Recently, SportingNews.com asked SEC commissioner Mike Slive what type of information the selection committee for the new College Football Playoff will use to determine who gets in and who’s left out. According to Slive:
“It will be a combination of metrics and opinion. I think about my experience on the basketball committee, and there are two components. The subjective eyeball test where you see teams play and form opinions about the quality of the teams, and then there’s the objective data. One of the challenges we will have will be to create metrics; measuring devices that can supplement the eyeball test. Trying to get computer programs and metrics and bring technology to the selection committee like we have it in the basketball committee.”
One of the metrics used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee is strength of schedule. And as the SEC office went to great lengths to explain at this year’s SEC meetings in Destin, one school’s schedule impacts the strength of schedule rankings for all its conference brethren. That’s because the basketball strength of schedule formula factors in not only a team’s opponents, but also its opponents’ opponents.
If football’s power brokers decide to create and use a similar formula for their selection committee, one commonly-used argument against a nine-game SEC slate could go right out the window. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and a few other coaches have stated that schools in the running for a national title can put together as difficult a schedule as they like with four openings for non-conference games. Likewise, schools trying to build their programs can take an easier approach with their four non-con games if they so desire.
True enough. But if opponents’ opponents matter in football as they do in basketball, a school that tried to schedule three or four guaranteed non-conference wins could actually cost a rival that’s battling for a playoff berth… and cost the league millions of dollars… and by default cost itself a share of those millions.
Yesterday we showed the recent non-conference scheduling habits of all 14 SEC football programs. When schools like Ole Miss and Mississippi State line up just two games a piece against BCS-level competition in a five-year span, it could potentially hurt the strength of schedule score for Alabama, LSU, or another SEC national title challenger.
For that reason, if the league does not eventually go to a nine-game schedule, the home office simply must get more involved as its teams set up their non-conference schedules. Wisely, with an eight-game slate still the law of the land, Slive reportedly made it clear to each school in Destin that playing 10 quality foes per year should be the goal.
Depending on the type of metrics used by the College Football Playoff selection committee, 10 quality foes could go from a “goal” to a necessity overnight.