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Playoff proposal and the Big East

5/1/2012

There already has been much debate about whether a future four-team playoff will hurt or help the Big East.

I think it does both. I maintain that a playoff gives the Big East the best chance to get a team into the national championship game, because it opens up the competition from two to four teams. I firmly believe if a Big East team finished undefeated, it would be considered one of the top four teams in the country.

But the change to the BCS also hurts the league. Automatic qualifying status is gone, and the Big East and ACC stand to suffer the most because of its elimination. Those two leagues have sent more three-loss teams to the BCS than any other conference. While we still do not know how teams will be selected to make BCS games or the four-team playoff, it really appears the Big East has little to no leverage.

Let us not forget the Big East potentially stands to lose millions of dollars should the league not be treated as an equal to the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC in revenue distribution.

Now the latest -- under one of the proposals under consideration, the sites of the two national semifinal games might be determined by the conference affiliations of the two highest-ranked teams. ESPN.com college football writer Mark Schlabach puts it in layman's terms:

In an effort to maintain a sense of tradition, conferences would keep their relationships with BCS bowl games -- the highest-ranked ACC team would play in the Orange Bowl, Big 12 in the Fiesta, Big Ten and Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl, and SEC in the Sugar Bowl. For instance, if Alabama finished No. 1 in the retooled BCS standings, the Crimson Tide would host the No. 4 seed in a national semifinal game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. If Oregon finished No. 2, the Ducks would host the No. 3 seed in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO in Pasadena, Calif. A source familiar with the discussions said he preferred this particular plan because it "preserves tradition and the regional tie-ins."

The only one of the current AQ conferences without a tie-in to a bowl game? The Big East.

If this plan is approved, what happens if the Big East is one of the top two teams in the nation? Considerations would have to be made to get the Big East the most attractive BCS game available, particularly when it comes to fan interest and potential attendance. Commissioners are said to be leaning toward incorporating the current BCS bowls into this system.

There still is plenty to be determined. I still like the playoff because it will give more teams a chance to win a national championship. I know Cincinnati would have loved that chance in 2009, as the No. 3 team in the nation. Makes you wonder whether Brian Kelly would have made a different decision.

But the shifting BCS system may end up really hurting the Big East. No more AQ status. Potentially unequal revenue distribution. No tie-in to a BCS site. Those already are three strikes.