Compared with the BCS, we're getting a better C -- champion, because of the playoff. But the other two letters are changing very little. This whole deal is the same faces, minus a few. Actually, as it turns out, it's the same faces, minus the Big East.
That's no surprise. The Big East hasn't had anybody besides West Virginia in a position of consistent relevance for the past seven years, and it's losing West Virginia. That math is not hard to do. Simple subtraction.
But here's what doesn't add up: How in the name of all that is Holtz does the ACC merit special inclusion in a premium bowl?
The answer is elementary. It doesn't merit inclusion. It negotiated inclusion. It can afford inclusion. Along with the announcement that it will be aligned with the Orange Bowl, the ACC also told ESPN that it now controls the broadcast rights to the bowl, meaning that it will be taking bids on who broadcasts it, and will be taking at least 50 percent of those broadcast rights for itself.
This is a major change from the BCS era, and signals this: Outside the playoff, it really is every man (and conference, and bowl) for himself. And outside of the playoff, on-the-field merit means about as much as it ever did in the bowl system.
A refresher. When we last left the Orange Bowl, West Virginia was doubled over in laughter at the ACC's latest BCS entrant, Clemson. The Mountaineers had 49 points at halftime, and 63 at the end of the third quarter. It was a farce. Just like any series of major bowls that includes the ACC as an automatic participant.
In the past seven years, the ACC has lost seven BCS bowl games. Its only win was a 20-7 Virginia Tech win over Cincinnati in 2009.
It was given two BCS chances last season and lost them both, running its losing streak in BCS games to four. The average margin of defeat in those, 19.5 points.
This isn't even, "If you can't beat them, join them." This is if you can't win them, see if you can negotiate the broadcast rights from them.
I don't care what rationale you want to use. I don't want to hear that a conference's quality can't be measured by one bowl game. This whole thing is about one bowl game.
Here's what has happened. You have this four-team playoff at the top, representing a quest for the best team in college football.
And right under that, you have the money grab. The Rose Bowl as it always has been with the Pac-12 and Big Ten. This new Champions Bowl between the SEC and Big 12. Those are fine. Nobody's arguing that those conferences can do what they want.
But this Orange Bowl agreement with a conference clearly not of the caliber of the power group and whose champion more often than not in recent history has not even been up to the caliber of the Mountain West or even Big East champion, perfectly illustrates a new post-BCS reality. The premium bowls no longer are operating under some kind of umbrella (like the BCS), but instead are on their own, signing contracts with conferences as free agents, just as other bowls do.
The added wrinkle that the ACC has negotiated the broadcast rights just gives more power and money to a conference based on negotiation, not merit. And while that may be an improvement on bowl officials having that power and money, it still doesn't mean it's deserved or even what's best for college football.
With the framework of the college football playoff worked out, the details figured to be the things that truly revealed whether college football leadership was opening its mind to a more sensible postseason process.
This ACC deal is an add-on that doesn't fit. Don't expect, say, ESPN to point this out, given that ESPN has a TV contract to broadcast ACC football, and it having an automatic entry to the Orange Bowl every year is only protecting its investment. Shoot, the ACC going out to negotiate the bowl broadcast only gives ESPN an out to let it go, given that the bowl has been pulling single-digit ratings with the ACC as its only common denominator the past six years.
This is a clear case of an unmerited place for a conference that has been worse than mediocre at the BCS level in the past seven years. And while BCS performance isn't the only indicator of a conference's worth, it is the best indicator of its worthiness to regularly supply teams to top-level bowls.
The argument here isn't that some other conference should get an automatic tie-in with the Orange Bowl. The argument is that if you're going to have premium bowls, you shouldn't promise (or sell) one of the spots to a non-premium team. Every time you do that, you risk excluding a more deserving team. With the stakes this high, that shouldn't happen.
So while this Orange Bowl deal might be golden for the ACC, it's a lemon for the rest of college football.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:03:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This has a familiar sound. Bobby Petrino takes over a program making a conference change and looks to lift it in stature.The new Western Kentucky University coach was at the ConferenceMore >>
In Eric Crawford's "Morning Line," Bobby Petrino says he's not patient and wants to get WKU "cranked up pretty good" in a hurry, plus John Calipari's storm donation and more.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 10:38 PM EDT2013-05-21 02:38:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater doesn't ask for much. So when he told University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson that he wanted to ask somethingMore >>
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is certainly going to be a Heisman Trophy candidate to start next season, but he has told coaches he doesn't want a Heisman publicity campaign.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 12:41 AM EDT2013-05-20 04:41:21 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The scene is always the same. After every University of Kentucky basketball home game, the coach walks across the Rupp Arena court, puts on his headset and starts talking withMore >>
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari will do things a bit differently with his young but talented Wildcats team this season.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 11:54:38 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Longtime golf commentator and 1964 U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi died today, and there's nearly no need to add to the tributes that surely will come, because there's a greatMore >>
Ken Venturi left a lasting memory in Louisville when he opened Hunting Creek Country Club's championship course with a record that still stands, and with a simple gesture to a sportswriter 25 years later.More >>
Tuesday, May 14 2013 5:25 PM EDT2013-05-14 21:25:36 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I like Andrew Wiggins. Here's a kid who didn't want to make a spectacle of his recruitment, despite being the top-ranked basketball recruit in the nation and being hailed as theMore >>
Eric Crawford surveys the carnage of the Andrew Wiggins circus, and ponders what it means for the future of civilization.More >>
Sunday, May 12 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-13 03:30:46 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Alabama football coach Nick Saban simply said out loud what people have been talking about for some time last week during a stop on his offseason "Crimson Caravan."RespondingMore >>
Alabama coach Nick Saban's idea for power conference football team to play only teams from other elite conferences sounds good -- but most programs would never accept it.More >>
Saturday, May 11 2013 10:26 AM EDT2013-05-11 14:26:43 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The NCAA basketball rules committee has wrapped up its most recent round of talks with more tweaks.It didn't reduce the shot clock, but it did try to streamline the video reviewMore >>
Ten suggestions to get the game of college basketball moving again. More >>