By the time this column gets filtered through your RSS reader, the Pacific Ten Conference and the Alamo Bowl will have reached an agreement that will see the San Antonio based game swap their Big Ten representative for the best Pac Ten team not in the Bowl Championship Series. The other slot will remain with the Big 12 giving the fans at home a quality bowl game between two teams not in the Eastern Time Zone.
While the folks in San Antonio and the conferences should be happy with the arrangement, columnists are skeptical on whether the West Coast fans will travel to Texas as supposed to San Diego, as the current Pac Ten slot is held by the Holiday Bowl. Will fans of a jilted USC or UCLA travel east to watch them before New Years is what is most being asked. The better question maybe by the time the next BCS TV contract rolls around, will there be two less conferences to fill those spots?
The Alamo's change will cause a shift in other top level Non-BCS bowls from coast to coast. The Gator would just love to take a Big Ten team and dump their Big East ties for one. Others will certainly look to shift as well. The Capital One Bowl may leave Orlando, as the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando is not in the best of shape and probably is off New Years plans, at least on ABC, as the BCS package is ESPN bound for 2011.
The Big Ten started it's own network within the last couple years while the Southeastern Conference has deals in place with CBS and ESPN that almost guarantees that every game hosted by an SEC school is televised across the country. The money and exposure pours millions of dollars to the member schools and gives teams a huge edge in recruiting as what was mostly a regional exercise, with the exceptions of the very best prospects, goes national. The big question is how do the second tier BCS conferences, as in the Big East and ACC compete not only on the field, but for eyeballs and money with the SEC's?
With the rise of the Mountain West as a legitimate threat as a power conference and as the current round of television and bowl deals come to an end, can conferences that are on a down swing command the money and exposure they not only are used to getting, but need as well. Can one honestly say that Notre Dame is better off as an Independent? Yeah, they get the sweet NBC deal for home games but, with the rise of the SEC and Pac Ten, recruiting is becoming harder and harder. The recruits want to stay closer to home.
Everything in sports is cyclical. Things will swing back in due course but, as schools continue to chase a limited pool of money, it will become harder for conferences and schools who are not on the cutting edge or not featured Saturday's on ESPN to keep up with those who have the College Gameday crew permanently parked on the green.
Until next week...