Knudson: The Advantage of Moving East? Not Much
By Mark Knudson, The Mtn. InsiderApril 30, 2012
If they knew then what they know now, would Boise State and San Diego State have decided to move east?
College Football is going to a four-team playoff starting in 2014. Along with that, the so-called AQ, or automatic qualifying status, for the six major conferences has been eliminated. This means that in theory every team now has an equal shot at making it to college football’s national championship game.
A level playing field? Not quite. There are obviously conferences and programs that have advantages, but none that can really be challenged in a court of law.
Stripping away the AQ helps the Southeastern Conference, for example, because it removes restrictions than can keep SEC teams out of big bowls and big paydays. Under the BCS system, only two teams from any single conference could participate in the BCS. Last season, when SEC members Alabama and LSU played in the title game, fifth-ranked Arkansas was not eligible for a BCS game because they came from the same conference. Now, if you’re in SEC headquarters, you’re envisioning a four-team SEC field in the first national title playoff at the end of the 2014 season.
So in some respects, eliminating the AQ could help the rich get richer.
Why then is this a good thing for the Mountain West?
Because by wiping away the AQ, the NCAA has created a situation where conferences can no longer be given status and rewards they don’t deserve. Conference ranking will have to be earned in much the same manner as is done in basketball, where the MW’s very strong conference RPI was reflective of the performance of the teams in it. Last season, the MW was rated as a better basketball conference than the Pac 12, for instance.
Now in football, if the SEC is indeed the best on the field, that will show up. But if the MW is better than the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conferences, which has been for the past several seasons, that will reflect as well. If the MW champ is better than the Big East or ACC champ, they will get a better reward. If the new plan had been in place last season, a one-loss Boise State would have landed in a better postseason position than a four-loss champion from the Big East or ACC.
Which brings us back to the question: Why are Boise State and San Diego State still planning to move to the Big East? There is no more AQ and subsequently there is no guarantee of any kind of huge money TV deal. That remains pure speculation. What is that advantage they’re going to get for all those cross-country trips again?
Air Force is looking pretty smart right about now.
Boise State has been rightfully frustrated by the way the system has treated them to this point. Several Bronco teams, including last season’s, deserved a better bowl assignment (and payday) than the weak champion from the Big East. They had thought that if the Broncos go to a conference with an automatic BCS berth and win that conference with a 9-3 record, a better bowl bid awaits than if they go 11-1 in the MW.
Not anymore. Now, any team in the Top 10 of the final BCS standings would be eligible to play in a BCS bowl game, regardless of its conference affiliation.
They won’t all get equal paydays. The six power conferences will probably still get a bit more of the pie because they are generally in bigger markets. But when the playoff begins, the money is going to be so much better – TV money will likely double at least - and the share of it for the other five conferences, including the Mountain West, so much bigger that no one is complaining.
So tell me again why Boise State and SDSU are choosing to join the Big East?
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