SEC unanimously supports top-four playoff model

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The postseason battle lines have officially been drawn.

In one corner of the future playoff ring is the Big Ten and Pac-12, which, along with the ACC and Big East, publicly favors a postseason model in which conference champions-only make the field, although the two heavyweight conferences appear willing to compromise by ensuring that the league winners are ranked in the top six or are replaced by a wildcard or wildcards if not.

In the other corner is the Big 12, which officially confirmed yesterday that it favors the highest-ranked teams, regardless of their conference standing, qualifying for what’s expected to be a four-team field.  Friday, and as expected, the SEC locked arms with its new postseason partner.

Commissioner Mike Slive confirmed at the close of his conference’s annual meetings that the SEC’s presidents/chancellors, athletic directors and head coaches unanimously support a playoff system that includes the four highest-ranked teams in the field.  That will be the conference’s official stance heading into a series of meetings this month, culminating with a meeting June 26 in Washington D.C. that’s expected to include an announcement for the postseason beginning in 2014.

How the SEC/Big 12 and Big Ten/Pac-12 will bridge their differences of opinion remains to be seen, although the reality is there isn’t that much of a gap between the the two favored models over the past decade.

As you can see by clicking HERE, in five of the 10 past 10 years — 2009, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2002 — the same four teams would’ve been involved in a playoff regardless of which of the two formats — and, yes, we’re assuming that the final playoff model will be one of the two — would’ve been utilized.  In another of those years (2011), the same conferences would’ve been represented, with the Pac-12 flipping between Stanford and Oregon depending on the model.

In the model favored by the SEC and Big 12, each conference would’ve placed 12 and eight teams, respectively, in the playoffs the past 10 years.  In the champs-only scenario, the SEC would’ve dropped by two teams to 10 — losing Alabama in 2008 and LSU in 2006 — while the Big 12 would’ve remained steady at eight playoff qualifiers.  Just once in the past decade — 2005 — would the SEC had no teams qualify under either format.

When it comes to the Big Ten and Pac-12, the two models ostensibly cancel out each other’s gains/losses.  In the model with the top four teams qualifying regardless, the Big Ten would’ve placed eight teams in the field and the Pac-12 seven.  In the model favored by the two conferences, the Big Ten gains one team and the Pac-12 loses one, with Wisconsin as conference champ replacing Stanford as a wildcard in 2010.

The Big East and ACC are essentially non-factors, with the former qualifying three teams — one of those, Miami, is now in the ACC — in their favored champs-only model and the latter just one team regardless of the model — Virginia Tech in 2007.

Four times in the past decade, a team from a non-Big Six conference would’ve qualified at least one of the formats, and neither answers to the name “Boise State”: TCU as winners of the Mountain West in 2009 and 2010, and Utah as winners of the same conference in 2004 and 2008.  Ironically enough, TCU is leaving the MWC for the Big 12 this year, while Utah left for the Pac-12 last year.

Obviously, and as we stated previously, there’s not a significant difference between the two models favored by the four most powerful conferences in college football, at least in the past decade.  At least publicly, however, the “c-word” is not yet part of the discussion.

We won’t compromise on (1-2-3-4),” Florida president Bernie Machen said Thursday. “I think the public wants the top four. I think almost everybody wants the top four.”

“You understand the Korean War is still on,” interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas bluntly stated today when asked if there could be a compromise in the postseason talks.

Despite the saber-rattling, we’re of the opinion, as are a lot of folks a helluva lot smarter than we are, that when it’s all said and done, the so-called 3-1 format — take the four highest-ranked conference champs provided they’re ranked in the top six, replace as many as necessary with wildcard selections — will be officially implemented at some point before the calendar turns to July.  Unless the college versions of Seoul and Pyongyang can’t come to their collective senses, of course.

FCS player who punched coach charged with felony assault

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Normally in-game violence doesn’t result in off-field legal ramifications, but this is (rightly) one of the rare exceptions.

Earlier this month, Tennessee State defensive end Latrelle Lee was not only dismissed from the FCS program but expelled from the university after he punched Tigers strength & conditioning coach T.J. Greenstone twice in the head on the sideline during a game.  Greenstone serves as TSU’s “get-back” coach for players, charged with keeping them from creeping toward the field of play and, in the process, keeping the team from drawing a flag.

The unprovoked assault was caught on video and quickly went viral.

As a result of that incident, Lee, who had been a criminal justice major prior to his expulsion, has been arrested on one count of felony assault, The Tennessean is reporting.  Lee was subsequently released Monday night after a $7,500 bond was posted, and has an initial court date scheduled for Dec. 8; he had been scheduled to graduate Dec. 9.

According to the arrest affidavit, “[t]he victim has subsequently been having medical difficulties as a result [of] the altercation.”

“We, of course, do not condone any act of violence within our department and are very disturbed by the action of one of our students,” a statement from athletic director Teresa Phillips released shortly after the Nov. 11 incident began. “We are committed to supporting the coach who was personally affected and our concern now is with him.”

Thus far, there has been no public comment from the football program or the university on this latest development, nor have they updated the status of the coach who was the victim of the assault.

Bovada pulls Heisman odds as Baker Mayfield’s ‘too big of a favorite’

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While Baker Mayfield‘s crotch-grabbing histrionics last weekend will cost him this weekend, the same can’t be said for his Heisman hopes — at least when it comes to wagering establishments.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold opened the 2017 season as Bovada.lv‘s favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, only to be overtaken after Week 1 by Louisville quarterback and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson — he was the prohibitive favorite in mid-September… only to see Jackson leapfrogged by the Oklahoma quarterback two weeks later… only to see Mayfield overtaken by Penn State running back Saquon Barkley — he was the overwhelming favorite in late October… only for Barkley to be overtaken by Mayfield the first week of November. Mayfield has been a steadily increasing favorite since, with last week’s odds featuring just him (as the overwhelming favorite at 1/20), Barkley and Love.

This week’s odds? There are none. From Bovada:

Heisman odds are currently off the board as Baker Mayfield is too big of a favorite. He was 1/20 last week and would be even bigger this week.

Other oddsmakers followed suit, as noted by ESPN.com:

MGM had Mayfield listed at -250 as of last Monday, when the book took the odds off the board in compliance with Nevada Gaming Control regulations. The Westgate SuperBook closed Mayfield as even a bigger favorite at -2,000 on Sunday.

Those odds were pulled, however, as the NGC requires all betting on the Heisman to cease on Nov.19, per ESPN. Bovada doesn’t fall under the auspices of the NGC, so they could’ve technically continued laying odds on Heisman race.

The assistant manager at Westgate confirmed to ESPN that the book is looking at a loss if (when?) Mayfield wins the Heisman. It’s likely that other books could very well be facing the same predicament.

Emotional Baker Mayfield discusses being stripped of captaincy for last game, Senior Day, in Norman

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Much-needed, hard lesson learned, maybe?

While he was subjected to a lack-of-class moment by Kansas in the pregame and then a couple of questionable hits during this past Saturday’s game, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield showed his backside by very graphically grabbing his front in a heated response.  While he truly apologized in the postgame aftermath, OU announced Monday that the Heisman Trophy front-runner will not start this weekend’s regular-season finale against West Virginia.

Not only that, Mayfield was stripped of his captaincy for that finale.  On Senior Day, his last-ever game in Norman no less.

That latter aspect of the punishment proved to be almost too much for Mayfield to deal with, with the quarterback becoming visibly emotional when discussing with the media his lost captaincy Monday night.

“Playing at OU was something that I always dreamed of,” Mayfield said. “Not starting, it is what it is.

“But not being a team captain is so much more. It would be hard if it were a regular game or not, but it being my last one here ever, it means a lot more. It’s going to be tough, because Saturday was going to be — without all of this — an emotional one. It’s going to be hard to handle, but … it’s going to be hard.”

OU has already secured one spot in the Big 12 championship game, most likely against TCU.  The Sooners are also ranked fourth in the most recent College Football Playoff Top 25 and will earn one of the four semifinal slots if they win their next two games.

Arkansas QB Cole Kelley returns from DUI-related suspension

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Arkansas’ one-time starting quarterback will return for the Razorbacks’ season finale. Whether he sees the field is another matter entirely.

Cole Kelley was arrested for driving while intoxicated and reckless driving earlier this month. A day after the arrest, Kelley was indefinitely suspended by the football program and missed UA’s Week 12 game.

Monday, that suspension officially came to an end after one game as head coach Bret Bielema confirmed that the redshirt freshman has rejoined the team.

“He’ll be back full-go with us again,” Bielema said by way of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  Left unsaid is whether Kelley will play in the Week 13 matchup with Missouri Friday afternoon, in part because he’s still recovering from an injury.

Austin Allen started the first five games of the season before going down with a shoulder injury. Kelley replaced him and started the next four, with Allen returning to his starting role the last two weeks against LSU and Mississippi State.

Kelley is 2-2 as the starter this year and Allen 2-5 for a Razorbacks team that won’t be going bowling for the first time since Bielema’s first season in 2013. This week’s game could also mark Bielema’s last as UA’s head coach.