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Playoff plan more good news for WVU

WHEN West Virginia unceremoniously split from the Big East, there was criticism from many quarters on the way the Mountaineers bolted. Including from here.

Today, however, more than ever, it appears the move - at least from a financial angle - was an outstanding one.

We've broken down the revenue sharing for the Big 12, WVU's new home, in the past. For the 2011-12 school year each Big 12 school received $19 million. That was before television contract extensions with ABC/ESPN and Fox kick in.

West Virginia had to pay $20 million to exit its old conference, but is expected to make more as a Big 12 50-percent partner in the coming year (shares will rise for the next four years) than as a full Big East member. The Mountaineers' share from the Big East (which the conference will keep as part of a settlement) was expected to be $9 million. A 50-percent share of a Big 12 will be at least $9.5 million.

The topic here, however, centers on the news of the proposed college football playoff system, expected to be approved this week by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.

The announcement was great news for those of us who have been calling for a playoff. Perfect? No, but a very nice first step.

Oddly, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced the proposal. (So much for the Fighting Irish being forced to join a conference.) The playoff will only consist of four teams, and schools will continue to bend over backwards to protect bowls. (The semifinals will rotate between the Fiesta, Sugar, Rose and Orange.)

But within the announcement bubbled more good news for WVU. (Not the case for Marshall.)

The Mountaineers will be winners in the deal because of their alignment with the Big 12. See, the new setup is expected to reap at least double what the BCS leagues earned ($145.2 million) this past year.

And the revenue from the new deal, set to begin in 2014, will reportedly be split based on league's past performances based on Top 25 finishes.

That should prove a bonanza for the top four conferences - the Southeastern, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 - as well as the ACC.

Estimates have each of those five leagues earning in the neighborhood of $50 million per year. As the Big 12 stands, that's an appetizing $5 million slice of pie for each league team.

Not only that, more will be earned by conferences that qualify teams in the semifinals. The Big 12 will certainly do that on a regular basis.

It's expected to create a wider chasm between the haves and the have-nots of college football. WVU is with the haves. Conferences like the Big East, no longer considered elite, and Marshall's Conference USA might make more money, but the percentage of increase won't be close to that of the power leagues.

Keep in mind WVU won't receive a full share of Big 12 revenue until the 2015-16 school year. But that's only a year after the new playoff deal is set to begin.

In other words, it was a sound financial move for WVU to move as quickly as possible into the Big 12. The school will recoup the money lost exiting the Big East in record time.

And the new playoff deal will certainly help.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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