Will the SEC like the College Football Playoff as well as the BCS?

07/17/2014 5:52 PM

07/18/2014 12:31 AM

While few fans mourn the passing of the Bowl Championship Series, the computer-heavy formula used to determine the participants for college football’s national title the last 16 seasons, the Southeastern Conference could be forgiven for a moment’s grief.

After all, the controversial system, which has been replaced by the four-team College Football Playoff, was quite kind to the nation’s toughest football conference.

The SEC won nine BCS titles, including seven straight from 2006-12, before Florida State knocked off Auburn in last season’s final BCS national championship game.

No other conference won more than two BCS titles — a number matched or exceeded by Alabama (2009, 2011, 2012), LSU (2003, 2007) and Florida (2006, 2008).

The SEC, which went 9-2 in title games, also was the only conference with a winning record in the BCS championship and the only conference to have two teams meet in the title game — when Alabama beat LSU after the 2012 season.

“I think that the playoff system will be equally kind to the SEC,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “The reason I say that is because there’s just such quality competition here. The teams, week in and week out, are so prepared, so capable and talented. For them not to include one and possibly more in that playoff would be shortsighted.”

Still, there’s a degree of uncertainty.

“Nobody really knows how it’s going to affect us,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “I don’t know how the selection process is going to be made. I don’t know that anybody does until they get in that room and start selecting teams.”

The four semifinalists will be chosen by a 13-member selection committee in much the same way the field for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is set.

Six bowls — the Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta — will rotate as semifinal hosts on a three-year cycle with a standalone championship game on the second Monday in January. The committee will fill all six bowls.

Unlike the BCS, there will no longer be automatic qualifiers from any conference, but there also won’t be a limit on the number of teams from a conference that play in those games, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.

Conference tie-ins remain during non-semifinal seasons with the Rose Bowl (Big Ten and Pac-12), Sugar Bowl (Big 12 and SEC) and Orange Bowl (Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame).

The Sugar and Rose Bowls host the first semifinals for 2014-15 with the Orange and Cotton Bowls serving as semifinal sites the next season and the Peach and Fiesta Bowls rounding out the first cycle.

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas; University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.; and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., will hold the first three national championship games.

“I think it will be a huge learning curve for all of us this year — coaches, players, fans, media, everybody — to see how this is going to play out,” Mullen said.

That’s cause for concern, because the BCS wasn’t as maligned among coaches as it was by fans and the media.

“When you look at the history of the BCS, they usually got it right with their process,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who won three BCS championships with the Crimson Tide and another at LSU in 2003. “The criticism always came when there were more than two teams that were deserving.

“Now, the same thing is going to happen with a four-team playoff, because there’s always going to be a fifth team that could have been deserving that will create controversy.”

There is no controversy in college football circles about the College Football Playoff’s financial windfall.

During the final year of the BCS, the baseline revenue distribution for the five power conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — was $27.9 million. That figure is expected to approach $50 million during the next 12 seasons, according to official estimates published by USA Today.

The remaining Bowl Subdivision conferences are expected to split $75 million, which is a five-fold increase.

Of course, that is not the coaches’ primary concern.

“The key is you always want to look back on the season and say, ‘Hey, college football got it right,’” Mullen said. “The national champion was actually the best team in the country. Over the last several years, that’s happened. … As the new playoff goes, you hope that continues.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @todpalmer.

College Football Playoff schedule








National championship


Semifinal (Jan. 1)

Semifinal (Jan. 1)

Dec. 31

Jan. 1

Dec. 31

Dec. 31

Dallas (Jan. 12)


Jan. 1

Jan. 1

Semifinal (Dec. 31)

Semifinal (Dec. 31)

Dec. 31

Jan. 1

Phoenix (Jan. 11)


Jan. 2

Jan. 2

Dec. 31

Jan. 2

Semifinal (Dec. 31)

Semifinal (Dec. 31)

Tampa Bay (Jan. 9)

BCS title game records by conference


Championship game record

Champions (year)



Tennessee (1998), LSU (2003, 2007), Florida (2006, 2008), Alabama (2009, 2011, 2012), Auburn (2010)



Florida State (1999, 2013)

Big 12


Oklahoma (2000), Texas (2005)

Big East


Miami, Fla. (2001)

Big Ten


Ohio State (2002)



USC (2004)*



* Officially, USC vacated its 2004 championship

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