“I don’t think there’s any question teams are going to have to play better schedules in order to get in this playoff. … If two teams are 11-1, then the committee will look at how they built that 11-1 record.”– Bill Hancock AJ-C, 12/17/14
Getting two teams shafted by the CFP selection committee doesn’t leave Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby with a lot of attractive options.
Option One is the course that’s already been charted, which is asking the NCAA to grant a waiver to its twelve-school requirement for a conference to host a championship game. The two problems with that? One is that it leaves a conference with a round-robin schedule – the fairest way to decide a conference winner – in the ludicrous position of scheduling a conference game when there’s a clear regular season champ. The second, of course, is the possibility of an upset in the championship game leaving the Big 12 on the outside of the playoffs looking in, just as it is now.
Option Two is heeding Hancock’s advice and beefing up non-conference scheduling. In response, Baylor says talk to the hand.
Option Three is what’s left if Options One and Two don’t click: conference expansion to gain access to a championship game. Problematic? Well, yeah.
“Right now, we’re distributing the largest amount of money to each of our members in any league in college athletics. I don’t know that our members are prepared to take a reduction in that distributable revenue. It’s certainly about TV sets. It’s certainly about recruiting. It’s certainly about the possibility of competitive implications in all of our sports, but particularly our high-profile sports. At the present time we have no strategy. We haven’t had any discussions around expansion. Our CEOs have said they like 10. I expect that we’ll be at 10 for a while. Could that change down the road? Sure it could… I don’t think we’re going to take a kneejerk reaction and think immediately about expansion just because on this occasion we got left out of the playoff.”
Good to see he’s ready. But even if he convinces his member schools to take a shave in the name of having a better crack at the playoffs, what other schools are they going to chase? Bowlsby indicates geography would be a big factor.
“We have one member in West Virginia that’s on the East Coast,” Bowlsby said. “We have to be mindful of their situation. If we took somebody in that was on the far West Coast it would certainly do a disservice to our member in West Virginia. As I mentioned earlier, it may be a different set of criteria to some of our members than it is to other members. As the commissioner, I certainly have to take all 10 institutions and their sensitivities into play.”
Helluva way to build a conference identity. But the committee doesn’t really care about that.