So it looks like the SEC’s bowl “negotiations” are now complete.
The conference announced Monday an agreement with nine bowl games beginning in 2014. The deals extend six years and include mostly familiar faces.
In addition to whatever appearances SEC teams make in the new College Football Playoff, which begins next season, and appearances in select years in the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl, the conference will have tie-ins with the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., Texas Bowl in Houston (new), Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. (new), Birmingham Bowl and Advocare V100 Bowl in Shreveport.
Here is why I am using the word “negotiations” loosely: It has been clear since the SEC’s annual spring meetings in June that commissioner Mike Slive was going to tell the bowl games that wanted to be affiliated with his league that it was going to be the Slive Way or the highway. As part of the new deals, the SEC has not only required the bowls to lower their controversial ticket guarantees (which forced schools to pay for any of their ticket allotment that was not sold) but has also taken complete control of which conference teams go where.
“This bowl process gives us the best opportunity to address several issues that impact SEC fans, including the creation of intriguing matchups, the accommodation of travel for fans, reduced ticket obligations for our schools and a variety of assignments to help prevent repetitive postseason destinations,” Slive said in a statement released along with the news.
Eight of the nine bowls, with the only possible exception being the Birmingham Bowl, will match SEC teams against teams from the ACC, Big Ten or Big 12. This will lessen the chances of a league team suffering an embarrassing loss to a minor-conference team.
Along with the creation of the SEC Network, this is an example of the SEC throwing its weight around on the momentum of seven straight national championships.