Barton Simmons opines that Mike Gundy, in turning down the Tennessee job to stay at Oklahoma State, didn’t do himself any coaching favors. Arguing that Gundy would have an easier path to the CFP out of Tennessee, he reasons,
But for Gundy and other coaches around the country, the path to the playoffs shouldn’t deter them from an SEC jump. In fact, the path looks significantly tougher to get out of his own conference — the Big 12. The way the Big 12 schedules are constructed, Oklahoma State plays nine conference games, as opposed to the SEC’s eight. The SEC typically replaces that ninth game with an FCS-level team in what is effectively a bye week. The Big 12 schedules are all backloaded heavily with some of the conference’s most important games. If you’re fortunate enough to make it to the Big 12 Championship Game, you’re guaranteed to be facing a rematch, similar to what we’re seeing this year with Oklahoma being asked to beat TCU for the second time in a month in order to reach the playoff.
Additionally, the Big 12 has emerged as a much more balanced conference than the SEC. Aside from Kansas, every team in the conference is competitive and well-coached. If you exclude games involving Kansas, 75 percent of conference games in the Big 12 were within two scores. Contrast that with the SEC that has seen regular blowouts throughout the conference and currently has playoff contenders feasting on everyone from Vanderbilt to Tennessee to Arkansas. There’s certainly an up-cycle in store for some of those programs but right now, the weekly grind is more taxing in the Big 12 than the SEC.
The Big 12 is currently the only conference to be left out of two of the three College Football Playoffs. If TCU beats Oklahoma this weekend, it’s probably going to be three of the four. Meanwhile, Georgia has only played two competitive conference games all year and is one win away from the playoff…
Aside from the simple fact that three of the top teams in the SEC are in the CFP hunt and that Tennessee plays two of those three every season (and would be facing the third if it were in the SECCG), the job Gundy was considering is Tennessee. You can’t feast on yourself, genius.