Think again if you think the SEC can get 2 teams into a playoff…
Try 3. Here’s how I would do it if I am Slive.
Has time moved so fast that we do not remember the 2011 college football season when fans from all over the country started grabbing their torches and pitchforks to protest the BCS championship game comprised of the two best teams in college football? Barring University Presidential approval, we are about to get the new BCS 4.0 to replace existing BCS 2.0. A ‘new’ system designed through the same reactionary process that got us the BCS 2.0. The BCS 4.0 will not reduce the issues and fix most of the wrongs of the current BCS 2.0 system. It will weaken the regular season as it will allow for conferences to use scheduling and championship games to manipulate revenue and ranking. Please don’t come crying to me when the SEC gets 3 or even 4 teams into the top 4. While the odds are not high that it would fall into place, the SEC is in the best position to try and push 3 teams into the top 4.
If I was Mike Slive here is exactly how and why I would do it:
As Mike Slive I got my way for a 4 team
playoff BCS 4.0. A 4 team playoff will reduce the odds of having one of my SEC teams upset in a playoff game. I know as the SEC commissioner the more games we play in a playoff, the greater the odds of having one of my superior teams lose. This is exactly the reason the NCAA March tourney is so successful. With a field of 64, odds of an upset go up significantly. We (SEC) know that upsets are going to happen in a playoff ( in the regular season for the SEC it is about 1 in 5 games) and the more teams you start with the greater the odds are that one of our teams gets beat. In a 8 team playoff there would be 7 games versus 3 in BCS 4.0. With just 4 teams and not 8 as suggested by the CFB Matrix, our teams are at risk for an upset only twice every 3 years. With 8 teams, there would be at least 1-2 upsets every year.
Money. And lots of it.
I’ve been advised that the new BCS 4.0 contract could double the current revenue stream of the current BCS 2.0 system. I am getting a ‘playoff’ system with just four teams How do I jockey the SEC into a position that splits the the payout amongst the participants? If I can get 3 SEC teams in, that guarantees the SEC 2/3 of all the allotted revenue. (Note: We know that $18 million per team was allotted to Alabama & LSU just for participating in the 2011 championship game.) Based on these numbers it is fair to say that my conference (SEC) could pull in up to $60 million under this new BCS 4.0 playoff format. Heck I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that it would be an extra $4.3 million dollars for each of my SEC schools. This money could be used to make my conference even stronger with the ability to build more/better facilities for our universities. As the commissioner I know this monetary advantage would further distance my conference from the rest of the country. While it would be most equatable to split the revenue amongst all the schools that help to make college football the great sport it is, that is not the responsibility of the SEC.
Talking 4 vs 8 in College Football Playoffs & how the SEC can get 3+ into it
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How can the SEC get 3 or even 4 teams into the 4 team playoff?
It’s very simple. We have the two toughest and most talented (recruiting rank, coaching, schedule) divisions in college football. The computers, the media and certainly a committee of former coaches and experts will feel the same way. The first goal is to get the most teams in a position to have the most wins. With 14 teams, there will be cycles in which the SEC elite teams like LSU, Alabama and Auburn will not have to play the elite teams of the other division like Georgia and Florida. The easier the schedule, the more likely an SEC team can get to 11 or 12 wins and into the top 4. (Note: It almost happened last year— if Georgia or South Carolina had one more win it would have been really close.)
Using a championship game as a tool
The clear resolution is to try and limit the selection committee’s ability to place emphasis on conference champions and to modify the SEC championship if it means getting a playoff berth. The revenue from being in the playoff would trump all proceeds made during the SEC championship game. If I have any teams in the top 4 of the BCS rankings (keep in mind no on e has proposed to stop using those) then we (SEC) simply withhold them from our final game. Heck, we might as well just call it the Bourbon Bowl and play whoever we want including any SEC on the fringe of the top 4 that needs another win. The Big12 has no championship game and our divisions have 7 teams just like the Big East. I don’t think fans and the committee would see each of division champs in a less light than any other AQ champion. In addition, SEC fans would get the benefit of saving their money to travel to a semi-final and then a national championship game.
How will other conferences shoot themselves in the foot?
With the other conferences standing by their championship game, it increases the likelihood they hurt their own teams. Example: Michigan and Ohio State can play twice a year and eventually they will ruin it for both of them in thee Big Ten by split the games. The same, but to a less extent, with the ACC. The PAC12 is still holding onto the idea of 9 conference games and a championship game. That system makes a lot of sense. The fans like having an extra ‘meaningful’ game in the schedule plus the championship game, but there ain’t no room for sense in college football.
The issues begin with the BIG12. They have no championship game to hurt themselves and they have two potentially elite teams in Texas and Oklahoma. As soon as the Longhorns get a quality head coach (like Gary Patterson), or turn their entire program back around, they, along with the Sooners could be right back to 11/12 win seasons.
The last word
In the following article, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the most powerful conference commissioner and show you how and why the SEC would want to maximize control and continue to dominate the college football landscape using the storytelling trends and odds tools of the College Football Matrix. While it may not work every year, with good planning, scheduling and terms of playoff team selection, the idea of having two SEC teams in the playoffs is a constant reality. While I do agree that 2 (or 3) SEC teams will deserve to be in a 4-8 team playoff in any given year, is that really what the fans were asking for when the conferences put the idea on the drawing board? What makes the NCAA basketball tournament so successful is hope for the underdog. 4 teams will, all too infrequently, give us no chance at an underdog. we love our champions and those that win it all. But underdogs give most us of hope because that is what most of us are in life, underdogs. Reduce that hope for the underdog and it lessens the excitement and anticipation.
While a new BCS 4.0 is a step in the right direction, it is settling for mediocracy. It is being happy for changing your D to a C when a much higher grade was so easily attainable with some more time, effort and patience put into the work. It took 20 years to try and right the wrongs of the BCS, should we, as fans settle on another 20 years of shortsighted and reactionary planning? I hope the BCS Presidential Committee takes their time and asks for more options than the giant douche and turd sandwich the conference commissioners have offered up to them.
- Dave Bartoo, The CFBMatrix & your Anti-Homer Follow @cfbmatrix
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