Additional bowl to be added to playoff mix?

12 Comments

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.

WATCH: Ole Miss Baker Mayfields its flag on Mississippi State’s field

Getty Images
1 Comment

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Heading into Week 13, three-loss Mississippi State, ranked 14th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings for whatever reason, was a 16-point favorite over Egg Bowl rival Ole Miss for Thursday night’s game in Starkville.  The loss of starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to a gruesome first-half injury all but sealed the Bulldogs’ fate; A.J. Brown‘s all-game production proved to be the dagger in sealing that fate, putting an exclamation point on the Rebels’ third win in the in-state rivalry the last four years.

As to how it all ties in to the lede?  The visiting Rebels decided to go all Baker Mayfield on Stark Vegas’ midfield after the win…

… not long after the same player who planted the flag hiked his leg like a dog, feigning urinating on the Davis Wade Stadium field.

There could very well be two different coaches in charge when the next Egg Bowl rolls around, but this will always be, regardless of who is on the sidelines, one of the most vitriolic rivalries in all of college sports.  Or sports, period.

A.J. Brown powers Ole Miss to Egg Bowl win over No. 15 Mississippi State

Getty Images
2 Comments

No. 14 Mississippi State lost their quarterback, lost the game, lost the Egg Bowl trophy and lost a year’s worth of rivalry trash talk in one fell swoop on a chilly Thanksgiving evening at home. To add insult to injury, they lost all that at the hands of a Starkville native to boot as star receiver A.J. Brown powered Ole Miss to their sweetest victory of the year over their in-state rivals 31-28.

The Rebels needed just three plays and 39 seconds to open the scoring in what was perhaps the team’s best all-around game in several weeks, showing no signs of any tryptophan-induced sluggishness following a traditional turkey day meal. Brown finished the game with 167 yards receiving and a 77 yard touchdown to cap off a terrific return to his hometown in opposing colors, while tailback Jordan Wilkins also chipped in with another 110 yards and two scores on the ground to pace the offense.

The old Landshark defense also made an appearance, with the second worst team in all of FBS when it came to forcing turnovers managing to secure a whopping five turnovers and three sacks.

While the loss was undoubtedly disappointing for the Bulldogs, most of the team’s attention was on their star quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald. He entered the game on the verge of another 2,000 yard passing/1,000 yard rushing season but was tackled awkwardly on a three yard run early in the first quarter. Replays showed his ankle to be facing a much different direction than it should as part of a gruesome scene and the signal-caller was carted off to the team’s medical facilities shortly thereafter amid a raucous applause from fans on both sides.

Fitzgerald later returned to the sidelines to cheer on his teammates but it certainly appears that his promising season is over as Mississippi State turns their attention to a bowl game in the coming weeks.

Stepping in at quarterback was freshman Keytaon Thompson, who was much more of a threat with his legs than his arm until a few late drives. He finished the night with 195 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a team-high 121 yards rushing (with another score) in relief. Tailback Aeris Williams managed to rack up 82 yards and a score but faced a stacked line of scrimmage at every turn given the injury to his veteran teammate.

While the injury to Fitzgerald overshadowed the game, the backdrop of Ole Miss’ NCAA infractions case loomed large over the rivalry as much as the game itself. The two schools’ fan bases have been quite chippy and MSU linebacker Leo Lewis — a central figure in the case — was kept in check to the tune of two tackles and a half a sack as the Rebels didn’t attack him like some thought they would.

Perhaps more pressing to some Bulldogs fans is if that was the last Egg Bowl they would see with head coach Dan Mullen patrolling the sidelines. His name has been linked to openings at Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska and others in the past few weeks and there is a growing expectation that the most successful coach in school history could have just donned the maroon and white for the final time in a loss.

That’s of no concern across the way as interim coach Matt Luke did a good job rallying the team to their sixth win of the season. The Rebels are not bowl eligible as part of self-imposed sanctions but the satisfaction of beating their rivals probably takes the sting out of that fact just a little bit, especially with a Starkville native like Brown leading the way on Thursday night.

Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald suffers gruesome ankle injury to spoil first half of the Egg Bowl

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Egg Bowl has returned to Thanksgiving but the game hasn’t gone quite as planned for No. 14 Mississippi State, as they trail Ole Miss 10-6 after a low-scoring first half of play thanks to a shocking injury that brought both sides of the heated rivalry to their feet in unison.

That came early in the first quarter when Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was tackled after a three-yard run, suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the process that saw his foot point in a direction it certainly wasn’t supposed to. He was put in an air cast and carted off the field to perform x-rays immediately afterward and needless to say will not return to the game.

The productive signal-caller was just 1-of-5 passing with an interception and 16 yards rushing when he went down with the injury. Fitzgerald was approaching the 2,000 yard passing and 1,000 yard rushing marks for the season heading into the game and received plenty of support from his fellow football players around the SEC and beyond after suffering such a horrific-looking injury that appears to knock him out for the rest of 2017.

Freshman Keytaon Thompson replaced Fitzgerald behind center and went 3-of-5 passing for 32 yards and an interception. He’s known for his running ability at this stage and did manage a team-high 65 yards on the ground, including a 32 yard scamper. Running back Aeris Williams was fairly limited facing a stacked box against a new quarterback and ran for 41 yards in the half as turnovers (three of them) really hampered MSU in the half.

With Ole Miss ineligible for postseason play even if they won on Thursday night, it was not at all surprising to see the Rebels play better than they have in a long time. The team needed just three plays and 39 seconds on their opening possession to find the end zone and were punching far above their weight defensively too. Wide receiver A.J. Brown was the big play threat once again for the offense, with five catches and 90 yards after just a half of play. In the process, he set a new school single-season record for receiving yards and joined kicker Greg Wunderlich (all-time school leader in FG’s) in the record books for the visitors as they look to  get a little bit of payback for last year’s 55-20 loss in Oxford.

The two programs have split the last six meetings in the hotly contested Egg Bowl rivalry and both appear locked into another close one after a half of play. It’s too bad that an injury to an all-SEC player had to spoil things early on but both the Bulldogs and the Rebels will have to put that behind them as they emerge from the locker room hoping to secure a win after years worth of bad blood.

Odell Beckham Jr. gifts LSU players recently unveiled custom shoes ahead of regular season finale

Getty Images
2 Comments

LSU has produced plenty of NFL stars in recent years but few identify with the Tigers quite like New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. does. The Baton Rouge native recently released his first “lifestyle” shoe with Nike last week and has been hitting the press circuit almost as hard as the rehab room as a result to showcase the new kicks.

Not one to forget where he went to school and blossomed into a first round pick, Beckham filmed a video for LSU’s football team this week and really gave the Tigers something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving by giving every player on the team a version of the shoe to wear when they’re suiting up in cleats.

The color isn’t quite a true match for LSU gold but it’s certainly pretty close and even comes with the longitude and latitude of Baton Rouge inscribed. You can probably bet that the team will be wearing them to Tiger Stadium prior to taking on Texas A&M on Saturday in the regular season finale for both sides.