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Big 12/SEC bowl alliance is great news for the Big 12

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY -- At points over the past two years, the Big 12 looked almost doomed. But on Friday, the Big 12, along with the SEC, made a power move to solidify a bowl partner and possibly its future.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 18, 2012

Hey, wasn't the Big 12 supposed to be a conference in trouble? A struggling league? A teetering alliance?

Sure doesn't seem that way any more.

The latest and possibly greatest proof of that came Friday when the Big 12 and the SEC announced they have struck a big-time gridiron deal. Starting in 2014, the regular-season champs from both leagues will meet in a New Year's Day bowl game.

There's a good chance that one or both champions will be involved the four-team playoff that looms on college football's horizon.

But regardless of whether this Big 12-SEC bowl pits champs or runners-up or a combination of the two, this game is great news for the Big 12.

The SEC is the king of college football. Six consecutive national champions. Three of the past five Heisman Trophy winners. TV ratings and revenue streams that dwarf every other conference.

This is a league that gets to decide who gets on its dance card.

And now, the SEC picked the Big 12 for the last dance.

Apparently, acting Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas didn't spend these past few months playing shuffleboard.

He earned his salary with this deal alone.

“The creation of this game featuring the champions of the Big 12 and SEC will have tremendous resonance in college football,” Neinas said in a statement.

No doubt about that.

This is the kind of deal that signals to the college football world and, by extension, the college sports world that the Big 12 is alive and well. The SEC wouldn't have pulled the trigger on this if the Big 12 was a conference with one foot in the grave. It wouldn't have struck a deal with a dead duck. It wouldn't have allied itself with a league that could become a liability.

This is a time when the power conferences are building alliances. They know change is on the way. If you think that the new four-team playoff is just a pipe dream, check out SEC commissioner Mike Slive's comment from Friday's announcement.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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