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Conference calls

What do the new changes mean for the college game?

Alex Ferguson Posted 29th June 2012 view comments

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King.

After more than 100 years of dissatisfaction, the College Football critics finally have their answer: They are getting a play-off.

Last week, the Presidents of College Football's biggest conferences (the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC and Big East- as well as the University of Notre Dame)- announced that there would be a four-team play-off to decide who wins the National Championship.

How does the future look for college football?

How does the future look for college football?

It was an announcement more than 100 years in the making, and would finally put to death the annual arguments over the worthiness of a National Champion.

Starting in the 2014-15 season (no, I don't know why they couldn't have started this in the 2013-14 season), there will be two semi-finals and a final to decide College Football champion.

Despite this writer's cries to let a computer using a transparent system rank the teams, College Football's powers-that-be have decided that it's going to be better for a selection committee to rank the teams. We just can't wait to see how this one will turn out.

Alex Ferguson
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In other words, if you're College Football's fifth-ranked team in December 2014, you'll be absolutely furious.

The games don't starve College Football's Golden Goose, which has been the Bowl Championship Series, either. The two semi-finals will be played in six stadiums on rotation, meaning that every big-time bowl will have their place in the sun.

There is a certain amount of intrigue as to which bowl is going be College Football's sixth bowl, although the indications are the decision of the Big XII and SEC to have a 'Champions Bowl' which will see the top teams in both conferences play each other (if the unlikely event happens that each conference don't have a representative at the top table) looks to have been a good one.

Having said that, other bowl games are also bidding for position, which means things could get every interesting (Tip: The sixth bowl will likely be College Football's highest bidder, so don't be surprised if Jerry Jones backs the SEC/Big XII Bowl in a bid to have the National Championship Game at his stadium).

But the most important question will be: How on earth do we pick the four best teams in College Football?

Despite this writer's cries to let a computer using a transparent system rank the teams, College Football's powers-that-be have decided that it's going to be better for a selection committee to rank the teams. We just can't wait to see how this one will turn out.

The play-off teams will be decided on win-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and whether a team is a conference champion or not (it should be noted that National Champion Alabama didn't even win the SEC last year but still managed to get into the National Championship Game, where they tore about SEC champion LSU 21-0).


The biggest question is going to be about strength of schedule. Notre Dame - the sport's most powerful university voice - wants it to be about strength of schedule.

The first reason is simple: Notre Dame doesn't want to get pushed into a conference if there is a play-off emphasis on conference champions or win-loss records, because they - as an independent - consistently put together a schedule of games which the media usually describe as being 'brutal' (2012 will be no different), and if they have a good record, will automatically mean a semi-final spot.

But the second reason is greener than the fields they play on: They don't want to give up their $15m-PER-YEAR deal with NBC to show home Fighting Irish games - the away ones are on ESPN generally - although they probably won't tell you that.

But although it's easy to be cynical, Notre Dame's Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick had a point on the conference call.

Notre Dame's Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told an ESPN Radio show:

"If you choose not to challenge yourself, especially in the pre-conference games, it's going to impact your rating. That's another way we think we're contributing to the vibrancy of the regular season through this process."

I think that the bigger schools will simply talk up the importance of their conference, and therefore decide to schedule much poorer teams in an effort to stay unbeaten until conference time.

Their motto will be: "Get through the first three pre-conference games unscathed, and give ourselves a shot at the National Championship."

I believe that the Selection Committee should answer with: "If Alabama schedules Wyoming and North Mexico State every year, they WON'T have a shot at the National Championship".

But I don't think that's likely, since the Commissioners that govern College Football would not want to make things awkward for their all-powerful coaches and teams (most big teams are guilty of scheduling lambs to the slaughter, by the way).

According to Swarbrick, the committee, which will be made up of unbiased college football analysts would consist of around 12-15 people and have no school affilation. Gosh Mr Swarbrick, I hope you take me to school when I say these words: "I'll believe it when I see it".

On paper, all of this should look so good. College Football is getting its play-off - something that it's needed for years.

But with so many worries about strength of schedule and bias on the committee (which we don't know yet) , you can't help but think: Wouldn't all of this be made easier using a transparent computer system?

Check out Alex's previous blog on the decision before it was announced

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