Saturday, November 24, 2012
Agreement on BCS playoff structure reached
Beginning in 2014, there will be a four-team, seeded college football playoff
Academic performance of teams will be factored into revenue distribution
Television broadcast rights and revenue have yet to be determined
November 12. 2012 - DENVER – College football's new playoff system will feature only six marquee bowl games, but will guarantee access to a team from the five non-power conferences, the BCS' presidential oversight committee decided in a brief meeting Monday afternoon.
The presidents also approved the general framework for revenue distribution and gave conference commissioners the go-ahead to secure a TV rights deal.
The smaller conferences known as the "Group of Five" – Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West and Sun Belt – had pushed for addition of a seventh bowl beginning in 2014, when college football moves to a four-team playoff. The Big 12 and Pac-12 also were in favor of the extra bowl, which would have allowed a second guaranteed slot for those conferences' teams. But with little interest from potential TV partners, commissioners ultimately decided against the idea.
"It was a possibility up until the end," said Big East commissioner Mike Aresco of the seventh bowl. "But this was a better plan for us. It gives us the same guaranteed access for our conference champion. We'll work out the revenue. We'll be fine."
The commissioners were also given approval by the presidential oversight committee to secure a TV rights deal. Current rights-holder ESPN is in an exclusive negotiating window that ends later this week, according to BCS executive director Bill Hancock. Sports Business Journal reported last week the network was close to a deal worth as much as $500 million annually and perhaps as much as $7.3 billion over the life of the 12-year contract. But there was at least some sentiment to test the value with potential bidders like Fox, NBC or Turner.
Navigate Research, a Chicago-based firm that measures the value of marketing and media rights, originally estimated the package might be worth from $400-450 million annually. On the open market, Navigate's director of analytics Jeff Nelson estimated the annual value could reach $550-600 million.
"It's clearly very, very valuable," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Monday.
The current BCS TV deal pays $180 million a year.
Ten percent of total revenue will be tied to teams' academic performance rates (APR). If a team's APR falls below an undetermined threshold, it would lose that portion of the revenue. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said the portion is expected to be designated for academic purposes.
The question of how the revenue will be distributed has apparently been settled, at least in broad terms. Though presidents and commissioners at the Hyatt Regency would not discuss the terms because they hadn't been finalized, CBSSports.com reported Sunday the "Group of Five" would split at least 20 percent of the overall bowl revenue.
"There will be plenty of money for everybody," BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. "The bottom line is 'more.' "
Northern Illinois president John Peters, who represented the Mid-American Conference, said the vote on revenue distribution was unanimous.
"We think it's fair," Peters said. "It does recognize that some conferences contribute more in a revenue way. … From my point of view for my conference, what it means is more."
Said the Big East's Aresco: "The fairness aspect is definitely there."
More important, according to Peters and Aresco, was the guaranteed access to the six games that will make up college football's upper-tier bowls. Big East senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli tweeted: "It wasn't about a 7th bowl. It was about a guaranteed spot. It is better for everyone if there are 6 bowls. Mission accomplished! "
Counting future members of "Group of Five" conferences, the Big East champion would have qualified in seven of the past nine years.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 and Pac-12 had pushed for the seventh bowl as a way to secure another guaranteed slot for their teams, like the SEC and Big Ten secured in a recent deal with the Orange Bowl. But Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby noted that in 11 of the past 14 years, the Big 12 had two or three teams ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings. And Scott said: "It's no longer about access. It's about a four-team playoff."
All six bowls will rotate as semifinals for the playoff. The postseason will feature three "contract" bowls – meaning games with tie-ins to conference affiliations (Rose, Sugar, Orange) – and three "host" bowls – games without tie-ins. Those games will be played New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; the championship game will be played a week later, on a Monday night.
The "host" bowls have not been determined. Hancock said bids would go out sometime after the TV deal is secured and would be finalized by spring 2013, but conventional wisdom is the slots will be filled by the Fiesta, Chick-fil-A and Cotton bowls.
Next on the agenda: finalization of a selection committee – it probably won't happen until next spring – and at some point, a name change:
"Anything," Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said, "but the Bowl Championship Series!"