New York Daily News


Big conference­s cash in with new format


College football fans can finally start filling out their brackets. Representa­tives from the power conference­s can start filling up their coffers, and those from smaller schools can start filling up their complaint boxes.

College football has a playoff system, and while it appears as if everyone was a winner Tuesday, when a 12-man NCAA presidenti­al oversight committee approved a four-team playoff that will replace the current BCS model beginning in 2014, it’s not that simple.

In the new format, the four participat­ing teams will be determined by a selection committee. The makeup of the committee has yet to be determined, but it reportedly will have a representa­tive from every conference and will use a power rating — much like the NCAA selection committee has in basketball — that would place emphasis on wins and losses, conference champions, head-to-head results and strength of schedule. And don’t you think they will be looking to create made-for-TV matchups that will generate ratings and commerical money?

“This was timely, had to be done,” former Big 12 interim commission­er Chuck Neinas said. “It was a response to the public, response to the interest in college football.”

Of course, the elite conference­s all seem happy. The Big Ten and Pac-12 wanted to keep the Rose Bowl relevant, and to not have to play a playoff game in SEC country if they don’t have to. The SEC and Big 12 were against the idea of putting in only conference champions, allowing for the possibilit­y of a second team from a power conference getting into the Final Four.

But this appears to be a case of the rich getting richer.

Schools from the non-power conference­s may be relegated to a welfare neighborho­od by the strength-of-schedule component in the selection-committee process that makes it hard for them to pile up enough points to be taken seriously because none of the toptier programs will schedule them in non-league games.

The total TV package (ESPN will get the first shot at it) for this new era could be worth as much as $5 billion-$6 billion during a 12year cycle. Right now, the revenue split has still not been determined, but it appears the lions’ share will go to five power conference­s — the SEC, Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12 and ACC — and probably Notre Dame, with the diminished Big East, Mountain West and Conference USA scrounging for handouts.

“I think it goes just far enough, but not too far,” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger, indicating there was never a serious discussion of an eight- or a 16team playoff.

“There will always be some people who want more,” Big Ten commission­er Jim Delany said. “Sometimes more is less. Two worked for 14 years. This is going to work for 12.

Work for whom?

An eight-team playoff might have at least offered a chance for teams such as Boise State or Louisville from the Big East or independen­t BYU to squeeze through the door if they had outstandin­g seasons.

There is one other thing to consider. The new world order raises questions about whether this new commodity should still be labeled not-for-profit in a struggling economy that can ill afford to take that kind of money out of the tax base.

The format will feature two semifinal games played on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 in the existing bowl structure with a championsh­ip game being held on a Monday at least a week later. The site of the title game — much like how the NFL decides on a location for the Super Bowl — could go to any city that can afford the multimilli­on dollar entrance fee and can accommodat­e a huge event.

The format will incorporat­e six bowls as part of a rotation that would see two bowls host the semifinals every three years. Current BCS bowls — Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta — would get the first chance to host the semis, with the two more to be determined. The length of the deal is in part to prevent the temptation to increase the brackets in the near future.

“There were no shrinking violets in that room,” Steger said. “There was a difference of views. So it would be a serious mistake to assume it was a rubber stamp.”

At the same time, the presidents finished up their meeting, which began at 3 p.m., in less H than three hours. aving never been a big fan of the NCAA Basketball Selection committee, which tends to favor teams from high major conference­s and limit options for mid-major teams, I’m skeptical of the process, but will take a waitand-see attitude on this.

But two years from now, will anyone be shocked if a deserving team is left out of the mix and we start hearing an outcry to restructur­e the current format?

It makes you wonder if anyone, other than the big conference­s ” raking in the cash, will really be happy?

 ?? Dick Weiss ??
Dick Weiss

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