Buckle up, because this is confusing: The TV deals for the particular bowls involved in the rotation that will host the college football playoffs (an official name, like so much else right now, is TBD) are still be hammered out. The biggest news is that the conferences themselves are in control, as evidenced by Tuesday's news from CBS's Dennis Dodd that the ACC is shopping the Orange Bowl to a variety of networks.
What's potentially much bigger - and worse - news for all teams not in the Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big 10 or Pac-12 is that those leagues will be allowed to pick teams from their own conference as "replacements" for the major bowls if the assigned team in participating in the four-team playoff. Explain, Dennis:
Leagues involved in the Rose, Champions and Orange, will get to pick the replacement teams if one their teams is involved in the playoff. At least four times in the BCS era, a second (or third) team from a major conference would have gotten into the new six-bowl rotation based on this latest information. Example: In 2007, Virginia Tech finished No. 3 and would go to the Orange Bowl. In the new structure, the ACC would be allowed to replace Tech with No. 14 Boston College. In 2009, the Champions Bowl would have been allowed to replace No. 2 Texas with No. 19 Oklahoma State.
Those perhaps aren't great replacements, but they're great for the conference -- and tough for the have-nots (Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Sun Belt) trying to get a team into a major bowl.
What's this really mean? That Houston and "mid-majors" like the Cougars, who've had enough talent and wins to nip at the BCS' feet in recent years will have an even harder time landing in one of the biggest bowls once the system goes into place in 2014.
A selection committee will rank the 20 best teams in the country, putting Nos. 1-4 in the playoff, and "making recommendations" for the schools ranked Nos. 5-12 for the non-playoff bowls. However, teams in those spots aren't guaranteed anything, and if, say, the Orange Bowl would've had No. 3 ranked Florida State, the ACC free to pick (and believe us, they will) a replacement from their own conference and not, say, an 11-1 Houston team.
If the four-team bracket seemed to exclude Cinderellas like Boise, Houston and others, this clause, buried among other seemingly more newsworthy events, could virtually wipe every team not in one of the Top 5 conferences completely out of postseason relevance.
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