College footballs new postseason format, set to begin in 2014, is nothing more than BCS 2.0.
Behind the bright, shiny four-team playoff a step up, no doubt, from the old two-team format college footballs power conferences are engineering a system designed for their maximum profit and everyone elses minimal access.
Despite a 2-13 record in BCS games, the ACC announced a 12-year agreement with the Orange Bowl on Tuesday, preserving the league champions spot in one of six top-tier games.
Coupled with the Rose Bowl (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten) and Champions Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12), the five leagues have managed to retain automatic-qualification status, one of the worst parts of the BCS system. The Big East, which has AQ status in the current BCS format, is unlikely to be invited back into the club. Boise State joins the Big East in 2013.
The Orange Bowl agreement allows Florida State to win the ACC at 8-4 and play in the game, as it did in 2005.
And if Florida State or any ACC team for that matter makes the four-team playoff, the agreement allows a second league team to play in the Orange Bowl, regardless of rank or record.
So much for college footballs new meritocracy.
Because of rules surrounding replacement teams and the rotation of semifinals through the six games, it is possible that as few as three spots in the six bowls will truly be open.
The number could shrink if the Orange Bowl adds another tie-in, perhaps with the highest-ranked team from a pool that includes Notre Dame and other leagues.
The top four will be chosen without respect to conference, though some leagues will have an easier time qualifying teams for the three-game playoff.
Under the new system, there will not be AQ and non-AQ conferences. Instead, the Big Five leagues will play in contracted bowls, while the rest of college football will hope for at-large spots in access bowls.
The Rose, Orange and Champions (which could be the Sugar or the Cotton or some combination) are contracted games. The access games have not been decided or bid on, but its safe to assume the Sugar/Cotton and the Fiesta will be two of them.
This is starting to sound familiar, right?
Not so fast, said Nick Carparelli, the Big Easts senior associate commissioner.
From 2007, when the BCS expanded to five games, to 2011, at least seven conferences have been represented in BCS games each year. When Virginia Tech got the final spot in the Sugar Bowl over Boise State last year, that streak was snapped.
Access will be there for conference champions of his league, Carparelli said.
I dont believe any league is going to be squeezed out, Carparelli said. Seeing the system expand from 10 to 12 (bowl slots), the purpose of that was for access for other deserving champions. The notion there is going to be less access is a false one.
In approving the new system last week, the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee was provided evidence that five additional non-AQ league members would have played in major bowls had this system been in place the past 12 years. We have to take the committee at its word.
But, in the new system, theres no guaranteed access for a team from outside contract leagues. There currently is no language that assures conference champs ranked in the top 12 a spot, like the BCS provided.
Once the spots are filled by contract leagues and the necessary replacements, the selection committee tasked with choosing the four-team playoff is supposed to slot the next teams based on ranking.
So no more jumping Boise State to get to Virginia Tech and no more artificial limits on the number of teams from outside the contract leagues.
On the other hand, without definitive criteria that assures access, the Broncos fate depends on the selection committee and the number of spots that second- and third-place teams from contract leagues occupy.
The presidents will continue to work on access and revenue distribution issues, Carparelli said. Those have always been two of Boise States biggest complaints about the current system.
The new format, while changing the language, adding two more bowl slots and giving two more teams a shot at the national title, does little to fix those issues. Until it does, the system will just repeat the mistakes of the past.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444