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more Swarbrick on future bowl options

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, November 16, 2012, 16:57

Notre Dame football notebook: Future bowl system will be complicated but better
November 15, 2012|By ERIC HANSEN - Follow me @hansenNDInsider | South Bend Tribune


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SOUTH BEND -- There is part of Jack Swarbrick that wishes this season was 2014, when the old Bowl Championship Series and all of its limitations gets flushed for good and a new college football season postseason order takes hold.

And there is part of him that may need the next two years to bone up on his math.

"From our perspective, it's not perfect," the Notre Dame athletic director said Thursday afternoon in a phone interview.

"If I could draw this up, there are things I'd do differently -- but it's a negotiation. At the end of the day, we are so much better off moving forward than where we are this year and next."

Better, yes. Simpler? Get real.

But the calculus involved appears to be worth it from the Irish perspective. There is better access in elite years, sufficient access in very good years, and all kinds of bowl alternatives in rebuilding years that include at least six wins for the Irish.

The latest piece of the Notre Dame's postseason future firmed up Thursday, when the Orange Bowl put the finishing touches on its agreement with the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, the Southeastern Conference and ND.

The 12-year agreement will actually translate into only eight years in which the ACC champ will be paired with the highest-rated team from a pool that comprises the Irish, a Big Ten team and an SEC team. In the other four years, a national semifinal game for the four-team playoff will be hosted in the Orange Bowl.

ESPN will televise the game, and it will be played in an exclusive prime-time window on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

Notre Dame is limited to two appearances in the eight years in which the Orange isn't hosting a semifinal. The Big Ten and SEC are guaranteed a minimum of three each with no limit.

"Ideally, we'll qualify twice, the Big Ten will get three times and the SEC three," Swarbrick said. "The fundamental reason why they have a guarantee, if you will, and ours is an opportunity if there's just one of us. In a conference, there's going to be a good chance that they'll have somebody who qualifies very high.

"If you look back over our past 10 years, there are years when that wasn't the case with us. It would have created some awkward circumstances, so yes, I think it's very fair."

Because of the rotating nature of the national semifinals and because of the varying degrees of tie-ins with the six bowls that share the semifinal stage, the postseason picture changes -- sometimes dramatically -- from season to season.

That includes the number of at-large teams involved in the bowls' higher tier and whether ND will be competing with a second-, third- or fourth-place SEC or Big Ten team in a given year for the Orange Bowl berth.

Here is a largely calculus-free version of what Notre Dame's postseason options will look like beginning with the 2014 season:

-- Level 1: The National Semifinals

This is the easiest to diagram. If the Irish are one of the top four
teams in the nation, as chosen by the still-to-be-formed selection
committee, they're in a national semifinal.

If they win that game, they're in the national championship. if they
win that game, coach Brian Kelly likely gets a raise.

The national semis will rotate through the six access bowls, not all
of which have been identified. The Rose, Sugar (Champions Bowl) and
Orange are set. The three likely to join them are the Fiesta, Cotton
and Chick-fil-A.

-- Level 2: The Access Bowls

Remember when you argued about doing math homework, because you said you'd never need it down the road? Mom was right. Today's the day.

If Notre Dame falls short of the top four semifinalists, the next option is the Orange Bowl. How far down the Big Ten and SEC pecking order the team competing with ND for that spot fall depends on these factors:

-- Where the national semifinals are being held.

-- How many SEC and/or Big Ten teams make the national semis.

Take last year. LSU and Alabama would have been in the national semis. If it was a year in which the Sugar and the Rose were not hosting the national semis, a third SEC team, in this example Arkansas, would end up in the Sugar Bowl as a replacement.

The Big Ten would not have had a team in the semis. Wisconsin would then play in the Rose Bowl. And Michigan, the Big Ten's second-highest rated team (13), and South Carolina (9) would go into a pool against unranked ND. In this model, South Carolina plays the ACC champ.

Using this year's BCS standings, the No. 3 Irish miss the Orange Bowl because they're rated too high.

In years in which an ACC team makes it into the national semis, a replacement ACC team moves into that spot in the Orange Bowl.

And what about years in which ND would be paired with an ACC team it already played during the regular season?

"I wouldn't rule out a rematch," Swarbrick said, "especially if it had been a good game. If it is not attractive, there would probably be a number of ways to work out a switch with another bowl, since we have two other conferences and ND involved."

Of the six access bowls, two -- the Rose and Sugar -- are tied into two conferences each. The Rose, in non-semifinal years, pairs the Big Ten vs. the Pac-12. The Sugar -- called the Champions Bowl during the negotiation process -- pairs the SEC and Big 12 champs.

Two bowls will have one tie-in -- the Orange with the ACC. and a yet-to-determined bowl will host the highest rated among the Big East, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Conference USA champions. Two of the access bowls have no tie-ins.

Swarbrick said Notre Dame could play in one of three other access bowls in years it gets aced out of the Orange, but the criteria to get them in that game isn't clear, because it would change from year to year.

"It's so complicated by factors of where the semis are hosted," Swarbrick said.

-- Level III: The ACC Package

If the Irish fall short of both the national semis and the access bowls, the ACC has a bowl lineup in which ND can find a landing spot, provided they reach at least six wins.

The current ACC lineup is Chick-fil-A, Sun, Music City, Russell Athletic, Independence, Belk and Military bowls.

"You can expect change in those bowl alignments," Swarbrick said. "Getting the BCS done, and closing out the Rose, (Sugar) and Orange, is now the starting gun for everybody to lock down their other bowl deals.

"One of the things I hope is the inclusion of Notre Dame into the negotiations can get the ACC some additional bowls that are attractive.

"It's a different world for us, but I think at the end of the day, a much better one."

Tags:
swarbrick, bowls

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If I read this right:

by NDSF, Friday, November 16, 2012, 17:25 @ Jay
edited by NDSF, Friday, November 16, 2012, 17:33

1. Finish in top four, we get into the Semis. Finish below fourth, and
2. We can never get to Sugar or Rose as an Access Bowl; but
3. We have potential to get to the Orange twice in twelve years as an Access Bowl, but those two are not guaranteed slots based on our performance and it is unclear how we get them versus the secondary Big Ten and other conf teams; and
4. As to an opportunity for the other three Access Bowls, the standards currently are opaque.
5. We get some sort of access to the non-Access ACC-tied bowls, but unclear yet who they will be and what the standards for us would be.

Based on what I see so far, better than what we have, but not too great. Lots of potential for 10-2 and 9-3 ND teams to not have access to bowl games commensurate with their achievement. Hopefully the access to these others three Access Bowls is better. If they truly have their own picks and no tie-ins, then our market advantage can come into play and help us with Fiesta, Cotton and the third non-committed Access Bowl. The language re the criteria changing each year re those three worry me that the conferences are trying to hog-tie us. Sounds like there is much negotiating to go, so our options might improve.

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my question on Sugar and Rose

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Friday, November 16, 2012, 17:49 @ NDSF

What if the tie-in teams are in the playoffs, and the next-best conference team is terrible (or a "non-qualifier" by whatever definition holds at the time)? Would that lousy team automatically get to go to Sugar/Rose, or would the bowl get to pick a better, more qualified fill-in (as they do now)?

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the way I read it was

by NDSF, Friday, November 16, 2012, 17:51 @ Jay

that the conferences had negotiated iron-clad deals with those two. Could be wrong, but the lack of discussion of any other options if the conf teams we in the semis or sucked made it seem that way to me.

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