Two of college football’s heavyweight conferences will soon be hooking up on an annual basis.
The Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences on Friday announced a five-year agreement that will match the champions from each league in an annual postseason bowl game beginning after the 2014 season.
The new agreement will not affect the likely four-team playoff that will potentially begin the same season. If the champion from one or both leagues qualifies for the playoff, the leagues announced, then the next team in line will replace the champion in the bowl game.
The specifics for the game are still being ironed out, but the following ideas are being discussed. The game will likely be played in primetime on Jan. 1, with the site being determined by a bid process. For now, it appears likely that Cowboys Stadium in Dallas will be strongly considered. In addition, revenues from the game will be split equally between the Big 12 and SEC.
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“Our goal is to provide the fans across the country with a New Year’s Day prime-time tradition,” said acting Big 12 Conference commissioner Chuck Neinas. “This is a landmark agreement between two of the most successful football conferences during the BCS era to stage a postseason event.
“The creation of this game featuring the champions of the Big 12 and SEC will have tremendous resonance in college football.”
In many ways, the game will act as the Big 12 and SEC answer to the Rose Bowl. And while it remains likely that one or both champions will qualify for the four-team playoff each year, the new bowl agreement does guarantee a high-profile landing spot for the top teams that are left out of the playoff.
“A new January bowl tradition is born,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. “This new game will provide a great matchup between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model.”
Recent history suggests the Big 12 and SEC will have no problem putting teams in the playoff. The leagues have dominated the college football landscape during the BCS era, combining for 16 appearances in the BCS National Championship Game; the SEC leads with nine appearances while Big 12 teams have made seven trips to the title game.
“What a great day for the Big 12,” KU coach Charlie Weis said. “To be matched with the champion of the SEC places the two most successful conferences in the BCS era head-to-head. All Big 12 fans should be happy today.”
For some, the game also signals the growing stability of the Big 12, a conference wounded by the departure of four schools — including Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC — during the past two years.
“This agreement,” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said, “reinforces that the Big 12 is exactly what we've been saying for some time -- a strong, stable, vibrant conference that is at the forefront of intercollegiate athletics.”