Bill Hancock

Additional bowl to be added to playoff mix?

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It’s been nearly three months since the June approval of a four-team playoff that will be in place for the 2014 postseason.

While the who/what/where/how details have been few and far between, it was initially thought that the two semifinal games — the title game will be bid out — would come from a rotation of six current bowl games.  As it turns out, the new system’s eyes may have not been big enough for the playoff’s immense financial stomach.

Following an ongoing set of meetings involving conference commissioners, BcS executive director Bill Hancock confirmed that the group is considering adding a seventh game to the previously-planned rotation, another bowl that would add to the “marquee” of the revamped FBS postseason.  While Hancock technically spoke of access — presumably referring to the non-BcS conferences — to the new postseason table…

“They created a playoff and they had a working concept for access, but they knew that more conversations were needed. There was discussion about access and whether another game might be necessary. There was. … But how it comes out, we don’t know.”

… he’s practically referring to greater potential access to higher-revenue bowls for members of “The Big 5.5” conferences.  And further devaluing the already overvalued 20-ish other much lesser bowls in the process, but that’s another story for another day.

That said, and regardless of whether it’s a six- or seven-bowl rotation, there’s the question of which bowls will or would actually be a part of the playoff equation.

There are two bowls already contractually locked in — the Rose and Orange bowls.  The for-now-dubbed Champions Bowl, which in theory would pit the winners of the SEC and Big 12 against each other, will be locked in once the t’s and i’s are crossed and dotted, respectively.  The host site nod for that new bowl, at least initially, is expected to go to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, although Houston is reportedly very serious in its bid to land the game as well.

The Fiesta Bowl, despite its excessive graft past, will be another piece of the rotation.  That’s four.  The Sugar Bowl?  Another no-brainer, whether it’s part of a potential Champions Bowl rotation or not.

That makes five and leaves one or possibly two bowls left to be a part of the rotation.

The Cotton Bowl and Jerry Jones’ Ode to Excess Stadium is one significant double-dipping possibility, given the Dallas Cowboys owner’s propensity for throwing gobs of cash at the opportunity to host college football games.  Could the Champions Bowl, at Jerry World, as well as the Cotton Bowl, at Jerry World, be two-sixth or two-seventh of the playoff rotational equation?  As they say, money talks and bullsh…

It appears, then, there could be at least three bowls fighting for what right now would be a not-yet-created seventh spot in the rotation — the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl.  The smart money, right now, would be on the Atlanta game.

Regardless of how the bowl rotation plays out, there are other, even more overriding factors on several levels that will play a significantly more important role in determining the success or failure of the FBS power structure’s attempt to move on from the train wreck that was the BcS:

— As far as fans or anyone else who cares anything at all about the sport are concerned, the makeup of the committee that will determine the four teams — yes, it should at least be an eight-team field; it’s not, so get past it — should be far and away the most important discussion point as it pertains to the new postseason system.  Hancock, who said he was in favor of a committee consisting of 15-20 individuals, was kind enough to offer a non-update update on that part of the equation:

“The working model has been that every conference would have a representative. And then that there would be enough people on the committee to accommodate recusals. The concept being that when your institution is discussed you would be recused.”

There are currently 11 FBS conferences for football, soon to be 10 once the WAC is officially put out of its misery.  There will then be six major/BcS conferences, four non-BcS conferences as part of the working model; you do the math on how the voting will go with a committee that consists of every FBS conference having a representative, and how access to the six or seven marquee bowls will play out.

— As far as the conferences and individual schools are concerned, however, how the revenue is distributed and protecting the brand “historic” leagues have developed — lookin’ at you, Delany — in the new postseason format is at or near the top of the list of concerns.

“The first championship game is 28 months away. And so the highest priorities are going to have to go to the television contract and site selection.”

We included this just to emphasize the fact that, despite the “progress” when it comes to the postseason, it remains all about the money student-athletes can make for a university by simply playing a game.

Fairness, equity or inclusion, thy name is not part of the latest big-time college football postseason ruse.

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett officially withdraws from school

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.

After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.

“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”

Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.

Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.

Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez wants changes to Big Ten scheduling

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Acting head coach Barry Alvarez of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on from the bench before the start of the Outback Bowl against the Auburn Tigers on January 1, 2015 during  at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Wisconsin has been one of the pleasant surprises to begin the 2016 season but a lot of folks are not counting on the Badgers to remain in the top 10 of the polls after one of the most brutal schedules in the month of October you can find.

Having already played (and beat) defending conference champion Michigan State last week, Wisconsin travels to No. 4 Michigan, has a bye week, then hosts No. 2 Ohio State. They’re not done after that though, traveling to Iowa and then hosting No. 15 Nebraska in a stretch that should determine the West division champion before the month is up.

Longtime head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez is well aware of what awaits his team and is no fan of such an unbalanced schedule.

“I remember when that schedule came out (in 2013) and I thought, ‘How the hell did you kick out something looking like that?” Alvarez told CBSSports.com. “I think you could take a look at the general strength of some programs and split them up. Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State have been good for a long time. Penn State Nittany Lions normally is in that group. Just make sure someone doesn’t get all three year in a year. That’s hard to do. That’s something the ADs are going to have to talk about some day.”

The Big Ten recently moved to a nine game conference slate which means an additional crossover game between divisions. Wisconsin has been the beneficiary of some weaker schedules in the past (Rutgers/Maryland in 2014/15) but seem to be the poster child this year for drawing all of the major powers from the East division.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany cautioned against reading too much into the Badgers’ schedule in 2016 and wants to see how the current format works out — but didn’t rule out any future changes.

“If I was an AD, I would probably be saying the same thing (as Alvarez),” Delany said. “If I was a football coach, I know I would.”

The conference has released the league schedule through 2019 but you can bet the next set of Big Ten games will likely break up some of the more historically successful programs a little more when it comes to division crossover games. Until then though, ‘On Wisconsin’ will have to be more than the school motto in October for Alvarez and his Badgers.

Pick problems lead Bowling Green to make a change at QB

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 3:  James Knapke #3 of the Bowling Green Falcons is sacked by Nick Bosa #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the fourth quarter on September 3, 2016 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Bowling Green 77-10. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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In 118 pass attempts this season, James Knapke has tossed nine interceptions, the most of any FBS quarterback through Week 4.  Entering Week 5, Bowling Green isn’t planning on allowing the senior quarterback to add to that total.

In a brief statement Thursday morning, BGSU head coach Mike Jinks announced that redshirt freshman James Morgan will start at quarterback Saturday against Eastern Michigan.  Morgan replaced Knapke in the loss to Memphis last week after the starter tossed three interceptions.

Morgan himself hasn’t been averse to turnovers, however, as he has thrown three in 46 attempts.

After Matt Johnson went down with a season-ending injury in the 2014 opener, Knapke took over as the starter and threw for 3,173 yards, 15 and 12 interceptions.  A healthy Johnson (shut it, 12-year-olds) reclaimed his job in 2015, but Knapke took over again in 2016 as Johnson’s eligibility expired.

Not only are Knapke’s interceptions the most in the country, but his pass efficiency rating of 88.4 is the worst of the 121 FBS quarterbacks listed on the NCAA.com stats page.

Wisconsin loses kicker Rafael Gaglianone to season-ending surgery

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 03:  Rafael Gaglianone #27 of the Wisconsin Badgers makes a field goal during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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As far as kickers go, this is a rather significant development.

Last week, Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone did not make the trip to East Lansing for the Michigan State game because of a back issue.  Not only will the placekicker miss this Saturday’s game against No. 4 Michigan, he will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2016 season after undergoing back surgery.

According to the school, Gaglianone’s condition improved Sunday but subsequently worsened.  It was then decided that the junior would undergo the medical procedure.

A similar back injury, the school said, led Gaglianone to miss spring practice last year.

“You’re disappointed for Rafael because of all the work he’s put in and how well he was playing,” head coach Paul Chryst said in a statement. “From a football perspective, I’ve appreciated the way the other guys in that unit have responded this week.”

This season, Gaglianone has connected on seven of eight field goal attempts and all 10 extra points.  Included in that total was what turned out to be the game-winning field goal in the opener against LSU at Lambeau Field.

Including this season, Gaglianone, who will be eligible for a medical hardship waiver, has been good on 44-57 field goals in his career and all but two of his 111 point afters.

With Gaglianone sidelined, the Badgers will turn to Andrew Endicott.  The senior, who hadn’t previously attempted a field goal or extra point at the collegiate level, made 1-1 of the former and 3-4 of the latter in replacing Gaglianone against MSU.