competitively valid with a four-team playoff, this further confirms it will be far less inclusive than the present BCS. It will benefit the SEC and Big Ten disproportionately. There’s no limit on teams and much of the revenue won’t be shared.
It is not a common scenario, but last season four SEC teams – LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina – finished inside the Top 10. Under the new system, LSU and Alabama reach the playoff. Arkansas goes to the Champions Bowl. South Carolina edges out Michigan for the Orange Bowl place. Unlike under the BCS, those bowls won’t share revenue. So the SEC has two teams in the playoff and receives direct shares of two of the most profitable bowl games. Almost every year, either the Big Ten or the SEC will snap up that second place in the Orange Bowl.
More bowl games will be added into the semifinal/series mix, which might have included Georgia as the fifth-SEC team in 2011. Then you look at the top-tier bowl games outside the system. We can presume the Outback, Capital One and Gator bowls are pleased with the Big Ten/SEC lineup. The SEC has another tie-in with the Chick fil-A Bowl. Under the new system, all nine bowl-eligible SEC teams would have played in the playoff, one of the mega bowls or in a plum New Year’s Day/New Year’s Eve slot in 2011.
The playoff hangup was not fear of the money the playoff will generate. It was fear among powerful conferences equitable distribution of that money would even the playing field. The SEC and Big Ten have not only retained their traditional advantages in the new postseason structure. They have enhanced and entrenched them.
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