By Tim Booth Associated Press
SEATTLE — Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott confirmed Thursday night the conference is in preliminary talks with the Big 12 Conference about creating a seventh bowl game that would match a representative from one of the two conferences against the best team from a group of five conferences, including the Big East.
Scott spoke at halftime of Washington’s game against No. 8 Stanford. He said the talks that with the Big 12 are in the infant stages and started after all the conference commissioners met last week in Chicago.
“There is an ongoing concern some of the conference have had about AQ, non-AQ, access and those types of issues and in that conversation there was a consensus that we could all imagine a seventh bowl game so there is more access points going forward for all conferences than existed in the past,” Scott said. “In my view, given that there is so much positive about the new system going forward about having a playoff and neutral site championship game it would be a real shame if all that progress and all that success is clouded by continued discussions about access and have and have-nots. I hope with all the progress we’re making, I’m certainly in favor of creating more access points and making that conversation something of the past.”
A person with direct knowledge of the plan for the four-team playoff in 2014 told The Associated Press on Wednesday that either a Pac-12 or a Big 12 team likely will be the opponent for the top-rated champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conferences did not want to make the plan public.
The proposal has the Pac-12 sending either its champion or a replacement team to the game in years when the Rose Bowl hosts a national semifinal. In years the Rose Bowl is a traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup, the Big 12 would send one of its top teams to the game.
The deal with the Big 12 and Pac-12 would be similar to the one the Orange Bowl is working on with the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference. That deal, which has not been completed, would match a team from either of those conferences or Notre Dame against the Atlantic Coast Conference champ or a another ACC team.
“There is discussion going on around the seventh bowl, the Big 12 and I have had about the possibility but we’ve also discussed other possibilities as well,” Scott said. “The reports I saw made it seem a little bit further along and a little more concrete than I would describe it as. It was a fresh conversation coming out of Chicago last week. I wouldn’t’ describe it as far along as I read but I’m happy to confirm that it is a conversation that it’s being had.”
The original playoff plan had the national semifinals rotating among six bowl sites, giving the new system two playoff games and four other high-revenue bowl games each season. The top four teams determined by a selection committee, regardless of conference affiliation, will play in the semifinals. The winners meet in a championship game about a week later.
The spots in those other four games would be for other highly ranked teams, but those slots have quickly started filling up as the major conferences began making deals.
The Rose Bowl, as has been tradition, will always match the Pac-12 and Big Ten when it does not host a semifinal. The new marquee bowl being created by the Big 12 and the SEC — site to be determined — will be also part of the system, so those two spots are filled. The Orange Bowl’s deals took two more spots out of play.
That led to concerns about limited access to the high-revenue games for the other five conferences.
The rebuilding Big East, which currently has automatic-qualifying status to the Bowl Championship Series, has been trying to gain a more secure spot in the new postseason system.
The person with direct knowledge of the plan said new Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco spearheaded the push for the addition of a seventh game to be added to the system, and presented a plan for the highest-rated champion from the other five conferences to be assured a spot in the game.
Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson told the AP last week there was enough support for a seventh game among the commissioners to make it happen.
Allowing the Pac-12 and Big 12 to share the spot opposite the best of the rest in a bowl would give the game stability and likely increase the value of its television rights, as compared to having the opponent be left undetermined.