Kovacevic: Pitt left out of playoff? No chance
It's been a wild week for college football since the Big 12 and SEC announced a new bowl game pairing their respective champions. Speculation has bordered on hysteria, almost entirely because of how this game will connect with the "the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model."
That last part was written into the press release by SEC commissioner Mike Slive, and not by accident.
All concerned had to be delighted to paint the image that this joint venture, combined with the Big Ten and Pac-12 teaming up for the Rose Bowl, will turn the big four of football conferences into the Big Four.
Or even the Only Four.
The extrapolated conclusion reached by many: Someday, the only route into a national four-team playoff would be through participating in one of these four conferences. Plain and simple, the winner of the new Big 12-SEC Bowl would play the winner of the Rose Bowl. You're either with them, or go get your own ball.
Even Notre Dame would finally find a dance partner.
Yeah, I know. Wow.
In that event, of course, the local fallout would be:
1. West Virginia struck gold.
2. Pitt struck out.
But I don't believe either to be the case, at least not for now.
It does, indeed, appear West Virginia has done well despite its desperate status upon leaving the Big East. The Big 12, left for dead last summer, has never looked more formidable. Visibility will be huge, and the school will reap about $20 million annually.
All sounds great.
Pitt arranged to bolt the Big East, too, for the ACC. In the new landscape, that means they left the sixth-best conference — if that anymore — for the fifth-best. The ACC's new TV deal ensures that all schools get $17 million annually. The conference looks stable now, but should any of its members - hello, Florida State — get nervous and rush to this Big 12-SEC party, all would go into flux.
Sounds scary, right?
Imagine Pitt left hanging yet again.
Imagine a playoff format that excluded the Panthers.
Well, let's stop there. None of this is going to happen.
The conference commissioners, university presidents and even the pundits flirting with a four-team playoff based on four conference champions are fantasizing. Imagine the litigation. Or even legislation. If you thought senators fumed when Utah or Boise State were snubbed by the BCS, just wait until someone tries to close the door permanently on dozens of schools.
"No way," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson responded Thursday when I raised the topic. "We don't know where a lot of this is headed, and we might still be looking at some form of the current BCS setup. But everyone absolutely will have access to the national championship."
But some will have more than others, just as the current BCS rewards only the aforementioned six conferences with automatic bowl bids. The four-team playoff field could be determined by a BCS-style formula. Or it could give automatic berths to select conference champions. That will be feverishly debated.
As for the local schools ...
Look, Pitt will break mostly even with West Virginia on money, if only because of the Mountaineers' travel load in the Big 12. Add up the buses and planes to get all their teams from Morgantown to, say, Ames, Iowa, and that $3 million edge is gone.
More important, if you ask me, the Panthers will have a more realistic path to the national title.
That's still the goal, right?
West Virginia will have to plow through some serious heavyweights — Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State — just to stay afloat in the Big 12, much less contend. Pitt's ACC opponents come with some pedigree, particularly Virginia Tech, but won't be nearly as strong. A 13-0 or 12-1 record isn't easy anywhere, but it sure looks more feasible in the ACC than the Big 12.
Would 12-1 in the ACC be enough to make a four-team playoff?
"Oh, I would think so," Pederson said. "Look, it's pretty clear that there are five power conferences and that the ACC is one of them. We control the eastern seaboard, we've got the prestige, the athletics, the academics ... we're thrilled to be where we are."
I don't doubt Pederson. But did you see what he did there?
He cited five "power conferences," not four.
No one wants to be left out.
Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.