More Mailbag (cont.)
You are the sole member of the Revisionist Past Selection Committee. Please go through the last several years and show us how this new-fangled playoff/"host" bowls/Group of Five thing would have played out.
-- Ben Caire, Golden, Colo.
Instead, why don't I lay out what the system would look like this season, if it ended today, using the BCS standings as the committee's rankings and the highest-ranked team in each conference as its champion? Also, let's assume the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls become the three so-called host bowls. (A suggestion to the BCS folks: Why not call them "open" bowls instead?) Mind you, the Rose (Big Ten vs. Pac-12), Sugar (SEC vs. Big 12) and Orange (ACC vs. Notre Dame/SEC No. 2/Big Ten No. 2) have already been announced as the three contract bowls.
And let's assume that in this particular year, the Orange and Fiesta Bowls are hosting the semifinals. So first we fill in those two games.
Orange: No. 1 Kansas State vs. No. 4 Alabama
Fiesta: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Then we fill in the other contract bowls, replacing the teams they lost to the playoff if necessary.
Sugar: No. 5 Georgia (SEC) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (Big 12)
Rose: No. 13 Stanford (Pac-12) vs. No. 14 Nebraska (Big Ten)
Finally, we fill in the other host bowls, which must include any displaced champion from the semifinal bowls and the highest-ranked champ from the Group of Five.
Chick-fil-A: No. 6 Florida (at-large) vs. No. 19 Louisville (Group of Five)
Cotton: No. 7 LSU (at-large) vs. No. 10 Florida State (ACC)
Now, compare those matchups to my current projected BCS lineup. Which do you like more?
Oregon's next three games are similar to Alabama's recent three-game stretch. I read that Alabama was one of only four No. 1 teams to ever play three top-15 teams in consecutive weeks, and three of them lost the third game. [Note: 2001 Miami was the lone exception.] With Oregon playing No. 14 Stanford, No. 15 Oregon State and possibly No. 17 UCLA, do you see some cumulative wear and tear catching up to the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship?
-- Ben, Golden, Colo.
Wait ... Ben from Golden, Colo., do you happen to know Ben Caire from Golden, Colo.? You guys live in the same town, have the same first name and both read the Mailbag. You two should hang out!
But to your point, you don't have to wait until the end of that stretch; that wear and tear is already happening. I wrote about it Monday, but Oregon's defense is a mess right now. The Ducks' top five defensive linemen were either already hurt or got hurt last week against Cal. A few of them, including star end Dion Jordan, may return as soon as this week, but it's believed starting tackle Wade Keliikipi is out for several weeks. Also in the Cal game, starting safety Avery Patterson -- who replaced preseason All-America John Boyett at the start of the year -- tore his ACL, so Oregon is down to a third-stringer there. In sum, Oregon played most of the Cal game without half of its starting defense.
Can you imagine if LSU went into a game without Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo, Bennie Logan and Anthony Johnson? That's what happening at Oregon, yet I get the sense most people either don't realize it or are brushing it off because there's so little regard for Oregon's defense to begin with. The sense is, as long as Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner (both of whom also briefly left the Cal game with injuries) keep putting up 50 points every week, what does it matter how many injuries the defense sustains? But I'd be concerned. As Ben noted, that's quite a three-game gauntlet ahead, and if a week comes where the offense isn't clicking, any of those teams is capable of exploiting a half-strength Ducks' defense.
Many people are saying the BCS 2.0 news from Monday afternoon forces BYU to join the Big East. I just don't see it. The Big East just went from guaranteed BCS access for its champion to splitting that same access five ways. Sure, the Big East provides more money than independence, but it also likely provides less TV exposure (even with the new contract) and worse scheduling. As a fan, am I crazy for prioritizing an entire season of nationally televised games against historical programs/quality opponents (look at BYU's 2013 schedule) over increased revenue and marginal access to a big bowl game?
-- Josh, Lubbock, Texas
It's an interesting question, as BYU's situation is almost a microcosm of college football's uniqueness as a sport. If this were almost any other sport -- pro or college -- and I told you the Cougars' status in regard to the postseason, you would be horrified. By 2015, they will be one of just two teams (the other being Army) with no guaranteed mechanism by which to access one of the premier games, besides qualifying for the playoff. If BYU were in the Sun Belt (which makes no sense, but go with it), it would at least go into every season knowing that if it finished ranked the highest of any Group of Five team, it would be guaranteed a spot in one of the premier bowls. If, as in most sports, you believe the sole purpose of the regular season is to best position yourself for the postseason, then BYU should be banging on the Big East's door begging for a home.
However, as Josh points out, what BYU would potentially sacrifice for access to one game may well be outweighed by the value of its previous 12. BYU played at Notre Dame this year. Next year it will host Texas, and in future years it will visit Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan. Should the program trade in those games to face Temple, Memphis and USF? This season, all but three of the Cougars' games are on either an ESPN network, ABC or NBC. While we don't yet know what the Big East's new TV deal will include, it almost certainly won't guarantee that level of distribution. Ultimately, though, BYU may find it's missing out on too much money. The Big East isn't going to get SEC, Big Ten or Pac-12 dollars for its new deal, but its teams are going to get substantially more than BYU gets on its own. And the Big East stands to gain another significant revenue stream if it qualifies a team or teams for BCS 2.0 most years, thus earning a cut of what's projected to be a $500 million a year system. Eventually, it may become a competitive disadvantage for the school to deprive its programs of that pipeline.
I will donate $100 to the charity of your choice if you continue to pick Nebraska to lose.
-- Mike, Juneau, Alaska
That's tempting, but it would require my picking the Huskers to lose at home against Minnesota. I may be insane, but I'm not looking to be committed.
Again, please keep picking against Nebraska. This makes four games in a row that the Cornhuskers have won when you pick against them. Two more times and the Huskers are on their way to Indy.
-- Doug, Papillion, Neb.
You're not giving me enough credit. I've actually picked against them five times in a row. It's just that no one wrote in to give me flak when Ohio State beat the Huskers, 63-38.