Ohio State Update
Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten. That is not new information; in fact, it is something I told you earlier this season. Ohio State has two obvious problems: first and most obvious, it is on probation this year. Second, the Big Ten is a joke this year. Ohio State will face three ranked opponents all year (Michigan State, Nebraska, and Michigan) and has been mostly unimpressive most of the year. Ohio State fans contend the Buckeye’s would be in contention and deserve to play for the National Championship if they were not on probation. This simply is not true.
Yes, Ohio State is undefeated, but their schedule and subsequent play did them no favors this year. OSU’s non-conference schedule was mostly a joke (as many FBS teams’ are) and near losses to Indiana, Purdue, and Wisconsin do them no favors. As I always say, “those guys are on scholarship too,” but be realistic about Ohio State: They have not earned, nor do they deserve a chance at the BCS National Championship.
Yes, Ohio State could win the Associated Press National Championship, but that would also be a joke. Ohio State’s bowl game is this week versus Michigan. If the AP wants to bestow its title on a team other than the BCS National Champion it should award it to a team this is not on probation. It really is as easy as that.
SEC In Transition
Like the Big Ten this year, next year the Southeastern Conference will likely replace half of its football head coaches. What does that mean? The SEC will continue to be, from top to bottom, a mediocre conference. In the head coaching transition, the Big Ten replaced half of its defensive coordinators and half of its offensive coordinators. Think about that for a second…
Next year, or this offseason, the SEC will do nearly the same thing and but this will be a particularly interesting off-season for those south of the Mason-Dixon.
Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee in the East division, along with Arkansas and Auburn in the West can or will be replacing their head coaches and staffs. There is also talk that James Franklin at Vanderbilt could head east and coach in Knoxville. This gives you six new head coaches in the conference that has won the past six national championships.
What does that mean for 2013, well frankly, it means the conference will continue to be top heavy, unbalanced and non-competitive except for five teams at the top.
Big Ten Expanding, Again
Reports are emerging that Maryland and Rutgers will leave the ACC and Big East, respectively, to join the Big Ten. Obviously, this is not a move tied directly to football, but one tied to generating more income and improving academics and research. There is a potential, but unlikely to happen, that the Big Ten expanding into the New York and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. metro areas could generate nearly $200 million per year in revenue for the Big Ten Network. Read the last sentence if you need to, it is not a lie.
While those dollars are important for the conference as a whole and its member schools, what most intrigues the presidents of the current membership are the academic strengths each school brings to the table. Maryland and Rutgers are part of the super exclusive (think Skull & Bones) Association of American Universities (AAU) which maintains academic and research standards. With the exception of Nebraska, every member of the Big Ten is currently part of the AAU. Believe it or not, this is a big deal to conference presidents. The money is also a motivating factor.
The only potential roadblock to this is if Maryland is forced (it will not be) to pay the ACC’s $50 million exit fee. Maryland will pay a substantial sum, but it will not be close to $50 million.
Does this force Notre Dame to join the ACC as a full time member? Of course not, as long as NBC renews its deal with Notre Dame. Assuming the Irish are as successful next year as they have been this year (title or not) expect NBC to renew its exclusive deal with Notre Dame.
Will this hurt the Big East or the ACC in any substantial way? Well, no one plays in the Big East now, and since the ACC has Notre Dame in every other sport than football its conference credibility has already been boosted.
What you should not expect: The Big 12 or the Pacific-12 to expand. Both conferences are exactly where they want to be “numbers-wise” and no school can leave the Big 12 without giving up its conference revenue for 13 years. That is a number that far exceeds the $50 million Maryland will potentially have to pay to leave the ACC.
This past weekend we saw #1 Kansas State lose to Baylor and #2 Oregon commit the usual PAC-12 BCS suicide in its loss to #13 Stanford. Obviously, that moved Notre Dame to #1 and Alabama to #2. ND & ‘Bama can make its way to Miami for the National Championship Game by simply winning its last regular season game, and for Alabama, beating Georgia in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game. But, what if one or both lose?
As always, with the BCS it is not a matter of who you lose to, but when you lose and how you lose. The top-5 consists of ND, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida (ready for the four team playoff yet?) and if either of the top two fall you will likely have another all-SEC championship game.
None of us will like that, but that is the scenario. What’s more troubling is that the SEC could, and likely will, have four teams in the BCS this year. It will have at least one of its conference champions in the title game, one in the Sugar Bowl, and two other at-large teams. Who is the fourth team? Texas A&M, and yes, they deserve a BCS game.
Remember, as long as Notre Dame finishes in the eight (it will), it then becomes an automatic qualifier, thus reducing the amount of at-large bids that are available.
If the season were to end today here is how I believe the BCS games would be set:
NCG: Notre Dame & Alabama
Fiesta: Kansas State & Oregon
Sugar: Texas A&M & Oklahoma
Orange: Florida State & Louisville
Rose: Stanford & Nebraska