Big 12’s strength needs to show to silence championship game criticism

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The Big 12 should either be forced to play a conference championship or every other conference should quit feeling threatened by the conference’s lack of a championship game, depending on whom you ask. The debate is one that may not have a definitive answer and should be one to pay attention to during the dawn of the College Football Playoff era.

Since dropping in membership from 12 to 10 after multiple realignment changes in recent years, the conference lost the ability to play a conference championship game under NCAA guidelines. The conference’s membership has been in unison in its stance by saying the Big 12 is perfectly fine not playing a conference championship game and selling the idea of a true conference champion with a nine-game conference schedule that pits every school against one another. While the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC will host conference championship games this season, the Big 12 is hoping the overall quality of depth in the conference will be enough to convince the playoff’s selection committee to strongly consider the Big 12 champion for the four-team playoff.

“The only thing that you really have to do after adopting ‘One True Champion’ as your moniker is you have to go out and win some games,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a story from the Associated Press. “We want to win national championships.”

Will the non-existence of a conference championship game continue in the Big 12 in the long run? Odds are it will change at some point, whether by expansion or receiving permission from the NCAA to hold a game with 10 members. The idea has been discussed and once it is determined having a championship game gives playoff candidates an edge over a Big 12 contender, the push from the Big 12 membership to return to a championship game will be vocal. I have thought that for a while, and Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com today agreed with that premise in his mailbag post today.

“Certainly if that happens you can count on the Big 12 bringing back its championship game as soon as possible,” Mandel said when asked about this very topic.

If you are wondering just how much of a big deal this conversation can be, you need to look back to the end of the wild 2007 season.

Ohio State, in 2007, ended its regular season ranked fifth in the country after beating rival No. 24 Michigan 14-3 in the final game of the season. With no conference championship game at the time, Ohio State was sitting on the outside looking in on the BCS Championship race with no more opportunities to make a dent. As it turned out, not having to play a 13th game may have served Ohio State well. In the time since Ohio State wrapped up its 2007 regular season, everything that needed to happen for the Buckeyes to play for the BCS championship seemed to fall into place.

A week after Ohio State edged Michigan, top-ranked LSU lost a shootout against Arkansas, knocking the Tigers out of the pole position for the BCS Championship Game. West Virginia, the following week needing a win to likely clinch a spot in the BCS Championship Game, was upset by Backyard Brawl rival Pittsburgh, 13-9. That same day saw Missouri playing for the Big 12 championship needing a win to clinch a spot in the BCS Championship game. The Tigers lost to Oklahoma. In the SEC Championship Game, LSU was given a chance to get back in the hunt with a win against Tennessee. Ranked fifth in the AP poll, LSU beat the Vols by a touchdown. LSU and Ohio State advanced to the BCS Championship Game as a result of all of this madness.On this day the college football world saw the benefits and risks of playing a conference championship game, as well as the benefit of not playing one (Ohio State).

Should the Big 12 bring back a conference championship game? Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments below.

Tennessee WR Jauan Jennings dismissed after Instagram tirade against Vols coaching staff

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The 2017 season just can’t end quick enough for Tennessee.

Proving that there have been much better days on Rocky Top, the school has reportedly and unexpectedly dismissed wide receiver Jauan Jennings from the team on Wednesday evening — just hours after the junior went on a tirade against the current coaching staff and posted it to his social media accounts.

Jennings reportedly went off earlier in the day at the staff and called them several choice, NSFW names in videos posted to his private Instagram account.

The receiver was somewhat of a surprise return to practice recently as it was expected he was going to miss the rest of the season after being injured in season opener against Georgia Tech. Jennings enter the year as an All-SEC third team selection in the preseason but was limited to just three catches for 17 yards the first half of the Vols’ first game.

Jennings could transfer to another school as he has a redshirt year available and likely would be able to receive a medical redshirt as well. Declaring for the NFL Draft seems the more likely scenario however but one thing is for certain: a return to Tennessee doesn’t look like it’s in the cards after Wednesday’s actions on both sides.

Arkansas names advisory committee for athletic director search to replace Jeff Long

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Arkansas needs a new athletic director so they’re doing what every enterprise in college athletics does when they need to get something done: form a committee.

The school announced on Wednesday that they had formed a seven person search committee to find the Razorback’s next athletic director after firing Jeff Long last week from the same position. Julie Cromer Peoples will continue to serve as the interim AD while Arkansas chancellor Joseph Steinmetz finds the next permanent name for the position.

The committee is quite a diverse group, headlined by LPGA golfer Stacy Lewis (who golfed for the school). Women’s track coach Lance Harter, Board of Trustees chairman Ben Hyneman, professor Gerald Jordan, architecture school dean Peter MacKeith, Razorback Foundation member Rick Massey, and former quarterback turned booster Bill Montgomery.

“I sought to assemble a committee representative of the university, spanning past and present in our academics and athletics history, with knowledge and perspective about Arkansas, and, notably an appreciation of the source of pride the Razorbacks are for the state of Arkansas,” Steinmetz said in a statement. “I have great faith in the approach that each of these advisors will bring to the process and I’d like to thank these folks for their time in this endeavor.”

It remains unclear what, if any, input the committee will have regarding the future of head coach Bret Bielema. His tenure was widely linked to that of Long’s and rumors have already surfaced that the school will quickly let the coach go and begin a full court press to land Auburn’s Gus Malzahn to replace him.

First up though is the team’s final game, which comes at home against Missouri on Friday. Arkansas, sitting at 4-7 on the season, has already been eliminated from bowl contention so the outing will be the team’s last before the future direction of the program gets decided.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco says league is being disrespected by Playoff selection committee

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Mike Aresco has gone full Rodney Dangerfield.

The AAC commissioner made the rounds with several national media folks on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after seeing a three-loss Mississippi State team jump the conference standard-barer Central Florida in the latest College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s Top 25 rankings. Not only is the American commish claiming that the Knights aren’t getting a “fair shake” by the committee as part of the disrespect shown toward his league, he’s also not happy that one-loss South Florida isn’t even making the cut for the top 25.

“I just don’t think our league is garnering the respect it deserves, period… I feel strongly about it. The evidence is in,” Aresco told ESPN. “We’ve tried to prove for five years how good our conference is. What do we have to do is my question, to prove that we’re a really good league, especially at the top? I just don’t like the notion that, well, strength of schedule, I don’t like to see UCF behind three- and two-loss teams, and I think they can play with anyone. I just don’t know what more we can do.”

Aresco later expanded on his comments and said UCF should be in the top 10 and ahead of two-loss teams like Ohio State.

The fact that Aresco is sticking up for his league and his teams are no surprise but the public way he is going about criticizing the selection committee is a much different tack than previously employed. The AAC remains all but a lock to secure the annual Group of Five bid, which should go to the conference champion among No. 15 UCF, No. 20 Memphis or unranked USF (which would have a chance to beat both of the others in the next two weeks).

CFP executive director Bill Hancock issued a very generic statement in response to Aresco’s comments but his latest salvos should make for some interesting questions next Tuesday when chairman Kirby Hocutt goes in front of the cameras to explain the next set of rankings.

Amid Jimbo Fisher rumors, Florida State continues to explore facilities upgrades

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Jimbo Fisher turned interest from LSU to be their head coach into one of the biggest coach-friendly contracts in the country. Could he be leveraging the same kind of interest from Texas A&M into further facilities upgrades? It appears so.

Hot on the heels of Houston Chronicle report that said Fisher is the top target to replace the eventually deposed Kevin Sumlin in College Station, the Orlando Sentinel says that the Seminoles are exploring a number of different options to give the football program their own sport-specific facility on campus.

“You have no idea,” Fisher told the paper on Monday when asked about the importance of a centralized complex. “Their days are strung out … the schedules they’re on and what they’re asked to do. When you’re wasting time in between, you’re wasting development time for them.”

The Sentinel reports that there are two leading options for the program, the first of which includes a renovation of the team’s current home, the Moore Athletic Center, that would also result in other Seminoles sports moving to a different area for office space and training facilities. The other option would include a brand new football complex that would be built right next to the current indoor practice facility. Things are still in the planning stage at this point but it certainly sounds like things are getting fast-tracked given everything that is going on in the college football world in Tallahassee and beyond.

Whether Fisher leaves or not, it’s pretty clear that Florida State will be looking to build a new football facility for the simple fact that they need to keep up with their peers in the state. Florida is set to break ground in December on their new facility and Miami should have their new indoor facility ready to go by the start of next season. Even USF has laid the groundwork for a $40 million project that will include the latest and greatest for the Bulls football team.