Big 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.