Conference Realignment: Why SEC-Big 12 Deal Doesn’t Bring On Superconferences

Many Experts Believe the New Big 12-SEC Deal Means Superconferences Are Here. But Are They Really That Inevitable?

When news broke late last week of the Big 12 and SEC‘s agreement to create “Rose Bowl South,” every pundit from coast-to-coast was quick to declare the ACC dead and announce the arrival of superconferences. The theory is/was that with the “top four” FBS leagues paired off into big-money arrangements and likely playoffs berths too, there’d be little room for the ACC (and the other leagues, which didn’t stand much of a chance to begin with). It also took this as proof that the next big domino (Florida State) would be falling shortly, ushering in the superconfernece era.

While I’m not naive enough to think that Florida State’s going to stick around (at this point, I believe that ship has unfortunately sailed), nor am I crazy enough to claim that the ACC offers a product far superior to the other leagues, I do believe the ACC will be okay. You see, this superconference theory manages to forget several extremely important factors, all of which actually help out the ACC a great deal:

1. Notre Dame‘s being threatened into irrelevance: And that means they’re looking for a conference. Not so long ago, it seemed like the ACC could still be that landing spot, and I’ll stand by the Irish being far more comfortable joining that league than the Big 12. The only thing that may change this could be Miami pairing with Florida State on the way out, giving Notre Dame two lucrative rivalries in Florida. Continue reading

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College Football Playoffs: Negative Impacts for ACC, Orange Bowl

To the ACC, a College Football Playoff May Seem Great, Until the League Takes a Look at the Disadvantage It's Dealt

As we’ve detailed before, a college football playoff is happening. There’s no turning back, and the most likely outcome is a four-team “event” matching the top four teams at neutral locations. The twist now, is whether they’ll implement the “Mandel Plan” — a design that gives a slight nod to its possible architect, Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel. Under the “Mandel Plan,” the two semifinal matchups are played at the traditional conference bowl tie-in sites of the one- and two-seeds, respectively. The theory goes that this preserves the bowls (the Rose Bowl would still host at least one of the Pac-12/Big Ten champs, unless they were the third and fourth seeds) and ensures higher seeds aren’t forced to “host” games in hostile environments.

For the five power leagues, this all would make perfectly equitable sense… if everything were perfectly equitable, that is. A look at how the four-team playoff would have been set up over these past 14 years, using the BCS standings as our ranking tool (a revised version of the same rankings will probably be deciding the actual playoff participants, albeit under a different moniker): Continue reading

College Football Playoffs: The Rose Bowl Plan Is Awful

The "Rose Bowl Plan" Has Quickly Been Declared a Disaster. What Are Our Alternatives?

A playoff system — of any sort — seems pretty simple overall. Just decide how many participants there are, how participants are determined and where the games are played, and you’re good. Not so for the NCAA, apparently. Behold, the Rose Bowl plan:

This GAWDAWFUL idea is the Frankenstein’s monster of college football playoffs; literally the worst possible way to finally bow to the whims of the game’s fans. It’s actually one of three ideas you can find outlined pretty thoroughly in an internal memo between the powers-that-be. The basic gist, via USA Today, which first obtained the document:

“In the latter plan, the four highest-ranked teams at the end of the regular season would meet in semifinals unless the Big Ten or Pac-12 champ, or both, were among the top four. Those leagues’ teams still would meet in the Rose, and the next highest-ranked team or teams would slide into the semis. The national championship finalists would be selected after those three games.”

This smells like elitism because it IS elitism! Always ones to declare themselves better than their obviously superior competition (the Big Ten hasn’t owned a football title in a decade, now), the B1G and Pac-12 have decided they’re better than any result of a legitimate playoff system too. Of course, I value the Rose Bowl. That’s not what we’re debating here — a fact completely and utterly lost on both leagues and the game itself. The debate is about the most fair way to get the best teams squared off in a playoff of anywhere from two (the plus-one model) to 16 (the “December Madness” pipedream) teams. I’d sit here and tear down the entire thing year by year, however, SBNation’s Jason Kirk already did the honors for the past five seasons. Continue reading

Atlantic Coast Convos BCS Projections (Week 14)

The SEC Could Celebrate Another Title Before the Game Is Even Played

Rather than an in-depth rundown of all of this weekend’s championship games, we’re just going to look at the end-game — what happens after league titles are decided, and it’s time to hand out bids to the big money bowls. Along with each game below, we’ll include a brief explanation of the matchup, and how we got there. For our longer ACC Championship Game preview, however, please head over here.

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. West Virginia Mountaineers — Orange Bowl organizers, forced to take the eventual Big East champion, actually end up with a pretty favorable scenario here. A regional matchup between these two former conference-mates also allows them to put the Black Diamond Trophy up for grabs in a battle of one staunch defense against another high-powered offense.

Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Wisconsin Badgers — The Rose Bowl gets its wish this season, getting back to tradition by pitting the Pac-12 champ against the Big Ten champ. Oregon shouldn’t have much of a problem getting here, but the Badgers will face a tough contest this weekend against Michigan State. Both sporting high-scoring offenses, it’ll be an interesting test of wills between UO’s LaMichael James and UW’s Montee Ball to see who can run the ball more effectively.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Stanford Cardinal — On paper, this one’s an exciting matchup between two of the top five schools in the country. However, the returns may not end up that way. OSU’s offensive tempo is similar to Oregon’s, and while the Cowboys’ defensive quickness may not compare to the Ducks’, the speedy passing attack will keep the Cardinal off-balance all day.

Sugar Bowl: Houston Cougars vs. Michigan Wolverines — If the SEC and Big Ten title games shake out the way they’re supposed to, organizers will likely have to choose between Kansas State and Michigan in this one to see who faces Houston. With the guiding logic that UM will draw more TV viewers, it’s too obvious the Wolverines (by that point in the BCS top 14) will be headed to New Orleans.

BCS National Championship: LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide: Rumor has it that even if the Tigers are somehow upset in their conference title game, there’s little standing in the way of a big SEC West rematch in the national championship game. We’re hoping for a higher-scoring affair than last time obviously, but with two quality programs and a nearly-undisputed 1 v. 2 matchup, it would promise to be a great game (unlike many title games before it).

Hypothetical College Football Playoff (Week 13)

Les Miles and LSU Continue To Win in Real Life and in Our Hypothetical Playoff

Each week, we’ll discuss what a 16-team college football playoff would look like. Using the BCS standings, we’ll hand out five at-large berths, to go along with the 11 conference champions, who all receive automatic bids (decided by head-to-head tiebreakers if no conference title game here). There are no limits on how many teams from one league can qualify, and conferences may very well end up facing each other in the first round. Teams are seeded in order of BCS ranking, and reseeded after each round.

First Round (winners in italics)

#1 LSU Tigers (SEC champ) v. NR Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (WAC champ)

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide (at-large) v. NR Northern Illinois Huskies (MAC champ)

#3 Arkansas Razorbacks (at-large) v. NR Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt champ) 

#4 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 champ) v, NR West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East champ)

#5 Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC champ) v. #20 TCU Horned Frogs (MWC champ)

#6 Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 champ) v. #14 Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten champ)

#7 Boise State Broncos (at-large) v. #10 Oregon Ducks (at-large)

#8 Houston Cougars (C-USA champ)  v. #9 Oklahoma Sooners (at-large)

Quarterfinals

#1 LSU Tigers v. #20 TCU Horned Frogs

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide v. #10 Oregon Ducks

#3 Arkansas Razorbacks v. #9 Oklahoma Sooners

#4 Oklahoma State Cowboys v. #6 Stanford Cardinal

Semifinals

#1 LSU Tigers v. #4 Oklahoma State Cowboys

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide v. #3 Arkansas Razorbacks

National Championship (Rose Bowl)

#1 LSU Tigers over #2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Big upsets over this past weekend created a pretty sizable seeding shake-up, allowing Boise State to re-enter the playoffs while also almost knocking out Oregon. Since there’s still plenty of room for error in these most recent BCS standings, there were plenty of upsets in the hypothetical first round (three of eight lower seeds won). Unfortunately, this ended up creating several unfavorable second-round matchups (OSU-Stanford, ‘Bama-Oregon) for underdogs that look insurmountable on paper. So once again, after round one, it was all chalk. Fun to see in-state opening round games like LSU-Louisiana Tech and Arkansas-Arkansas State shake out though.

Hypothetical College Football Playoff (Week 12)

Les Miles and LSU Are Projected To Win Our Hypothetical Playoff, Too

Each week, we’ll discuss what a 16-team college football playoff would look like. Using the BCS standings, we’ll hand out five at-large berths, to go along with the 11 conference champions, who all receive automatic bids (decided by head-to-head tiebreakers if no conference title game here). There are no limits on how many teams from one league can qualify, and conferences may very well end up facing each other in the first round. Teams are seeded in order of BCS ranking, and reseeded after each round.

First Round (winners in italics)

#1 LSU Tigers (SEC champ) v. NR Nevada Wolfpack (WAC champ)

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 champ) v. NR Northern Illinois Huskies (MAC champ)

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide (at-large) v. NR Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt champ) 

#4 Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 champ) v, NR West Virginia Mountaineers (Big East champ)

#5 Oklahoma Sooners (at-large) v. #19 TCU Horned Frogs (MWC champ)

#6 Arkansas Razorbacks (at-large) v. #15 Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten champ)

#7 Clemson Tigers (ACC champ) v. #10 Houston Cougars (C-USA champ)

#8 Virginia Tech Hokies (at-large) v. #9 Stanford Cardinal (at-large)

Quarterfinals

#1 LSU Tigers v. #9 Stanford Cardinal

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys v. #7 Clemson Tigers

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide v. #6 Arkansas Razorbacks

#4 Oregon Ducks v. #5 Oklahoma Sooners

Semifinals

#1 LSU Tigers v. #4 Oregon Ducks

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys v. #3 Alabama Crimson Tide

National Championship (Rose Bowl)

#1 LSU Tigers over #2 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Recent changes to the BCS standings yielded a whole lot of chalk this week, as only one lower seed (Stanford) advanced in the entire tournament (and even that was just one round). In real life and in this hypothetical playoff, LSU and Oklahoma State seem to be on a crash course for a title game where they’ll pit dominant defense versus dominant offense. Also of note in these playoffs, Boise State is not present due to losing their head-to-head with TCU Saturday, and thus failing to win the conference title. Due to there being five at-large teams ahead of them, they ended up the odd-man out.

Hypothetical College Football Playoff (Week 11)

Once Again, LSU is Victorious in Our Hypothetical Playoff

Each week, we’ll discuss what a 16-team college football playoff would look like. Using the BCS standings, we’ll hand out five at-large berths, to go along with the 11 conference champions, who all receive automatic bids. There are no limits on how many teams from one league can qualify, and conferences may very well end up facing each other in the first round. Teams are seeded in order of BCS ranking, and reseeded after each round.

First Round (winners in italics)

#1 LSU Tigers (SEC champ) v. NR Nevada Wolfpack (WAC champ)

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 champ) v. NR Northern Illinois Huskies (MAC champ)

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide (at-large) v. NR Arkansas State Red Wolves (Sun Belt champ) 

#4 Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 champ) v, #23 Cincinnati Bearcats (Big East champ)

#5 Boise State Broncos (MWC champ) v. #12 Penn State Nittany Lions (Big Ten champ)

#6 Oklahoma Sooners (at-large) v. #11 Houston Cougars (C-USA champ)

#7 Oregon Ducks (at-large) v. #10 Virginia Tech Hokies (at-large)

#8 Arkansas Razorbacks (at-large) v. #9 Clemson Tigers (ACC champ)

Quarterfinals

#1 LSU Tigers v. #11 Houston Cougars

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys v. #8 Arkansas Razorbacks

#3 Alabama Crimson Tide v. #7 Oregon Ducks

#4 Stanford Cardinal v. #5 Boise State Broncos

Semifinals

#1 LSU Tigers v. #7 Oregon Ducks

#2 Oklahoma State Cowboys v. #4 Stanford Cardinal

National Championship (Rose Bowl)

#1 LSU Tigers over #2 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Things change a bit from last week, as Stanford unfortunately gets matched up with Oklahoma State in the national seminfinals. Both teams have shown struggles with strong passing attacks, but the Cardinal won’t be able to open up the playbook like Kansas State did against the Cowboys last Saturday. Like last week’s projections, LSU lucks into two straight cakewalks, this time via a Houston upset of Oklahoma (conceivable, really). If the Tigers defense replicated their performance against Alabama, it’d be hard to see OSU leave Pasadena with a victory.