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Plus-One System Sounding More And More Like A “Take Down The SEC” System

It looks like Southeastern Conference football fans who’ve been hoping for some form of college football playoff system will soon be getting their wish.  But the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” might apply.

When Alabama and LSU were locked in to play in this year’s BCS Championship Game the stage was set for change.  The SEC had simply gotten too powerful for other leagues to stomach.

First, Big 12 interim commish Chuck Neinas said a Plus One system needed to be discussed.  Then word leaked from the Big Ten that Jim Delany — long an anti-playoff guy — was suddenly considering a four-team system that would feature semifinals played at campus locations and a title game played at a neutral site.

Last week 11 conference commissioners and the AD at Notre Dame met to further discuss possible replacements for the BCS when it runs its course in 2014.  By the end of the week, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott had given his support to the Big Ten’s four-team, on-campus semifinal plan.

“There’s a reason that in the NFL they only play the Super Bowl as a neutral site game,” Scott said.  “There’s a reason they play playoffs and AFC and NFC championships with home hosting.”

In addition, Scott spoke of just who might be invited to take part in such a four-team system.  “What more clear way to have intellectual consistency with the idea of a playoff than to earn it as a conference champion?  It would de-emphasize the highly subjective polls that are based on a coach and media voting and a few computers.”  (Scott doesn’t mention if polls or computers will be used to determine which conference champions get to play.)

Add it all up and it looks like there will be two voting blocs when it comes to choosing the new system.

One group — made up of at least Pac-12 and Big Ten officials — will champion a four-team, seeded Plus One system that will feature the higher-seeded teams hosting semifinal games, with only the championship game put up for bid.  This group will want only conference champions involved so a league like the SEC won’t be able to land two or even three teams in the final four-team mix.  Ironically, former SEC commish and BCS founder Roy Kramer pushed the “champs only” idea just last week.

The second group will — we imagine — be driven by the SEC’s current commissioner, Mike Slive.  As the Grand Poobah of a league that entered the final week of the regular season with the top three teams in the BCS standings, he might no be so keen on a one-team-per-league cap.  After all in 14 years of BCS play, 10 times a team that did not win its conference did wind up in the top four of the BCS standings.  This group will likely also fight to keep a new Plus One system anchored to the existing bowl games in some form or fashion.  Good Southern weather never hurt anybody, ya know.

So which bloc will gain the most support?  What compromises are there to be made and which side is best equipped to present them and get them passed?

For now, stay tuned.

But it sure seems that this whole Plus One plan is actually a take-down-the-SEC plan.  And its structure, location and composition may all be designed with that very goal in mind.

 


23 comments
DRU2012
DRU2012

Hey "Dave..."--most folks here AGREE that a "Conference Champion"-based set-up would be stupid--and UNACCEPTABLE to the SEC...Indeed, it is almost certainly aimed at cutting SEC-access to end-of-season representation in any Championship-scenario.  ANY play-off format that includes Conference-Champions would have to FIRST, require that it include only those MAJOR Conferences that play an inter-divisional Championship Game themselves, and SECOND, said playoff format would ALSO have to include places for several "at-large" teams that did NOT win a Conference Championship, but were nonetheless ranked high enough to be within the playoff "cut-off" point.  

For example, an 8-team playoff format might include the Conference Championship winners from 4 or 5 designated "Major Conferences", and the remaining 3 or 4 spots filled by the the highest-ranked (according to the final BCS-rankings) schools that were NOT Conference winners, regardless of where they play.  The opening round, then, could be the 4 major BCS-Bowls (Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Rose)--using the BCS-rankings, #1 plays #8, #2 plays #7, and so on--the 4 that come out of these play 2 games the following weekend (still using the final rankings to set match-ups) and probably played at the higher ranked-team's home stadium (one more way to keep the regular season highly-valued), leaving the 2 participants in a "true, decided-on-the-field National Championship", played the following week in a HUGE game (also a home game to the highest-ranked, or played on the neutral site of a "highest bidder"?).

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

Go watch the NFL if playoffs mean that much to you. An 8 team conference championship/division winner model would have put Clemson IN and Alabama OUT. That's beyond STUPID. Whatever you thought about Alabama-LSU, you cannot ignore the fact that Alabama was, without any doubt whatsoever, one of the 3 best teams in the country last year by the end of the regular season. Wisconsin would have been in a conference champion Plus 1 last year - ranked #10 in the country. Yes, they were a couple of pass plays from undefeated. They were also lucky that the Penn State-Nebraska game was played the week of the Paterno scandal, because otherwise PSU wins that game and wins Wisconsin's division.

 

If the 4 best teams are in the SEC, then that's your playoff -  the rest of the country needs to suck it up and learn to play defense. Michigan can get things started against Alabama in their opener next season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus2Plan
Plus2Plan

As I'm sure you know, when two sides are butting heads on an issue, compromise is usually the best policy.

 

And so it is with the selection criteria for a four-team playoff.

 

One side says to only let in conference champions. This is a bad idea for two reasons: it occasionally leaves out deserving teams and it occasionally lets in undeserving teams. Stew's recent column did a good job pointing this out.

 

But letting in strictly the top four no matter what has its own problems. First is the general concern about not valuing conference championships as highly (which I think is weak at best). Second, and more important, is the fact that sometimes just taking the top four teams lets in a team that's less deserving.

 

Let's let the 2011 season illustrate all these points. Under a conference champs-only rule, #2 Alabama would have been left out, but #10 Wisconsin included. Under a strict top 4, #5 Oregon, who won the PAC 12 and beat #4 Stanford, would have been left out in favor of Stanford, who didn't win their conference.

 

BUT WAIT: a happy middle ground exists! Let in the top two teams NO MATTER WHAT. Just like the current BCS. Then, let the two lower seeds be filled by the two next-highest teams that are conference champions. This solves both problems.

 

Any team in the top two unquestionably deserves inclusion in any playoff field, so #1 and #2 are in. Most of the time they are conference champions, anyway. But the lower half of the bracket lends weight to winning your conference.

 

In 2011: LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, and Oregon would make the field. Perfect.

 

How the rest of the BCS era would shake out is outlined here: http://www.plus2plan.com/history.php

RussH
RussH

I have looked the plan and I do not see anything different with it than just the top 4 conference winners.  The ONLY time would be when #2 did not win their conference which is very very rare.

 

I would be willing to have the top 3 conference winners and then the top at large team, but limiting the way in to just #2 is not ideal.

 

If anything your plan is just reenforcing that we really need 8 teams.

Plus2Plan
Plus2Plan

@RussH Clearly you didn't read the plan carefully, because that's not true.

DRU2012
DRU2012

Alright:  So we all "get" that this is a set-up, another attempt by the NCAA to appear that they are "tweaking the system in response to valid concerns"--but in reality, a minimal adjustment in a further bid to retain POWER...and to somehow cut back SEC-dominance  in-the-process, if they can.

Clear, well-reasoned arguments AND evidence has been presented here to back it all up, too...

Thing is, What do WE do to STOP this?  I believe that ultimately, we are going to have to at least be prepared to walk away from the NCAA entirely.  Not today or tomorrow, but when the time comes that we have to come to some kind of "arrangement" with other major programs in the other major Conferences ANYWAY, we'd be wise to make it count for something BIG--ie.  a whole reorganization of the 48-to-64 programs who field football teams that stand apart from the rest, a "Major College Football Championship Association (MCFCA)", with a 6- or 8-team playoff system that can include the current 4 "major Bowls", if they go along (their mistake, if they don't).  We can all completely reorganize the way in which college players are treated and compensated as central-components in a huge, ongoing revenue-producing enterprise at that time, too--something that is long overdue, and completely closed off to members of the NCAA until now (and for the foreseeable future).

In the mean time, we should dig in our heels and resist giving ground on ANYTHING that limits our teams' access to Bowl games, BCS- and/or Nat'l Championship--starting with this "Conference Champs Only" BS--for all of these reasons and a dozen more, we go for a better deal.  

WillieT
WillieT

The SEC won't be negotiating from a position of strength. As the apparent two camps square off, of the issues you described, holding firm on choosing the 4 best teams, regardless of conference, should be the "line in the sand"

 

I know the existing bowls and their maffia, I mean respective committees, have shoveled a lot of serious cash into key influential pockets over the years but it's time to look forward, to where the cash will come from rather than backward. 

 

I agree, going to an 8-team playoff is not going to happen this time. Just too much for the powers-that-be to swallow.  So we get a 4 team playoff. Either form a selection committee - like used in basketball, or keep the BCS formula and pick the top 4. Yes, # 5 may have an argument from time to time but it's a bit more muted than the current system where #3 can get screwed.

 

Allowing only conference champions (obviously with some special ND rule inserted) would lead to another farce of a game. Withe the Pac12/B1G10 pact to play with each other, oops. play each other, one or the other will end up with a conference champ (let's assume B1G10) that barely won it's conference while loosing say 2 non conference games, finishing 7-6 (after the conference championship game). Meanwhile, and let's ignore the SEC for a moment and stick with the aforementioned conferences, you have a team from the PAC12 that finished 12-1, loosing in the championship game, who beat both of the teams that played in the B1G10 championship game.  But that PAC12 team doesn't make the final four because they didn't win their conference.  Could it happen? absolutely.

farmerl21
farmerl21

Lets use last year as an example had a 6-6 UCLA team beaten Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game than UCLA would have been in line ahead of Alabama and Stanford as conference champions. Also the Big East co-champions Louisville lost to FIU and Cincinnati lost to Tennessee by more than 20. Notre Dame can schedule whomever they want and they don't have to play in a conference championship game. If they are only going to allow conference champions then Notre Dame should be forced to join a conference.

MoKelly
MoKelly

Conference champions only make sense if all Conferences are all equal. Not the case and never will be the case. The Big 10 and PAC 12 know they are well behind the SEC and will have a very hard time making up ground. So, they (a) create a "relationship" to play games between their conferences and (b)  push a playoff system where only conference champions play. It is clear to me --- if you can't beat someone on the field of play, beat them via politics and rule setting. I hope the SEC can fight this "idea".

RussH
RussH

I find it absolutly amazing that they say things like

"We want to make the regular season mean something"

in the same breath "We only want conference champions in the final 4" 

 

Which is it? 

 

Want to make that LSU/Oregon game meaningless, you just did. 

No non-conference games will have ANY MEANING at all.

 

Less meaning than taking the top16 into a playoff tourney.

 

For that reason, at most, I see the top 3 conference champs (and yes, the big 12 would have to have 12 teams and a CCG) and an at-large bid.

 

End goal for logic, is still top 5 conference champs and 3 at large bids.

David
David

I agree with everything said here. 

 

The bottom line is that the SEC is a better league than any of the others, something we've seen not just over the last six years but throughout the BCS history. Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Florida have all won BCS titles since 1998. That's damn near half the league in the last 14 years, and some of them have won it twice! So it's not like the Pac-12 where it's a one team show.

 

Although Slive may not get his way on the whole "conference champions only" argument, I don't think it will really matter. The best team in the SEC will beat the champion of any other conference, as we've seen time and again. I would love nothing more than to watch some juggernaut like Alabama or Florida or Tennessee or whoever roll up to Columbus and just beat the holy hell out of Ohio State.

 

MJW
MJW

So figuring no one will get exactly what they want, and after the compromises are made by all parties, I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this: Top 2 teams plus any independent in top 4 plus highest ranked conference champs to get 4 total. Semi's hosted by any independent in top 2 plus/or highest ranked conference champs. In 2011 this would have been Oregon @ LSU and Alabama @ Oklahoma St. One game on Dec 22nd, one on the 23rd. CG two weeks later.

Plus2Plan
Plus2Plan

 @MJW Sounds like you would enjoy the Plus-Two Plan: www.plus2plan.com and on twitter: @plus2plan 

MJW
MJW

Even with the champion of champions concept, the SEC would have hosted more semi-final games than any other conference (8 by my count) during the BCS era, and had 4 SEC champs play on the road, only once to a team up north (OSU in 2002). The other 3 road trips would have been Florida State, Oklahoma, and USC. Also, the SEC has only had 3 non-conf champs finish in the BCS top 4, the same number as the PAC-12, and 2 fewer than the Big-12. Why again is this proposal designed to take down the SEC?

Hunker Down
Hunker Down

Unless we're talking about-semi finals played the week after conference championship games which leaves room for the old bowl tie-ins there' s no way the Big10 would completely give up the Rose Bowl like this. Sure there have been a few non-Big 10 Rose Bowl's since the beginning of the BCS, but essentially their invite has remained intact. Maybe I've listened to too much Bob Seger, but I've always gotten the impression that Midwesterners hate where they're from and wish they could be on the West Coast and that the Rose Bowl is somehow a symbol of the life they wish they could have. Replacing the Rose Bowl with a January semi-final in Columbus or Madison would destroy these people.

safety guy
safety guy

What they are proposing is a joke.  What if 5 conference champs plus ND are undefeated.  Who do you pick.  No real difference than what it is now, except you have 2 more teams.  Completely unfair and  will lead to congress getting involved.

 

Really only 2 options here.  Have an 8 team tournament with 5 conference champions (Pac, Big 12, Big 10, ACC, SEC) and 3 wild card teams, 3 highest rated teams in a BCS style system.  Seed the teams and have 3 weeks of games.

 

Second option is to realign into four 16 team conferences.  Then have the 4 conference champs play in a season ending tournament.  The only complaint will be the teams left out of 64 teams in the conferences.  But that can be overcome with money.

 

People dont seem to get it.  You have to reward the major conference champs to keep the regular season relevant and encourage quality non conference schedules.  Right now, the system rewards weak non conference schedules - just look at Oregon and Stanford last year. Oregon got penalized for playing LSU.

 

Having an 8 team tournament will reward the 5 major conference champs plus the next best 3 teams - as fair as you can make it.  If they have to only have 4 teams then the best thing is to go to a football only four team 16 team conference setup.

farmerl21
farmerl21 like.author.displayName 1 Like

With this format the conference games will mean a lot more than the out of conference games. I believe that could lead to scheduling of even weaker out of conference opponents. If there are two teams in the SEC with a higher ranking, a stronger strength of schedule, and better overall record than the other conference champions the SEC team should get the nod. The emphasis should be on the top 4 teams and not conference winners. The strength of conferences can change from year to year and limiting the SEC to just 1 team is a joke and should not be taken seriously.

DRU2012
DRU2012

Had to figure THAT would be the only way certain "powers-that-be" would shift their opposition...THEY are not interested in "the best teams having a chance to settle things on the field"--otherwise a REAL playoff system, one at LEAST involving 4 teams coming OUT of the "major Bowls" would have gotten set up years ago.  No, this isn't going to be set up in anyway ANYONE in the SEC, from where a handful of the best teams in the land will be emerging each season for years to come, is going to like or find fair.  Count on it.

Brazos
Brazos

Absolutely tat is what the plan is and if any of us were sitting in Jim Delaney or Larry Scott's seat that the position that we would be taking.  They have a fiduciary responsibility to their leagues.  Their job is to advance the financial and prominence of their respective leagues, even if that's not what's fair.  That's exactly what Slive is doing as well, except he is advocating the fair proposition but only because that is what is best for the SEC.  If you are a leader of a company, a country or a sport league, you're job is to look out for the best interest of your shareholders/constituents/members, even if it means handicapping the competition.  That's what American foreign policy has been almost since it's inception.  

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

It all comes down to ESPN. If they think a "conference champion" model will generate the biggest ratings, then that's what they will pay for. That's why they are wrangling over media consultants. Delany and Slive both want their guy interpreting the numbers and setting up media negotiations.

Fayettechill14
Fayettechill14 like.author.displayName 1 Like

If it's going to be a "conference champs only" rule, then the SEC honestly needs to split into two conferences. Not that I'm advocating that, but after LSU and Oklahoma State, who belongs this year?

 

-Oregon, who was pounded by LSU and lost at home to USC?

-Wisconsin, who lost to Michigan State and 6-7 Ohio State?

-Clemson, who was destroyed by South Carolina and NC State?

 

The proposed model wouldn't work at all for 2011, so why apply it to the future?

seanbo
seanbo

Of course it's about taking down the SEC.  B1G, PAC and Texas (errrr, the Big XII) wasn't the least bit interested in a playoff in 2008 when Slive first spoke of Plus 1, now that the SEC has won every year since then, they have to do something about that especially now the the SEC is producing BOTH participants.  The only problem for the B1G, PAC and Texas (errrr, the Big XII) is that one of them will get to the championship game but they will still have to play a SEC team for the title.  If I'm Slive, I don't allow the on campus games.  One thing you don't want is an SEC playing in Los Angeles against USC with a B1G officiating crew or playing in Columbus, OH with a PAC crew.

AndrewMartin
AndrewMartin like.author.displayName 1 Like

Don't forget the Pac-12 and Big 10 kicker on top of this -- the Rose Bowl.  They will try to lock in their top 2 teams that don't make the playoffs into the Rose Bowl.  The Rose Bowl monopoly on top of "conference champions" only for the playoff system gives these two conferences the leg up on everyone else.  No wonder they both stayed pat at 12 teams.  ACC, SEC and Big XII should tell the Pac-12 and Big 10 to pound sand. 

 

That said, I would be fine with an 8 team playoff with conference champions automatically making the playoff and a couple at large teams in the mix. 

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Plus-one system sounds more and more like a take down the SEC system [...]

  2. [...] By John Pennington, Mr. SEC: It looks like Southeastern Conference football fans who’ve been hoping for some form of college football playoff system will soon be getting their wish. But the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” might apply. When Alabama and LSU were locked in to play in this year’s BCS Championship Game the stage was set for change. The SEC had simply gotten too powerful for other leagues to stomach. First, Big 12 interim commish Chuck Neinas said a Plus One system needed to be discussed. Then word leaked from the Big Ten that Jim Delany — long an anti-playoff guy — was suddenly considering a four-team system that would feature semifinals played at campus locations and a title game played at a neutral site. Last week 11 conference commissioners and the AD at Notre Dame met to further discuss possible replacements for the BCS when it runs its course in 2014. [More] [...]

  3. [...] in what appears to be another goal of Scott here – to make sure that the SEC doesn’t crowd out the other big conferences at the plus-one table – and you’ve got a recipe for bracket creep stew.  It’s [...]

  4. [...] Big Ten that Delany and company liked the idea of on-campus semifinal games.Last week we wrote that the fight over a new plan would likely break down along Big Ten/Pac-12 versus SEC.  Whichever group grabs the most support from other conference commissioners will see the playoff [...]



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