Tony Barnhart has a request.
Quick, Robin, to the comments!
If this is what passes for informed commentary when the selection committee gets together to ponder which schools should play in the national semi-finals, bring back the computers:
When asked at the Big Ten spring meetings whether having co-champions impacted the Big 12, Alvarez replied, “One of our main criteria is conference championship. You can’t give two teams in a conference the conference championship. You can’t give two teams credit for that.”
Alvarez said the Big 12 “didn’t have a champion, they had co-champions.”
What, it’s too hard for you to figure out which team was better if the Big 12 doesn’t provide a label?
I didn’t think it was possible to sympathize with Bob Bowlsby, but there it is.
Thanks, Barry. I can’t wait to hear your rationale when Notre Dame makes the pool of four.
I keep saying it’s inevitable that a college football playoff will have an impact on how the college football season is perceived. If you won’t take my word for it, take Nick Saban’s.
“All the attention, all the interest would be about the four teams in the playoffs, which is exactly what happened, which was great to be a part of.
“But what I was most fearful of is college football is unique. A lot of young men get a lot of positive self gratification from being able to go to a bowl game and that’s always been a special thing. That by having a playoff we would minimize the interest in other bowl games, which I think is sort of what happened and I hate to see that for college football.”
Or Jimbo Fisher’s.
“I’m worried winning the Orange Bowl doesn’t mean anything. When I was a kid … we still had a national champion but [the other bowls] still mattered. Now if you go 12-2 and win an Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl or Cotton Bowl or Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and you say that’s not enough? There’s something wrong with that now,” Fisher said. “When you’re 12-2 there’s not much better you can do. You might get over the hump [to the playoffs] but how many times?”
And think about how this mindset is manifesting itself in ways like the Big 12’s agonized struggle to crown a conference champ.
Which is why this Saban observation should give you pause for thought.
“The issue for me in all of this stuff is the culture of college football is changed,” he said before the Regions Tradition pro-am at Shoal Creek. “It’s no longer just about the SEC getting in the BCS bowl game. This is about a playoff. This is about a final four.”
In that spirit, he said all the major conferences should play with the same rules.
“So I think we need to be a little more global in our thinking in terms of making the rules in the Big 5 conferences kind of congruent with each other,” Saban said. “So if one group is going to be able to do it, the other group needs to be able to do it.”
That, folks, is a sweeping comment. And it’s the logical destination to the course that college football has set for itself in its chase for more money. Look at the CFP as the Transportation Department, coming in to widen the road, so the schools can get where they’re headed more quickly.
It’s how you convert a sport based strongly on regional appeal – SEC!SEC!SEC! – to a national focus. ESPN will love it. Me? Not so much.
But, again, don’t take my word for it.
Dennis Dodd has a story up that’s a clear indication that the eight-team playoff is a when, not if, situation. The interesting part is what the TCU head coach suggests for a new format:
TCU’s Gary Patterson — always ready with an opinion — suggested the quarterfinals begin in place of the conference championship games on that first Saturday in December.
“If you’re going to an eight-team playoff, you’re going to take the [conference] championship away,” he said. “And they’ll be OK with it because with eight teams that’s going to make up [financially] for the championship game anyway.”
Per Patterson’s suggestion, four quarterfinal games would be played (this year) on Saturday, Dec. 5. That would give coaches time to recruit and for players to take finals. The semifinals would then commence as they are now in that Dec. 31 – Jan. 1 window.
“You have to play the quarters early,” Patterson said. “Everybody has finals, everybody has stuff that is going on. If you have an early signing date, you’ve got to play it then.”
I think we can call that the “Up Yours, Jeff Long” proposal.
Sounds like Jeff Long, selection committee head, has a world view informed by Jeff Long, SEC AD:
What are your thoughts on divisions in conferences? The Big 12 doesn’t have them, the other power conferences do. You look at the contrast between the SEC West and the SEC East last season. Are they needed? Should conferences look a different direction on the matter?
Long: Everybody’s views are based on where they are. I think conferences need divisions. I can speak to my situation at Arkansas. I like a division because my fans want to see us battle for a West title. If we’re late in the season and we have a chance to battle for the West title, fans are more likely to come. I think this is in general as well. If you’ve fallen out of the West race, your numbers of no-shows for your tickets are going to increase. So if you just have one conference without a division, you’re going to fall out of contention earlier in that process. To me, from an AD’s point of view, I want to sell tickets, I want my stadium full because that’s a better environment for my student-athletes to hopefully win a game, the home-field advantage, all those things. I like divisions because I’m going to be in that hunt for a division title longer, that’s going to keep my fans engaged longer.
Currently not every conference has a championship game and not every conference plays the same amount of conference games. Ideally, do you feel it would it be best if every league played the same amount of conference games and they either all had a championship game or they all didn’t?
Long: In a perfect world, yes.
Could you envision a scenario where that could become possible somewhere down the road, maybe in five or 10 years?
Long: I think there would have to be more conference landscape changes for that to happen, from my point of view. Generally, broad statement, would I like to see that happen? Generally, I would. But college football is unique and I don’t think we all need to be homogenous. So I don’t have strong feelings about this conference or that conference must do this.
But it would be nice if the Big 12 did… for the selection committee.
If there’s one thing you can count on from college head coaches, it’s that they’ll never run out of nonsensical justifications for taking a stance out of naked self-interest.
Take Cal’s Sonny Dykes, for instance. The Pac-12 is that rare bird: a two-division conference that plays a nine-game conference schedule. That’s allowed Cal to keep its longstanding rivalries with two powerhouses in UCLA and USC. Evidently, that’s not something he relishes. But he can’t come out and just say that. Instead, he’s got to look around for… something… aha!
Dykes said he’s willing to sacrifice the tradition of playing long-time, in-state rivals USC and UCLA every year if that’s necessary to reduce the Pac-12 schedule to eight games in order to achieve consistency with other power conferences.
“I don’t think it would be my first choice. I don’t think it would be our fans’ first choice,” he said. “But something’s got to give. We just need to have some (nationwide) consistency.”
The Pac-12 and Big 12 play nine conference games, while the SEC, ACC and Big Ten play just eight, allowing them to schedule one more nonconference game of their choosing. The uneven playing field creates potential disparities when teams are selected for the College Football Playoff, which has huge financial implications.
By playing nine games, the Pac-12 has allowed schools to play each of the other five teams in their division, plus three from the other division on a rotating basis. But the annual games between Cal and Stanford and their southern California rivals have been preserved so far.
Screw what the fans want, or what Sonny wants. If we don’t get national consistency on this, the next thing you know we’ll have dogs and cats living together, or something. This isn’t about Dykes, people. He’s just offering a sacrifice to save college football from a looming crisis.
Or he could just be full of crap.
The good and bad of divisions? Spare me the bullshit, at least with regard to the latter.
For sure, Scott Stricklin does.
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin pointed out the SEC’s expansion to 14 teams — and not necessarily divisions — as the reason for some of the scheduling problems.
“When we made the decision to go to 14, there was no way around that,” he said. “Unless we’re going to play a 13-game schedule and all you play is the other 13 teams, you’re going to miss somebody, and there’s going to be some unfairness in the randomness of the schedule that is unavoidable. The division is not the cause of that. That’s the fact we have a 14-team league and we’re trying to play a 12-game schedule.”
It’s not rocket science, Joe Alleva.
But SEC athletic directors have not given much thought to the topic and have hardly talked about championship game deregulation. During their spring meetings next month, they will discuss the deregulation proposal for the first time.
“It’s not crazy. It’s something to think about,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said. “It hasn’t come up because the NCAA rule’s always been you had to [have divisions to have a championship game]. You have to change that rule.”
Have to, bitches. Have to. What’s the point to having divisions, if you’re not going to organize your championship game around them? Probably something to do with money… like everything else.
They’ll tell us it all for us fans. But it’s really about chasing a spot in the CFP.
“… For the good of the group and the good of the whole, that flexibility as the College Football Playoff evolves puts us in a good position,” Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said. “It makes us more nimble as a conference. We can stay the same and that’s great, and if we need to change, then we’d have the flexibility to do it.”
Awesome. Makes you wonder what they’ll come up with when the playoff field expands to eight.