Discord Reigns in BCS Playoff Negotiations

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

The system that caused so much controversy in life is causing just as much in its death throes.

If there's one thing to remember when it comes to the governance of I-A college football, it's this: no one is in charge. There is no commissioner or committee running things. The NCAA does a few things, the conferences do much of the rest, and the individual schools clean up what's left.

It's never more apparent than when the conferences get together to discuss major changes like the upcoming ones regarding the postseason. Initially, we found out that six bowls would be a part of the new system. Then those games bifurcated into the categories of three contract bowls, where the participants are determined by tie-ins (e.g. the Big Ten and Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl) when they aren't hosting semifinals, and three access bowls, where the participants will be chosen by the selection committee.

It was fine when the five major conferences all had one tie-in each, but that left the Orange Bowl with an empty slot. That state didn't last long, as the SEC and Big Ten swooped in to get a conditional tie-in to it in years when Notre Dame won't get that last slot. The Big 12 and Pac-12 weren't happy, so they devised a plan to get a fourth contract bowl where they would share one tie-in and one team from the mid-major conferences would get the other. The last we heard on that was that this fourth contract bowl was likely going to be scrapped because the TV networks weren't going to pay much for it.

CBSSports.com is reporting that the fourth contract bowl isn't quite so dead just yet, as it may end up just replacing one of the access bowls instead of being added on as a seventh game to the system. The Big 12 and Pac-12 haven't given up on it because they are at a disadvantage in terms of revenue collection by not having that second potential tie-in. One source said the current impasse wouldn't have happened if not for that second tie-in for the SEC and Big Ten. Bob Bowlsby and Larry Scott got outmaneuvered, and so now they're trying to play catch up. However, another source said flat-out that "TV doesn't want it", referring to this fourth contract bowl, so it has a rough road ahead to come into being.

A lot of the time it's easy to view the major conferences as being aligned on two axes, with the Big Ten and Pac-12 on one side and the SEC and Big 12 on the other (the ACC is a fifth wheel). Well, this secondary tie-in business made Bowlsby mad by his own public admission, and multiple sources told CBS that Larry Scott and Jim Delany are on opposite sides of the issue. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are friends in context of the Rose Bowl only. Beyond that partnership, they are just looking out for themselves. The same goes for the SEC and Big 12 with the Champions Bowl.

It's not surprising that the stage where the money gets discussed is when the conferences are beginning to turn on one another. The larger pay day is one of the biggest reasons to do this postseason change, and it matters when many athletics departments around the country struggle to keep their finances sound.

The next BCS meeting is on November 12, so perhaps we'll get a resolution on this matter by then. My bet is that the fourth contract bowl won't happen because the TV money just isn't there for it. The Big 12 and Pac-12 will just have to stew over that and lobby the committee hard each year for the inclusion of their second-best teams. After all, college football is now played on five nights of the week for heaven's sake and matchups are changed at the last minute just because ESPN wants more inventory.

Schools have been doing whatever TV networks tell them to do for some time; I can't imagine why they'd stop now.

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