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Big XII Commish Talks Title Games, Playoffs, And Scheduling

gfx - they said itBig XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby opened up this week about all manner of college football issues, from conference championship games to the new playoff that’s coming in 2014.  SEC fans should take note.

Regarding the playoff selection committee, Bowlsby said:


“It will have a composition that includes people that are not on campuses or in conference offices.  There will be people with solid football backgrounds. How big it will be, it could be 16, it could be 18, it could be 24. We haven’t refined it to that point yet.

We have begun working around the metrics with which we’ll arm the members of that committee. It will be a lot more, obviously, than just taking the six or eight polls that are available to them and regurgitating what those things have to say. We need to work hard on formulating tools that will allow us to differentiate one good team from another good team.  It’s a process that cries out for the best thinkers we can get.”

What it means for the SEC:  Prepare yourself now for a major paradigm shift.  Bowlsby revealed nothing new in his statement, but it’s our belief a lot of football fans will still be surprised/outraged in 2014 if the top four ranked teams in the country aren’t invited into the new playoff.  The NCAA Tournament selection committee rendered college basketball’s polls moot many years ago, but football has been poll-centric since the first AP poll came out in 1934.  While computer formulas were added to the mix in 1998, human polls still carried much more weight in the BCS system.  That’s about to change.


Bowlsby on the selection and seeding process:


“In the end, how you get seeded, whether you access the tournament, often relies on who you play in the nonconference.  You don’t often have anything to say about who you play in the conference schedule, but you have everything to say about who play in your nonconference. If you’re the fifth-rated team and you’ve played nobody, there may be a sixth-rated team who played a representative schedule that gets bounced over the top of you (and into a better bowl).”

What it means for the SEC:  It’s time for tougher schedules.  Yeah, yeah, yeah… the SEC already plays the toughest schedule.  Ten Big Ten games can’t equal one SEC game.  We know the arguments.  We also know that SEC fans won’t be doing the picking at playoff time.  Those pickers will be people with their own biases.  There’s a chance — probably a very good chance — that they’ll want to invite four teams from four different leagues into the playoff.  Whether you think SEC teams’ schedules are the toughest in world won’t matter.  What will matter is convincing those people on the selection committee that SEC teams’ schedules are tough.

Bowlsby also alluded to potential scheduling partnerships with the ACC or SEC by saying they would “ensure our TV partners of good matches and also give us a little more strength in the nonconference schedule.”  As you’ve probably read here before, we believe the Big XII and SEC can solidify their positions as the top two football leagues in the country by partnering with each other.


Bowlsby also said that his league wants to see the NCAA do away with unnecessary rules regarding who can play a conference championship game, but that the Big XII isn’t planning one in its current incarnation:


“Take a look at the attendance on the conference championship games this year and take a look at the TV ratings.  They aren’t the kind of things that are going to invite you to take that up as a new business proposition.

(As for the NCAA’s rules on title games) if (a conference wants) a playoff between two high-ranked teams, that’s fine.  If it requires a playoff between the winners of two divisions, that’s fine.  But it shouldn’t have to be two six-team divisions.  It could be two five-team divisions.  It just seems like an obvious place where deregulation makes a lot of sense.”

What it means for the SEC:  We’re in favor of Mike Slive’s league moving to a nine-game conference schedule at some point and we believe eventually it will.  But if the league is determined to stand pat with an eight-game schedule, we’ve suggested and broken down a 6-2 plan based on schools’ most-played rivalries.  Such a plan would do away with divisions altogether and would open the door for the SEC to match its two highest-ranked teams against one another in Atlanta.  Obviously, we agree with Bowlsby that the NCAA should drop its requirements for league championship games.

As to the Big XII commissioner’s point that conference title games aren’t cash cows, well, that depends on the conference:


  Conference Title Game   2012 Paid Attendance   2012 TV Rating
  ACC (Charlotte)   64,778 (73,778 Capacity)   1.2 (2.0 Million)
  Big Ten (Indianapolis)   41,260 (70,000 Capacity)   2.9 (5.1 Million)
  Pac-12 (Palo Alto)   31,622 (50,000 Capacity)   3.0 (4.9 Million)
  SEC (Atlanta)   75,624 (71,228 Capacity)   9.8 (16.2 Million)


As you can see, there is one conference that makes money, gets television viewers, and makes way for standing-room-only customers with its championship game.




#1 - Many teams have non-conference games set up for years down the road.  He's saying that those contracts should now be scrapped due to the playoff research?


#2 - Along that line of thinking, are all conferences going to only have "X" number of non-conference games to make the playoff team determination fair?


#3 - Can the polls & whatever used in their judgement be fair in their measurements?  ex.:  We all know that the coaches poll ISN'T filled out by people who do NOT watch EVERY game.....& has a GREATER possibility of favoritism for/against certain schools just because of who they (schools) are despite what happens on the field.


Pretty well lays out how they will deny SEC 2 teams in 4 game playoff, regardless of record or poll standing.


@MrSEC Well, what is Darth Slive saying.....not much these days.....


 @SouthernBoiSB The key is to understand the new system and schedule accordingly.  If I were an AD, I would spend a lot of time considering the way the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee works.  That's the likely new model.  They typically put less stock in overall record and prefer instead to use RPI as the primary guideline.  They don't care about your conference, largely due to the proliferation of unbalanced schedules.  They do care about the games over which you have total control.  That means non-conference games.


It seems likely that future Top 4 teams will need to play good non-conference opponents, including at least one on the road, and come away with no more than one loss.  That loss, however, should not necessarily be seen as a deal breaker.


Ask yourself this.  What is more impressive, a 3 point loss at Oklahoma or a 30 point victory over New Mexico State at home?  Those are the questions the committee members will be trying to answer.  An undefeated team that beat NM State will likely be ranked in the polls ahead of a one-loss team that was beaten in Norman.  But who deserves to make the 4-team tournament?


If the one-loss team is Notre Dame and the undefeated team is Georgia, then it is unlikely that SEC membership will be enough to get the latter into the tournament, particularly if the Dogs got Florida at home and did not have to play Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M in that particular season (assuming 2012 competitive balance).


Continuing to use Georgia as an example, it seems to me that its 2013 schedule is almost where it will need to be in order to appeal to the selection committee.  Non-conference wins at Clemson and Georgia Tech would be impressive.  North Texas is a reasonable early season home non-conference opponent.  The weak link is Appalachian State.  Trade out that game for a home game with a New Big East or C-USA team, and you have a very high quality schedule.  Now all you have to do is win.





You've also got to consider who's going to be where.  Some posts are calling FSU & Clemson to the SEC.


& what does it take to make a non-conf. opponent "look good"?  Ex.:  Arkansas was, I believe, like #11 pre-season last year & look how they finished.  Just because somebody's hot now DOESN'T mean they'll be hot when you play them.


Also, you've got to factor in that some schools have yearly non-conf. games against other state schools (UGA/GT, USC/Clemson, UF/FSU, etc.).




I know it's just me & I personally love symmetry.  That's why I (know I do) live in a fantasy world where all conferences are set up identically with # teams/# conf. games/pods/etc..  As I stated in my earlier post:  make everybody equal, then the selection is easier to determine & we have a clearer answer as to who was(not) chosen & why.




Case in point with your own example:

"Ask yourself this.  What is more impressive, a 3 point loss at Oklahoma or a 30 point victory over New Mexico State at home?  Those are the questions the committee members will be trying to answer.  <b>An undefeated team that beat NM State will likely be ranked in the polls ahead of a one-loss team that was beaten in Norman.  But who deserves to make the 4-team tournament?</b>"


So, you're saying that polls aren't as good as what happens on the field.  Then again, that 3 point loss could drop you big-time in the polls.





"Schools will need to decide well in advance whether they're playing for a championship or merely a bowl bid.  Those that choose the former will need four good conference games."


Sooner or later, you're going to have it pretty much mapped out who is going to do what.  Take your example - Michigan.  Do you think by them playing UGA or Ole Miss will help them?  Greater odds say the Rebs are only going bowl hunting.

What I mean by that is will there be enough "championship" minded teams to play each other over "bowl" minded teams?


I know it ain't going to happen (like 98% it WON'T), but it would be nice to get an idea BEFORE 2014 to determine what is being decided upon so those non-conf. games can be scheduled!


Back to symmetry, how do you determine who's the better - a team that plays 3 or a team with 4 non-conf. games & why should that # be better?

Point I'm making is say Team A plays 9 conf. & 3 non-conf. games & goes 11-1 (9-0 in conf.) losing against a decent non-conf. team.  Team B plays 8 conf. games & goes 11-1 (8-0 in conf.) & loses to a good non-conf. team.  Will "B" get the nod because of their loss..........or will A complain that they had a better season because they played an additional conf. game & went undefeated in it?


 @SouthernBoiSB The Arkansas example is a good one.  What I'm trying to say is that schools with title aspirations will need to schedule up.  It isn't going to be good enough to count on conference schedules or a single rivalry game out of conference.  If Michigan goes 11-1 and its best non-conference win is over, say, a 7-5 Notre Dame team, then it had better not gripe when it's left out of the 4 team playoff.


Schools will need to decide well in advance whether they're playing for a championship or merely a bowl bid.  Those that choose the former will need four good conference games.  Those that choose the latter might prefer to schedule down in order to get six wins.  What's good for Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, and LSU might not be appropriate for Minnesota, Northwestern, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.


I don't expect symmetry, but I also don't want to hear complaints from say, South Carolina, if it goes 11-1, loses the East in its single loss to Florida in Gainesville, and beats a 6-win Clemson team along with schools from the Sun Belt, C-USA, and SoCon in its non-conference slate.  The committee will rightly point out that the Gamecocks should have known that Clemson alone was not going to be enough to get it done.


The calculus is going to change.  ADs and coaches need to anticipate that and adapt to it.  They should look at the basketball tournament selection committee and use its processes as a template.

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