WHY NO BCS BOWL? IT’S THE PRICE USC PAYS FOR BEING IN THE SEC
For 11 months out of the year, South Carolina’s spot in the Southeastern Conference is the proverbial gravy train with biscuit wheels.
December, at least this December, happens to be the month it is not, and that has some Gamecock fans crying foul. South Carolina beat Clemson and UCF during the regular season but has to watch the Tigers and Knights play in a BCS bowl game, while it plays in the Capital One Bowl.
The BCS rules stipulate only two teams per conference can play in the game’s marquee bowls (a rule that will die along with the BCS following this year’s round of games by the way), and it’s a lot easier to finish among the top two in the ACC and AAC than it is in the SEC.
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The Gamecocks had one of the best years in school history and are the third-highest ranked team in the SEC this year. They’ve bumped into the same class ceiling the last two years, when they have fielded very good teams in years when only elite would have been good enough to play in the BCS game. When you’re playing in the conference that has produced the last seven national titles, you’re essentially battling for one BCS spot unless you’re playing for the national championship.
Here’s the other thing to remember, this “slight” cost South Carolina $500,000, not the millions you might imagine given the huge disparity between bowl payouts. While the Capital One Bowl eventually will “pay” the Gamecocks $4.5 million or somewhere in that neighborhood, and some of the BCS bowls will give out north of $15 million, the SEC bylaws stipulate that money is divided among conference schools anyway.
It works like this: For bowls paying between $4 million and $6 million (such as South Carolina’s game this year), the participating team receives $1.375 million plus a travel allowance determined by the SEC. The rest is divided up 15 ways during the summer with one share going to each SEC school and one share going to the conference office. Alabama, which will play in the Sugar Bowl, gets to take $1.875 million off the top plus its travel allowance and then puts the rest in the pot to be divided those same 15 ways. While a half million dollar difference might seem like a lot to the rest of us, it’s a blow an SEC athletic budget easily can shrug off.
So, when you hear Steve Spurrier saying, “What’s the difference?” between a BCS bowl and the Capital One Bowl, this is what he means.