ATHENS - The SEC and Big 12 have basically formed their own Rose Bowl alliance.
The two powerful conferences announced on Friday that starting in 2014 - when the new four-team playoff is set to begin - the champions of the SEC and Big 12 will meet in a postseason bowl.
But that bowl, set and date are yet to be decided.
And here's the bigger rub: The champions of the SEC and Big 12 are very likely to be involved in the new playoff. The champ of each conference has been in the BCS championship game in 11 of the 14 years of the current format.
So when a conference champ goes to the playoffs, the next available team will be selected for the bowl matchup.
Here's how it would have worked this past year:
- The SEC champion (LSU) and Big 12 champ (Oklahoma State) would both have been in the four-team playoff. So would have Alabama.
- So the bowl matchup would likely have been Arkansas (next up from the SEC) and Kansas State (next up from the Big 12).
“A new January bowl tradition is born,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. “This new game will provide a great match-up between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting post-season atmosphere created by the new four-team model. Most importantly, it will provide our student-athletes, coaches and fans with an outstanding bowl experience.”
The game is also set to take place on New Year's Day.
What's more interesting here is the political maneuvering. The Pac 12 and Big Ten have held firm to their Rose Bowl alliance, and have been loathe to separate their traditional game from the four-team playoff. The Big Ten recently dropped the idea of campus sites as the semifinal games, because they hope to have the Rose Bowl host a semifinal within the playoff.
But the SEC and Big 12 have been the most successful conferences in the BCS format - especially the SEC. So by allying themselves, they're positioning themselves against the Rose Bowl.
It will also be interesting to see which bowl gets the game. You would guess the Sugar Bowl, with its long history with the SEC. But the Cotton Bowl, even though it's not a part of the BCS, will make a case, as will the Fiesta Bowl.
Then there's also the possibility the two conferences will just create their own bowl out of this. In fact, outgoing Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said Friday it would be called the Champions Bowl, at least for now.
(Never mind that there's little chance the actual champions of each conference will ever appear in the bowl.)
It's also noteworthy that there apparently aren't any hard feelings from the SEC raiding the Big 12 last year for Texas A&M and Missouri.
All in all, it's just another sign of the changing dynamics in college football, with the playoff finally looming.