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John Currie talks Big 12/SEC bowl game, bowls vs. playoff and what’s next for Big 12

By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star

While catching up with Kansas State athletic director John Currie over the weekend, I asked him about a ton of different topics. Much of what we talked about was for upcoming stories that will run in the newspaper throughout May and June, but he also shared his thoughts on several pressing matters, such as the new Big 12/SEC champions bowl game, how future bowl games may or may not exist alongside a playoff and the upcoming spring Big 12 meetings.

Here are the highlights:

The Big 12/SEC bowl game, along with the four-team playoff being proposed, could dramatically alter the postseason in college football. How do you see that mixing in with current bowl games?

I have always been a proponent of the bowl system and the bowl experience. It will always be my hope that we can continue to preserve that bowl experience and provide the opportunity for student-athletes to have that opportunity along with alumni, fans, marching band and cheerleaders. We’ll see, I’m encouraged by some of the models that are out there on the playoff. We have had some healthy debate about it, but it is yet to be determined. We still don’t know what it will look like. But back to your question, although I have always been a bowl proponent, I believe that if we end up with a plus-one or a three-game playoff it will be a very positive thing for college football.

Do you want bowl games to be part of the playoff? Or do you want those to remain separate?

There are pros and cons both ways. I would love us to find a way to enhance and protect the bowl system and the bowl experience. There are a lot of opinions on how you do that. At the same time, the opportunity to make things more transparent and understandable for the general public, for our fans and student-athletes would be fine.

There’s talk that college football might soon require teams to win seven games instead of six to qualify for bowl games. Are you in favor of that proposal?

Our conference has been unanimous that we believe that the six-win qualification is the appropriate number, and I certainly believe that as well. I can see how some schools wouldn’t want that, but from my perspective when you have student-athletes, band members, cheerleaders and alumni who want to have the bowl experience I’m not in favor of limiting — arbitrarily — the access for that. I also believe that in a conference like ours, that is so incredibly competitive whether you play eight or nine games, if you increase the minimum requirement to seven wins it will destroy inter-conference scheduling. That will just take away any incentive or any rational reason to schedule games of inter-regional attraction.

You said the Big 12 is unanimous on that. Is that something you voted on?

I’m not sure we had an official vote. Maybe we did, I can’t remember. But we talked about it in March when we were in Kansas City.

The conference will meet again next week for its spring meetings. Is there anything specific you would like to discuss while there?

We are on a really positive trajectory. The addition of our incoming commissioner is going to be tremendous. These meetings will also be a terrific opportunity to say goodbye to Chuck Neinas, who has done a wonderful job. I would also say that we should recognize our conference staff. It has been a trying couple years for all the schools as we have gone through various transition and metamorphosis. From the associate commissioners to the secretaries, I think this is a good opportunity to recognize people who really remained strong throughout a really interesting time.

With the Big 12 on stable ground, do you have any thoughts on expansion or what you you think the league’s next big project should be?

Well, in a time like this is you don’t want to stand still. You either move forward or you move backwards. Even though we made it through some difficult situations, we’ve got to continue to figure out and be out there working to anticipate how things are going to evolve. What comes next? That’s why the announcement of the relationship between the Big 12 and the SEC is so important. It’s a proactive step instead of a reactive step. It was a validating step for the Big, and a very good step for the league. But again, it has been wonderful and continues to be wonderful to work with these people who hung in there when people around the country didn’t understand what we understood. We did have something that was worth fighting for. Now we seem to be on a very nice trajectory, and it’s nice to have others see what we always saw.

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