College football's changing landscape became even more evident Friday when the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 Conference announced that their champions will meet in a bowl game provided they are not among the four teams in the impending playoff format.
The agreement begins with the 2014 season, which is the first year of the playoff, and is for five years.
"A new January bowl tradition is born," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "This new game will provide a great matchup between the two most successful conferences in the BCS era and will complement the exciting postseason atmosphere created by the new four-team model. Most importantly, it will provide our student-athletes, coaches and fans with an outstanding bowl experience."
If one or both of the league champs qualify for the playoff, another representative from the conference or conferences would be picked for the SEC-Big 12 pairing.
Every Bowl Championship Series title matchup since 2003 has included the SEC champion, the Big 12 champion or both. Champions from the SEC and Big 12 played for the BCS crown after the 2008 and '09 seasons, when Florida defeated Oklahoma and Alabama defeated Texas, so recent history dictates it is unlikely this new creation would contain two league champions.
Had a four-team playoff of LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford been in effect during the 2011 season, the SEC-Big 12 matchup would have been Arkansas vs. Kansas State. The Razorbacks defeated KSU's Wildcats in January's Cotton Bowl.
SEC and Big 12 officials are hoping the new bowl can produce a matchup to rival the Rose Bowl, which has been held for more than a century and historically has pitted teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences.
"What a great day for the Big 12," Kansas coach and former Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis told the Associated Press. "To be matched with the champion of the SEC places the two most successful conferences in the BCS era head to head. All Big 12 fans should be happy today."
Specific details, including how the host site of the matchup will be determined, will be announced later, according to a release sent by the SEC. The SEC champion has been tied to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and the Big 12 champion to the Fiesta Bowl near Phoenix in recent years, while the Cotton Bowl in Dallas has pitted teams from the two conferences since 1998.
"Our goal is to provide the fans across the country with a New Year's Day prime-time tradition," acting Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said. "This is a landmark agreement between two of the most successful football conferences during the BCS era to stage a postseason event.
"The creation of this game featuring the champions of the Big 12 and SEC will have tremendous resonance in college football."
In the 14-year history of the BCS, the SEC and Big 12 each has had 11 seasons with at least one member ranked among the top four in the final BCS standings. The SEC has had a record nine teams play for the BCS title, and the Big 12 is next with seven.