If Oklahoma wins the Big 12, there could be some wheeling and dealing that sends the Sooners to New Orleans anyway.
After completion of the selection process, ... the conferences and Notre Dame may, but are not required to, adjust the pairings taking into consideration the following:
A. whether the same team will be playing in the same bowl game for two consecutive years;
B. whether two teams that played against one another in the regular season will be paired against one another in a bowl game;
C. whether the same two teams will play against each other in a bowl game for two consecutive years; and
D. whether alternative pairings may have greater or lesser appeal to college football fans as measured by expected ticket sales for the bowls and by expected television interest, and the consequent financial impact on ESPN and the bowls.
The pairings may not be altered by removing the Big Ten Champion or Pac-12 champion from the Rose Bowl.
Yes, well, we wouldn't want to ruin the Rose Bowl. Emphasis mine, by the way.
Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman published an interesting piece yesterday on how the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl could make a trade that sends a potential Big 12 champ Oklahoma to the Sugar Bowl despite its contractual requirement to play in the Fiesta Bowl. The crux of the issue is that Oklahoma has played bowls in Phoenix or Glendale in four of the past six years. If the Sooners win the Big 12, which requires them beating TCU and Texas defeating Kansas State, they would be contractually obligated to play in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale again. OU's leaders are concerned about fans not wanting to go out there again, so they're hoping to swing a deal to send their team to New Orleans instead should they win the league.
In short, Oklahoma is pleading the case that ticket sales might be negatively affected by the team playing in Arizona for the fifth time in seven years. Hence, there is a chance that the conferences might "adjust the pairings".
It does not sound like the team the Sugar Bowl would be trading back is Florida. Here is how Tramel finishes the piece:
Of course, Kent State could make it all moot. If 17th-ranked Kent State wins the Mid-American Conference title game Friday night and jumps one spot in the BCS rankings, the Golden Flashes would earn an automatic BCS bowl berth.
No way would the Fiesta then be interested in a trade of any kind, since the offer would be Kent State or the Big East champ (Louisville or Rutgers).
In other words, the Sugar Bowl isn't willing to give up its SEC team, but it might trade its at-large pick for Oklahoma. After all if the Sooners don't win the conference and Kent State doesn't get a BCS bid, then Florida-Oklahoma projects to be the Sugar Bowl pairing anyway.
With no adjustments for a Big 12 champ Oklahoma and no Kent State, the selection process for the bowls would go like this: the Sugar takes Florida to replace the SEC champ, the Fiesta nabs Oregon to put opposite OU, and the Sugar takes either Kansas State or Clemson as an at-large. A trade then could put Oklahoma with Florida in the Sugar and send either K-State or Clemson out to Arizona for the Fiesta. The choice between the Wildcats and Tigers would figure to be the Fiesta's in this situation, and it might prefer KSU to keep its Big 12 tradition alive.
Anyway, it's just one more thing to watch for in regards to who the SEC representative in the Sugar Bowl plays. Nothing here suggests that we'll see a team from down this way head out to the desert for its bowl.