Strike up the band. Ring the bells from here to the Swamp to the Coliseum. College football's playoff has arrived after more than a century of playing the game, which essentially means more than a century of clamoring for a playoff like every other major sport in America.
"This playoff is long overdue. It took some time to get to the right model, but I think we have found something that will only make college football better," Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said in a statement while on a Red Raiders alumni cruise in Rome. "This is a great day for our sport, and most importantly it will give us a national champion that is settled on the field."
Fans surely welcome the development, but for each conference's supporters and teams, a batch of new questions arises: How will this affect us, and how can we best take advantage of this new world in college football?
As we've mentioned before, the Big 12 likely had the least to gain and the least to lose of any conference in these discussions the past few months.
The league has had big success in the BCS era, reaching the title game seven times, more than any league but the SEC, though the Big 12 has gone just 2-5 in those appearances. The league's chances to place more than one team in a four-team playoff seem minimal at best, though it may occur once in awhile.
Where the Big 12 has the most to gain?
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex-based Cotton Bowl was squeezed out of the major-bowl rotation with the advent of the Bowl Alliance in 1995. It'll almost certainly be folded back into the rotation as one of the six bowl sites for the semifinal games when the new plan takes effect in 2014, with the championship game likely to be bid out to neutral sites.
When the Cotton Bowl got pushed out, so did the Big 12's chances of playing in a national title game within its footprint. Oklahoma had to play Florida and Florida State in national championship games in Miami. Texas had to try to take down USC at the nearby Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (it succeeded). Oklahoma had to walk inside a powder keg called the New Orleans Superdome to try to knock off LSU (it failed).
The Cotton Bowl released a terse statement in the wake of Tuesday evening's playoff news that surely brought smiles to plenty of Big 12 faces.
"It’s a great day for college football. We congratulate the conference commissioners and presidents for their diligent work to enhance the post season. We look forward to learning more about the opportunities that will be created by today’s announcement. With partners like AT&T and Cowboys Stadium, we believe we have a great story to tell."
Nobody wants to hear that story more than Texas, Oklahoma and the rest of the Big 12. The Cotton Bowl stepped under the big top three seasons ago when it moved from the State Fair of Texas fairgrounds in Dallas to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, ready to play its game at America's finest football cathedral.
The Big 12 will no longer have to worry about situations like 2011, when No. 3 Oklahoma State was pushed out of the national championship game in favor of eventual champion Alabama, who knocked off fellow SEC team LSU in a rematch of a 6-3 November rugby match.
That'll be nice, but nothing will be nicer for the Big 12 than getting a chance to suit up with everything on the line only a few hours from its campus, in a city full of its alumni.