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Football Playoff To Be A Big Focus At SEC Meetings

Next week in Destin, the SEC’s coaches, athletic directors and presidents will tackle the issue of football scheduling.  Basketball scheduling, too.  The word “expansion” — at least as it relates to the overall college landscape — will certainly be heard.  There will also be the annual collection of checks from the league office.

But you can expect to the new playoff system to take up a good deal of discussion time as well.  The who, the when, and the where will all likely be debated.  According to SEC associate commissioner and chief PR guru Charles Bloom (speaking to The Chattanooga Times Free Press):

 

“What’s going to take the day is discussion on the conference’s position on the four-team playoff.  The commissioners were charged with going back to their conferences, with each conference stating a position on their preference.  There will be a lot of discussion on that…

“The devil is in the details.  How do you fill it?  Who’s hosting it?  Is it inside the current BCS structure, or will it be separate bowls?  Is it a neutral-site bid or campus sites?  Is it conference champions only? All those items are up for discussion.”

 

Earlier this month the president at Nebraska suggested his fellow Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents might scuttle playoff talk altogether and instead vote in favor of a pure Plus-One game to be tacked on after the bowls.

Just last week, the SEC and Big 12 announced a partnership on a new bowl that — if nothing else — guarantees that the old BCS system will die by the 2014 season.  So even if the presidents hijack playoff plane, there will be no move back to the system Roy Kramer created.

Now there’s speculation that the big four leagues — and that’s currently the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and the recently revived Big 12 — might have just set up their own mini-playoff system.  That option is one of dozens now available, though it’s hard to imagine schools like Notre Dame and conferences like the ACC going being cast aside without a fight from lawyers and politicians.

Currently, we could wind up with…

 

* A four-team playoff featuring any conference champions ranked in the top five or six slots in the final poll (or whatever ranking system is used).

* A four-team playoff featuring the three highest-rated conference champions and a wild card team (if the top four aren’t all conference champs).

* A true Plus-One game that would just match the top-ranked teams after the bowls.

* A return to the old way of settling a champion — the polls.  If no one can reach a consensus and the BCS is dead, then it’s possible we could return to the days when conference champions and top-ranked teams just went to different bowls in different parts of the country.

 

We at MrSEC.com are in favor of a seeded Plus-One system that would use the existing bowls as semifinal games.  This would be a “plus one” because only one game would be added to the season, but it would still have a 1 versus 4 and 2 versus 3 set-up.  (If you read this site, you also know we’re in favor of just taking the four highest-rated teams in the nation… because eventually ratings will be used to determine the highest-ranked conference champions anyway.  If rankings must be used, they should be used to assign the top four teams their seeds.)

We do not believe a true Plus-One — just adding a game after the bowl — solves anything.  An unbeaten team might win its bowl and be rewarded by having to play a team with one loss.  After the bowls, if you’r the only unbeaten team, you should win the crown.  Also, what if three teams from three bowl all end their seasons undefeated.  Welcome to the BCS Part II.  Two spots, three teams, voters and computers give one team the shaft.

And we don’t believe — at least not yet — that the new Big 12-SEC alliance will help form a members-only playoff.  According to that theory, the Big 12 would add two more teams in order to hold a conference championship game.  The championship games of the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC would serve as de facto quarterfinals.  Then the Pac-12 and Big Ten champs would meet in the Rose Bowl (making it a national semifinal) while the winners of the SEC and Big 12 would do likewise in their own “Champions Bowl” (another semifinal).  At that point, the winners of the Rose and Champions would meet in a title game.

Hey, that sounds good.  But good luck getting that past the supporters of every non-SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 school in the country.  The threat of lawsuits and Congressional hearings would most definitely become reality under such a plan.

As you can see, there’s no easy answer.  So it’s probably wise for the SEC to block out plenty of time to debate this issue.  It likely won’t be settled for months, regardless of the June and July timelines that are currently being kicked around the internet.

 


5 comments
buddha22
buddha22

Whatever they decide, 4 teams is not enough...8 is the minimum to cover the best teams and 16 would be preferable.

WillieT
WillieT

I have my doubts regarding the time line for this thing to play out. Agreeing upon a plan will require quite a bit of arm twisting and back-room dealing and quite frankly, the positions staked out publicly by the various parties make one think those who will decide the fate of major college football ARE congress (Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, et. al.)! Getting agreement on anything will require some compromise and there are some personalities involved who clearly don't include the word in their vocabularies.

 

So, The BCS ends after the 2013 season contractually. Suppose no new agreement is reached? Suppose we return to the "old" system where every Bowl scrambles to create it's best match-up, no one trying to match #1 & #2 or any deeper.

With the new SEC/Big12 "bowl" (let's call it the "Thorn" bowl since it is clearly intended as a thorn in the side of Jim Delany) what could we expect to see?  The Rose would crown a champ of conference champs & the Thorn would crown a champ of conference champs. The polls could then decide if one of these two bowl champs was worthy of their trophy or if some team from a less powerful conference deserved it. Most years, there'd be little argument as to who ended the season #1. Some years, the title would be split. Some years there'd be controversy. It may even play into the SEC's favor to NOT have an agreement in place before the BCS dies. There are a lot of fans around that don't remember the chaos of the preBCS era.

 

 

RussH
RussH

The last answer might be the more realistic than we think. the winner of the champions bowl planing the winner of the rose bowl.  While you are correct that politicians would try and get involved, however I do not think they much to stand on.    As long as the the winner of the Champions/Rose Bowl would not automatically be awarded the national championship, I  cannot see that legislators would have much to stand on.  

 

Just because a major network would pay $$$$ for that game, does not mean that the other leagues are being hurt.  They can schedule all of the ACC/BE/MW bowl games they want and the same major networks could pay as much as they want for those games.

 

This is not much different that the scheduling alliance between the Big10/Pac12, it just takes it 1 step further.

 

 

JohnVol
JohnVol

 @RussH That would be unfair to the SEC and Big 12 teams, as they would have a more difficult semifinal every year.

RussH
RussH

 @JohnVol True, but that just makes the Sec/Big12 worth more $$$$.  The bigger the game, the more valuable it is to the TV markets.    And with the SEC/Big12 owning the bowl, instead of just being paid to play in the bowl, the game with the best teams is worth the most money.

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