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Is A Truly Unbiased Playoff Selection Committee Starting To Take Shape? Fugetaboutit

gfx - honest opinionNow that the bowl games and dates have been chosen for a new college football playoff…

Now that that college football playoff has been officially named the “College Football Playoff”…

Now that the rotation of bowls has been selected and the automatic bids lined up…

The last major hurdle before college football’s power brokers is the creation of a selection committee.  A selection committee that has to be viewed as fair and impartial.

Exactly.  It’ll never happen.

But with the a fair, impartial selection committee as a goal, Bill Hancock — the new playoff’s executive director — is looking for suggestions.  Present in Destin, Hancock said, “We need people with the courage to make difficult decisions.”  He’s requested that all of the FBS conferences forward him names of potential panel members.  The SEC answered the call yesterday.

Georgia AD Greg McGarity said that he had submitted “one or two” names.  Florida AD Jeremy Foley said that he put two names in the hat.

Hancock and his fellow decision-makers hope to have a list of about 100 candidates from which to choose 12 to 20 committee members.  According to various sources and reports, sitting conference commissioners will not be allowed on the committee (though they are part of the NCAA Tournament selection committee).  Current media members will not be invited to take part, either.  Hancock said that current “athletic directors are eligible now, but that could change.”

McGarity said that he “looked for someone who had coached the game before, played the game before, people of high integrity and honest, who wouldn’t be a homer, obviously.”  Foley said that he, too, believes “the integrity and the credibility” are key elements in finding the right panelists.

LSU’s Les Miles also weighed in on the topic, saying: “I think past athletic directors, old coaches and old players — but guys who are really for the college experience — is the way to go.  They’ll be able to do the job without reflection on where they’re from.  The problem with current coaches and current athletic directors is they all have a bias.  And it’s impossible to remove it from them.”

I’ve got bad news for McGarity, Foley and Miles: Whoever lands on the committee will have biases.  There is no way around that fact.  And even if there were — even if the people on the panel were completely objective and totally free of any and all biases — fans of teams not invited to the playoff will believe and shout that bias did indeed play a role in locking their team out.

If you ask me, it’s really quite amazing that intelligent people who are currently running athletic departments and conferences actually believe they can put together a panel that fans will accept as being unbiased and fair.  That is just not going to happen.  I applaud the effort, but if you thought there were conspiracy theories swirling around the BCS… you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Slive Opens Up About Playoff, Scheduling, “Super-Division”

mike-slive-smileSEC commissioner Mike Slive will appear before the media on Thursday — along with ESPN representatives — to finally shed more light on the soon-to-come SEC Network.  Yesterday, he met with Associated Press Sports Editors Southeast members and opened up about just about everything else currently making news.  You can read more on his Q&A session here (or here, here and here).


Topic:  Playoff selection committee


“We want a committee that has football expertise.  We want integrity, and we want transparency, because this is our opportunity to make sure that not only are we comfortable but you’re (the media) comfortable and all the fans are comfortable that this process is the way it should be.  It’s not going to be easy…

When you come into the committee as a member of the basketball committee, the concept is you leave your hat at the door.  If you come in and you’re there to represent football and what’s in the best interest of football, what’s in the best interest of the playoffs.  There’s a foundational culture from which we can work.  Now we need to adjust it to football and the fact that we’re not picking 68 teams, we’re picking four.”

Our Take:  What’s transparent to one might not be transparent to another.  Take the NCAA Tournament selection committee, for example.  Each year the NCAA hosts a short mock selection session with media from across the country to explain their process.  And after the field is chosen each year, the head of the committee does a couple of quickie interviews with CBS/Turner and ESPN.  Yet many still are left scratching their heads about why Team X got in over Team Y.  In the end, the NCAA makes the basketball process about as transparent as possible, but questions remain.  Can the FBS presidents — remember, it’s not the NCAA that’s putting this playoff together — come up with a more transparent manner of picking the four teams for their system?


Topic:  Multiple teams from the same conference getting playoff bids


“It was an important piece.  It took us about a year to put all this together, and one of the foundational pieces of it was that there wouldn’t be a limit.  We’re looking for the best teams to play in the playoff.  We didn’t want to create (an) artificial limit.  That was basically an artificial limit in the old system.”

Our Take:  The ability to put two or three or, technically, even four teams from the same league into the playoffs makes sense.  But that doesn’t mean it will happen.  As we’ve noted in the past, the playoff came about as soon as two SEC teams met in the BCS title game.  There is “SEC fatigue” across the country and it’s still possible — we believe very possible when you factor in human motivations — that a deserving SEC team could be blocked from the playoff in favor of a good team from another conference/region… just for the sake of inviting someone from another conference/region.


Topic:  The ACC’s grant of rights agreement


“Looking at it from the outside looking in, it looks like it may create some stability.  And I do think at this stage of where we are stability will be constructive so we can move ahead in some other ways.”

Our Take:  As we reported numerous times, the SEC was not going to be the league making the next expansion move.  The SEC’s presidents want to fully absorb Missouri and Texas A&M, count the benefits and drawbacks, and then — if forced — look at further moves.  If the ACC and Big XII grant of rights are as ironclad as advertised, then men Slive and most of his fellow presidents can kick the expansion can down the road to the SEC’s next generation of leaders.


Topic:  The creation of a new “super-division” of the richest programs within the NCAA


“When there are certain things that many of us would like to come into play, it’s our hope that those things can all occur in the current system.  Obviously, if things like that don’t get accomplished, then it may be appropriate to talk about some alternative or division or something like that.  But that’s not our desire.  That’s not our goal and that’s not something we’re trying to get to.”

Our Take:  But “they” are trying to push for “certain things” within the NCAA structure.  While the ultimate goal might not be what we’ve tabbed a “super-division” of 70-80 schools, we still believe that is the most likely outcome.  A breakaway from the NCAA just isn’t feasible and not every school in the current FBS can afford the “certain things” — ie: full-cost-of-tuition scholarships or stipends for athletes — that the big boys can afford.  We still firmly believe that a new division will be created within the NCAA to accommodate the wealthiest athletic programs.


Topic:  A $2,000 stipend for athletes


“It’s a disappointment that it’s not taken care of yet.  We truly believe that we ought to do more for our student-athletes than just the room, board, books and tuition.  We’re hopeful that we can continue to make that work… I think it’s fair to say it’s an idea that’s not going to do away.”

Our Take:  Read our take above.  Again, it’s very clear that the biggest schools want to offer more cash to athletes and most schools can’t afford it.  The line between those haves and have-nots will eventually serve as the lowermost boundary of a new “super-division.”

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As Opposition To Stipends Increases, So Too Do The Chances Of A New Subdivision In College Sports

chasmIf you read this site often you know that we believe the top 70-80 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision will eventually create their own “super division” of college athletics.  The biggest schools in the biggest conferences are already pushing for the right to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships to their athletes.  The commissioners of the biggest, wealthiest conferences are behind the idea.  Embattled NCAA president Mark Emmert is as well.

But according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the divide between those who want to increase student stipends and those who don’t — or those who can’t afford to — is widening:


“In some ways, the issue has become a referendum on Mr. Emmert, whose attempts to get things done quickly have alienated certain factions.

‘There are some people who will oppose anything he supports, and that’s unfair,’ says Sidney A. McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University.  As head of the NCAA Student-Athlete Well-Being Working Group, Mr. McPhee has become chief arbiter of the stipend debate.

The issue has driven a wedge through an already divided Division I.  Some institutions, including those that don’t compete in football at the highest levels, say they simply don’t have the revenue to offset the added costs.  Others worry that making additional payments to players—no matter how small, and for whatever reason—threatens the amateur model.

Such opposition is one reason some of the wealthier programs are pushing for a further subdivision of the NCAA’s top level.  If they can’t get their way on issues like this one, some observers say, they’ll just take their ball and go play somewhere else.

The climate has frustrated Mr. McPhee, who believes that even the less-wealthy programs have an obligation to make a priority of players and their unmet financial needs.  ‘If you want to compete [in Division I],’ he says, ‘you’ve got to step up.’

It’s also a matter of fairness, he says. Institutions increase aid packages for other students all the time, so why shouldn’t they do it for athletes too?”


There are only three questions remaining, in our view.  First, when will the new “super division” be created?  Second, will athletes from all sports be paid (if not, expect litigation).  Third, if all sports are included, are we looking at a split inside the FBS or an overall split among Division I schools in every sport?

While the 70-80 largest, richest football schools would obviously be ready to start their own new branch of the NCAA, would their be some big basketball schools — St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, for example — that are prepared to pay athletes as well?  One would imagine so.

Rest assured, a split is coming and a new “super division” will be formed.  It’s just a matter now of when it will be formed and who will be a part of it.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines 2/14/2013

recruiting-headlines-gfx1. The state of Georgia had approximately 190 seniors sign with FBS schools.  At least 55 of them flipped their commitment at least once before signing their paperwork.

2. Texas coach Mack Brown is taking a hardline approach with recruits – once committed, don’t take any more visits.  ”If you are committed to us, be committed. If you’re going to go look, we’re going to go look.”

3. Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on 2013 quarterback signeee Jeremy Johnson: ”I’m telling you, Jeremy was the rock of our class.”

4. Kentucky tight ends coach Vince Marrow  is targeting Ohio in 2014.“I am already on the top 15 guys (in Ohio) for next year. Can’t say their names, but they’re some very highly recruited guys.”

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SEC Headlines – 2/4/13


1.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week.

2.  As Anthony Hickey goes, so goes LSU.

3.  Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be trying to snap losing streaks when they meet on Wednesday.

4.  Kentucky’s team is finally developing an identity.

5.  Tennessee isn’t just looking for its first road win… the Vols are looking to become mentally tough.


6. has ranked all the FBS recruiting classes — as of today — in a conference-by-conference breakdown.

7.  When it comes to other leagues battling the SEC long-term, this writer says: “Give up.”

8.  Nick Saban has mastered the art of getting new players on campus early.

9.  Georgia has had some comings and at least one “going” with regards to its roster this month.

10.  South Carolina is set to ink a good crop of offensive linemen… if only projecting O-linemen were easy.


11.  So what happened with that Super Bowl outage?

12.  The NFL rakes in a whole lotta cash, but Division I NCAA athletic department have some big revenue numbers, too.

13.  The Jets won’t be cutting Tim Tebow… but they do hope to trade him.

14.  There’s a massive match-fixing scandal brewing in global soccer.

15.  Muhammad Ali’s family is denying reports that the legendary boxer is near death.

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Slive On Expansion: “For Us It’s Not About Numbers”

Mike Slive sat down for an extended chat with USA Today this week and the paper/website continues to roll out snippets from their Q&A with the SEC’s commissioner.  This morning, they share the portion of the conversation dealing with conference expansion and realignment.

Here are a few of the highlights from their piece — which you should read in its entirety right here — as well as our thoughts on Slive’s comments…


“Q: What’s your take on the recent events in the Big East? Is there further realignment coming?

A: Really, just following it. We read what you read and we read what you write. And maybe to go back a little bit, because this is probably where you’re going, we were very comfortable at 12 (member schools). We were successful. We weren’t looking to expand. And then Texas A&M came to us and subsequently Missouri, and at that point our folks evaluated the institutions. We were obviously looking to the future, and decided to take them.

We’re pleased to have 14 (members). Scheduling is not easy and we’re integrating that into our planning. But I think we’re at the same place at 14 that we were at 12. So needless to say, we’re aware, we watch what’s going on around us with interest. At this point in time that’s all we’re doing.

Q: Is 14 members viable for the long haul?

A: Yeah, we think so. You know, scheduling is not easy with 14. But we’re well down the road (scheduling).”


The SEC was well down the road with 12-team scheduling, too, when Texas A&M and then Missouri came aboard.  If the landscape changes and forces the league to move… and if the SEC can find a way to move that would add money and power to the conference, you better believe it will do so.


“Q: We’re all chasing realignment now. Where do you think college sports will be in five years? Would we be talking about super conferences? Could we see a separate subdivision or a breakaway from the NCAA?

A: When the question gets asked about super conferences, the sense I get is it’s not asked about the quality of the conference, it’s about a number (of members). For us it’s not about numbers. It’s about the quality of the conference and the institutions. From my observation, is there a concerted effort among conferences to get to a (certain) number? I don’t think so. I can’t speak for individual conferences, but to me, I don’t have any sense that there’s this master plan that governs the athletic universe that’s marching toward getting conferences with 16 teams. We’re all very different, we’re all very competitive, we all have different cultures.”


“For us it’s not about numbers.”  Well, the commish is obviously talking about hitting a specific number of schools and teams and we believe he’s right that there is no “master plan” driving every league to a 16-school limit.  We’ve been saying that for a few weeks now.  If things continue to move — and at this point it certainly looks like we’re headed in that direction — there could be some leagues with 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 or more schools.

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SEC Coaching Salaries 2012 (With Cost-Per-Victory Totals Thrown In For Kicks)

Each year, USA Today files public records requests with America’s universities to find which college football coaches make the most money.  Yesterday, they released the numbers for the about-to-be-completed 2012 season. 

USA Today’s findings show that the average FBS assistant now makes about $200,000.  According to the paper’s website, in the four years it’s conducted the study, head coaching salaries have risen about 21% while assistants’ salaries have jumped 29%.  Not a bad growth rate, eh?

Well, below is the breakdown for 13 of the SEC’s schools in 2012.  (Vanderbilt, as a private school, didn’t provide salary information.)


  School   Head Coach Salary 2012   Total Assistants’ Pay 2012
  Alabama   $5,316,667   $9,281,738
  LSU   $3,751,000   $7,865,652
  Auburn   $3,500,000   $7,343,200
  S. Carolina   $3,550,000   $6,034,600
  Georgia   $2,811,340   $5,695,340
  Florida   $2,474,500   $5,365,000
  Texas A&M   $2,436,000   $5,116,500
  Missouri   $2,700,000   $5,052,000
  Tennessee   $2,000,000   $4,986,000
  Miss. State   $2,600,000   $4,808,650
  Kentucky   $1,700,000   $3,938,650
  Ole Miss   $1,500,000   $3,724,690
  Arkansas   $850,000   $3,409,787


Arkansas, of course, was led by interim coach John L. Smith in 2012.

Alabama’s coaching staff was not only the best paid in the conference, but also the earners in the FBS.  While Bama’s staff ranked just ahead of Texas in terms of 2012 income, LSU’s ranked third in nation, Auburn’s came in sixth, and South Carolina’s assistants ranked 10th.

Just for kicks — or misery, depending on your perspective — we’ve also run the numbers to see how much each staff earned per victory this season.  Read ‘em and weep:


Auburn’s staff (3-9):  $2,447,733 per victory

Kentucky’s staff (2-10):  $1,969,325 per victory

Missouri’s staff (5-7):  $1,010,400 per victory

Tennessee’s staff (5-7):  $997,200 per victory

Arkansas’ staff (4-8):  $852,447 per victory

LSU’s staff (10-2):  $786,565 per victory

Alabama’s staff (12-1):  $773,478 per victory

South Carolina’s staff (10-2):  $603,460 per victory

Ole Miss’ staff (6-6):  $620,781 per victory

Mississippi State’s staff (8-4):  $601,081 per victory

Georgia’s staff (11-2):  $517,758 per victory

Texas A&M’s staff (10-2):  $511,650 per victory

Florida’s staff (11-1):  $487,727 per victory

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USC’s Ward Won’t Rule Out A Move To Georgia State, If Offered

Darryl Slater of The Charleston Post & Courier has put two and two together.  And South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward isn’t saying that Slater hasn’t correctly arrived at four.

With Bill Curry about to retire as Georgia State’s head football coach, Slater postulates that Ward might have an interest in the job because a) he played for Curry at Alabama and b) he has a lot of recruiting ties to the Peach State.

Asked if he’d be interested in the Panthers’ job, Ward said:


“You can’t ever say ‘no’ in this business, but I have a great job.”


Well there’s a non-denial, denial.  Of course Ward would listen if GSU came calling.  The Panthers make the jump from the FCS level to the FBS next season.  The school is located in the recruiting hotbed of Atlanta and currently there are only two other FBS programs in the state — Georgia and Georgia Tech — which is why so many other schools target the talent-rich state.  Georgia State has promise based on location alone.  If South Florida and UCF can build bowl-worthy programs in a state littered with FBS programs, GSU can do likewise in Georgia.  (USF is down this year, but they’ve had success in the past.)

But even if Ward has no intentions of making such a move — if the job is even offered — the attention from Georgia State alone might help him get another raise from South Carolina.

There’s a reason “you can’t ever say ‘no’” in coaching.

Post Comments » Comments (2) Stat Analysis: Slow Grind 10/4/12

What’s the opposite of a Quick Strike team that piles up points in the blink of an eye?  A defense-first club that forces its opponents to slowly grind out points over a large number of plays.  Thus… our Slow Grind measure.

Over the past five years we’ve found that a very efficient way of predicting a team’s success is to look at the number of plays said team forces its foes to run in order to score touchdowns.  This is not simply the opposite of our Quick Strike number (basically: points per offensive snap), but a totally different measurement (defensive snaps run for every defensive touchdown allowed).

Simply: How many plays must an offense run — on average — to score a touchdown against a specific defense?

We do not count special teams scores or interception/fumble returns in this equation.  This is strictly a look at touchdowns — not total points — allowed by a team as compared to how many snaps a defensive unit was on the field.  Still, however, special teams and offensive production do factor in overall.  A good special teams unit will pin an opponent deep in its own end, forcing it to string together multiple plays to score (and with each additional snap run, there’s a greater chance for a turnover).  Steady, grind-it-out offenses can also eat up clock and limit a foe’s time of possession.

Happily, the folks at studied our numbers and found them to be quite accurate at predicting Big Ten success just as we’ve found them to correlate nicely with SEC wins.  The more we see them applied elsewhere — and the more they work — the better we feel.

Once we get deeper into the season, we’ll look at SEC versus SEC numbers, but for now — so early in the year — we’ll take the numbers from all games against FBS foes into account.

So here’s one of our old favorites, the Slow Grind measure…


  School  Def. TDs Allowed vs FBS   Def. Plays vs FBS
  Def. Plays/TD Allowed
  Texas A&M   3   237   79.00
  S. Carolina   5   330   66.00
  Alabama   5   290   58.00
  Miss. State   4   221   55.25
  LSU   5   230   46.00
  Florida   7   279   39.85
  Georgia   12   367   30.58
  Auburn   11   312   28.36
  Ole Miss   11   282   25.63
  Missouri   14   276   19.71
  Vanderbilt   11   212   19.27
  Kentucky   19   364   19.15
  Tennessee   15   282   18.80
  Arkansas   23   321   13.95



*  Keep in mind that so far this season SEC defenses are on the field for an average of 69.96 plays per game.

*  Hey, I thought Kevin Sumlin was supposed to be an offensive coach.  The Aggies — granted against just three FBS foes — are giving up less than a touchdown a game on defense when you simply go by the numbers.

* South Caroilna, Alabama and LSU are all in the top five in the SEC in terms of our Slow Grind measure.  No surprise.  Those three defenses were expected to rank at the top of the chart before the season started and they likely will when the season comes to a close.

* Hey, I thought Dan Mullen was supposed to be an offensive coach.  Like Sumlin at A&M, Mullen’s has to be pleased that his defense is playing as well as it has.  One reason the Bulldogs give up so few touchdowns?  They turn their opponents over — 15 takeaways total.

* Missouri, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas… yikes.  When your opponents score a touchdown once every 18 or 19 plays, that’s pretty bad.  When they’re scoring once every 13.95 plays — as they are against the Razorbacks — it horrific.  The Hog offense is turning the ball over too often, but Paul Haynes’ unit just hasn’t put the brakes on anyone from Jacksonville State right on through Texas A&M last week.

Post Comments » Comments (15) Stat Analysis: Quick Strike 10/4/12

For the past five years we’ve tried to bring you sets of numbers and statistics that provide a different glimpse into the world of SEC football.  One of the most telling stats we’ve come up with is what we call the “Quick Strike” measure.

Obviously, the goal in football is to put up as many points as possible.  The fewer snaps it takes a team to do that, the less chance for errors like penalties and turnovers.  Quick Strike provides a simple look at how many points each offensive snap is worth to a given team.  Literally, it reveals the number of points scored per offensive play run.

But Quick Strike is not just an offensive measure.  Special teams scores and long returns can speed up how quickly a team piles up points.  Turnovers can provide short fields for offenses.  Defensive touchdowns are even more valuable as a team does not even need to run an offensive play and risk a turnover or penalty in order to put points on the scoreboard.

Turns out, we aren’t the only math geeks out there who like this stat.  A bigger math geek than those of us here at — and we mean that in a good way — has tested our numbers, applied them to the Big Ten, and found that there’s a clear correlation between a good Quick Strike number and wins in that league as well.  You can find the analysis of here.

Now, the deeper we get into the season, the more telling this statistic will become.  Eventually, we’ll begin using only numbers from SEC-versus-SEC games.  For now, however, we must use the points scored and plays run against all FBS opponents.

So without further ado, here are the Quick Strike numbers to date for the SEC’s 14 teams versus FBS competition.


  School   Pts/Scored vs FBS   Off. Plays vs FBS   Pts/Off. Play
  Georgia   241   336   .717
  Alabama   201   316   .636
  LSU   157   276   .568
  S. Carolina   183   323   .566
  Texas A&M   123   235   .523
  Florida   122   263   .463
  Miss. State   88   192   .458
  Tennessee   146   325   .449
  Ole Miss   112   277   .404
  Kentucky   109   341   .319
  Auburn   70   238   .294
  Missouri   75   285   .263
  Arkansas   67   284   .235
  Vanderbilt   29   187   .155



*  Georgia is the rare offense that has the ability to score via big plays through the air and on the ground with freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

*  Alabama might not be flashy, but they’re efficient.  If not for having to settle for four field goals against Ole Miss last week, the Tide would be even closer to Georgia in terms of points per play.

*  LSU has shot itself in the foot quite a bit with fumbles, red zone turnovers and penalties, but against FBS foes it really hasn’t mattered a whole lot yet.

* Mississippi State only has 88 points versus FBS foes on the year, but they’ve also needed just 192 offensive snaps to post those points.  Why?  Because MSU leads the nation in turnover margin and Tyler Russell and company are cashing in on short fields provided by State’s opportunistic D.

* Coming into the season, who would have guessed that Missouri (with James Franklin) and Arkansas (with Tyler Wilson) would rank 12th and 13th in the conference in this Quick Strike measure?  Yes, there have been some extenuating circumstances and both of those QBs have missed a game this year, but still, to see the Tigers and Razorbacks near the bottom of the SEC in an offensive category is rather surprising.

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