Report: conferences narrow postseason preferences to four

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With the clock ticking toward a resolution to major college football’s postseason future, it appears the men who will make recommendations to their collective bosses have whittled their original to-do list down from what was originally 50-60 possibilities to a manageable handful.

Included in that list?  A format that could include three semifinal games.  And, yes, you read that correctly.

According to Steve Weinberg of USA Today, and based on an outline obtained by the paper, BcS officials and conference commissioners have turned their focus to four options for college football’s postseason beginning in 2014, the season after the current BcS cycles ends.  The two-page summary obtained by the paper, prepared ahead of the next set of scheduled meetings on the issue later this month, states that while no options have been eliminated from consideration, there are four that are currently classified as the preference of the collective.

Below are the four preferences as outlined by the paper, with how each would’ve played out in 2011 as well as the individual format’s viability:

1. Status quo, using the system that’s been in place for a decade to determine a national champion.

Last year: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama, of course.

Viability: The fact it’s even one of the preferences is eyebrow raising to say the least, especially given the comments of late by many in positions of power that they sense a movement to shift away from the BcS and into some type of playoff.  While an unchanged postseason remains a far-fetched proposition, no one should ever put it past the “leaders” in the sport to conclude that all is well with the current system.  Especially when those very same leaders are considering…

2. A four-team playoff consisting of the four highest-ranked teams that would include two semifinal games… unless one or both of the champions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 are among the four highest-ranked teams, at which point the Rose Bowl would become a third semifinal game.  The next highest-ranked team(s) would replace the Big Ten/Pac-12 champs in one of the two true semifinal games, with the title game finalists being determined after those three “semifinals” have been played.  How it would be determined which two of the three winners would play in the title game is unclear.

Last year: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Stanford, No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State.  There would’ve been no third semifinal game as the Cardinal was not the Pac-12 champion; that honor went to Oregon, which won the inaugural conference championship game but was ranked No. 5 in the final regular season BcS rankings.  Whether the format would’ve impacted how the voters ranked Stanford/Oregon at the end of the regular/championship-game season is a matter that’s certainly up for debate.

Viability: ROTFLMAO!!!  LULZ!!!  Or whatever mocking ‘Net shorthand you want to attach to the mere idea that this was something proposed, let alone apparently being seriously considered.  Suffice to say, this proposal has Jim Delany‘s haughty ego written all over it, with a sprinkling of his Pac-12 counterpart, Larry Scott, thrown in for good measure.  In no way, shape or form is a format that includes three semifinal games an acceptable change.  Then again, the Big Ten has 12 members, so that conference has not been historically shy about flouting mathematics.  Based on this proposal, and the fact that the status quo is reportedly a serious consideration, it’s hard to believe the game’s leaders will do anything but — some how, some way — screw-up the future of college football’s postseason.  Short of reverting back to the old bowl system, I didn’t think that was even a remote possibility.

3. A true plus-one format, with the two participants in a title game squaring off after their bowl games have been completed.

Last year: It’s impossible — with any degree of accuracy, anyway — to determine how this format would’ve played out.  It’s fair to say that, if LSU and Alabama had both won their respective BcS bowls, they would’ve met for the crystal under this format.

Viability: This format has long enjoyed significant support among some of those with influence on the game’s future.  It’s far from optimal, but would have to be considered progress when compared to the status quo.  Or a three-semifinal format.

4. A seeded, four-team playoff.

Last year: Assuming the seeding is determined by the highest rankings, and not limited to conference champions-only as some want, the participants would look exactly the same as Option No. 2.

Viability: Common sense would suggest that, short of an eight-team playoff, this would be far and away the best option for getting beyond the current system.  Then again, with two of the options listed above reportedly in play, common sense may not have a seat at the table that will determine the future of the postseason.

As far as the latter proposal is concerned, there are still myriad details to refine if it’s in fact the format that is ultimately agreed upon.  USA Today details some of those too-be-determined issues:

• Fold entirely into existing bowls.

• Stage the semifinals and title game at neutral sites selected through a bidding process. A bowl or bowls could buy in, hosting the games atop their own annual events.

• Place semifinals in bowls, bidding out the championship site.

• Or play semifinals at campus sites, again bidding out the title game.

Also still to be worked out is the team-selection process. Will the BCS let its mathematical rankings — melding polls and computer ratings — determine who makes a four-team playoff cut? Will it change that formula? Could it go to a selection committee instead?

If I were the commissioner of college football, and an eight-team — or six- or 16-team or any other number plucked out of the air– playoff were not part of the equation?  A seeded four-team playoff involving the three highest-ranked conference winners plus the highest-ranked team that did not win its conference — unless the four highest-ranked teams are all conference winners, of course — with the latter team being the lowest seed regardless of its ranking to the other three teams.  Play the semifinal game in the home stadiums of the two top-seeded teams, with the title game bid out to cities on an annual basis.  Such a format would add some needed value to winning your conference and, with just four teams taking out of the selection pool, the bowls — Rose and otherwise — would survive just fine if such a limited playoff were implemented.

Getting back to the idea of an eight-team — or even larger — playoff format, and because I know it will be mentioned in the comments section below this post, anything above a four-team playoff, while it’s not necessarily been issued a death certificate, is on life support and family and friends have been called home to say their final goodbyes.

“The underlying theme of all this,” BcS executive director Bill Hancock (pictured) said, referring to little support for a format that would involve more than four teams, “is to protect the regular season. That keeps coming up and keeps coming up and keeps coming up. We have the best regular season in sports, and we don’t want to mess with it.”

Some would say that argument went out the window with this past season’s title game matchup, but that’s another story for another day.

A final decision from school presidents and conference commissioners on exactly how the postseason will look in 2014 and beyond is expected at some point before the end of summer this year.

Ohio State, Ryan Day agree to three-year contract extension

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Not surprisingly, it will continue to pay to be the Ohio State football head coach.

Tuesday morning, OSU announced it has agreed to a three-year extension for Ryan Day.  The coach is now signed through the 2026 season.

It should be noted that the agreement is pending approval by the Ohio State University Board of Trustees.

According to the school, Day will make $5.375 million from Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, OSU will make an employer contribution of $1 million to his retirement continuation plan on Dec. 31, 2020.  Day will then make $6.5 million in 2021 and $7.6 million in 2022.

“Increases to his compensation package after Feb. 1, 2023 will be determined by the director of athletics and approved by the Board of Trustees,” the school wrote.

In 2019, Day’s $4.5 million in guaranteed compensation was seventh in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally.

“Ryan Day’s management of this football program, from mentoring and leading our student-athletes in their academic pursuits and off-field endeavors to coaching them on the playing field, has been exceptional,” Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director Gene Smith said. “I am appreciative of his work. And I want to thank President Michael V. Drake for his leadership and the Board of Trustees for its work with this extension.”

In his first full season as the Ohio State football head coach, Day guided the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record.  After winning the Big Ten title, Day became the first OSU coach in four decades to be named as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.  Ohio State football also returned to the playoffs for the third time in six seasons.

Day is actually 16-1 as a head coach.  With Urban Meyer suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, the Buckeyes went 3-0 with Day as the acting head coach.

Spring football games schedule: Complete dates, times, TV options

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College football spring games? Certainly. Ready to watch? Probably (thanks to this spring football games schedule).

With the 2019 season fading into the rearview mirror, our attention has now turned to the 2020 campaign that, for now, seems far out on the horizon.  One of the first big steps in getting to next season, of course, is spring practice.  In most cases, those 15 spring practice sessions will culminate in some semblance of a spring game.

Below is a list of those college football spring games, complete with dates, times (Eastern) and, when appropriate, the television station on which they will be broadcast,

As of the initial posting, not all of the college football spring games and their dates have been released.  Some details, including times, are still to be determined as well.

This post will be updated as necessary throughout the next two months.

(Writer’s note: If any schools or fans of schools notice we’re missing already-available information, please shoot me the particulars at John.Taylor AT nbcuni.com)

March games

MARCH 5

Coastal Carolina, (other details to be determined)

MARCH 19

Arkansas State, 7:00 p.m.

MARCH 21

Charlotte, (other details to be determined)
San Diego State, 2:00 p.m.

MARCH 28

Western Michigan, (other details to be determined)
Tulane, 11:00 a.m.
San Jose State, 5:00 p.m.
Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Arizona)

April games

APRIL 3

Rice, (other details to be determined)
Buffalo, 3:00 p.m.
FIU, 6:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern, 7:30 p.m.
Georgia State, 7:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt, 8:00 p.m.

APRIL 4

Temple, (other details to be determined)
Troy, (other details to be determined)
Minnesota, noon
North Carolina State, 12:30 p.m.
Tulsa, 12:30 p.m.
South Carolina, 1:00 p.m. (SEC Network+)
UAB, 1:00 p.m.
Purdue, 2:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m.
UCF, 2:30 p.m.
Wake Forest, 3:00 p.m.
Louisiana-Monroe, 7:00 p.m.
Arizona, 8:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Arizona)

APRIL 9

Louisiana, (other details to be determined)

APRIL 10

Georgia Tech, (other details to be determined)
Cincinnati, 6:00
Texas Tech, 7:00 p.m.

APRIL 11

Cal, (other details to be determined)
Pitt, (ACC Network) (time to be determined)
Kentucky, noon (SEC Network+)
Ohio State, noon (Big Ten Network)
Mississippi State, 12:30 p.m.
Kent State, 1:00 p.m.
Utah, 1:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Mountain)
Auburn, 2:00 p.m.
Missouri, 2:00 p.m.
Eastern Michigan, 3:00 p.m.
USC, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Los Angeles)
Stanford, 4:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Bay Area)
Boise State, 5:30 p.m.

APRIL 17

Army, (other details to be determined)
Memphis, (other details to be determined)
Indiana, 7:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

APRIL 18

Ball State, (other details to be determined)
Baylor, (other details to be determined)
Florida, (other details to be determined)
Florida Atlantic, (other details to be determined)
Georgia, (other details to be determined)
Kansas, (other details to be determined)
Louisiana Tech, (other details to be determined)
LSU, (other details to be determined)
Oklahoma, (other details to be determined)
Texas A&M, (other details to be determined)
UCLA, (other details to be determined)
USF, (other details to be determined)
UTSA, (other details to be determined)
Akron, noon
Bowling Green, noon
Michigan, noon
SMU, noon
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
West Virginia, 1:00 p.m.
Miami of Ohio, 1:30 p.m.
Penn State, 1:30 p.m. (FS1)
Alabama, 2:00 p.m.
Middle Tennessee State, 2:00 p.m.
Nebraska, 2:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
North Carolina, 3:00 p.m. (ACC Network)
Old Dominion, 3:00 p.m.
Oregon State, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Oregon)
Western Kentucky, 3:00 pm.
Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Michigan State, 4 p.m.
Tennessee, 4:00 p.m.
Florida State, 5:00 p.m.
Oregon, 5:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Oregon)
Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m.

APRIL 25

Arkansas, (other details to be determined)
Nevada, (other details to be determined)
Texas, (other details to be determined)
UMass, (other details to be determined)
Southern Miss, 1:00 p.m.
Marshall, 2:00 p.m.
Colorado, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Mountain)
Washington State, 3:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Washington)
Rutgers, 4:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 6:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network/Washington)

Minnesota hires ex-Michigan State DBs coach Paul Haynes as CBs coach

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In filling a hole on his Minnesota football coaching staff, P.J. Fleck turned to an assistant with recent Big Ten experience.  And head-coaching experience on top of that for good measure.

The Minnesota football program announced Monday the hiring of Paul Haynes.  Specifically, Haynes will serve as the Golden Gophers’ cornerbacks coach.

Haynes will replace Rod Chance, who left the Minnesota football program earlier this month to take the job as cornerbacks coach at Oregon.

The past two seasons, Haynes was the defensive backs coach at Michigan State in his second stint with the B1G school.  For the five years prior to that, the 51-year-old Ohio native was the head coach at Kent State.

In those five seasons, the Golden Flashes compiled a record of 14-45 overall and 9-30 in MAC play.  In November of 2017, Haynes was officially relieved of his duties.

In 2012, Haynes was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Arkansas.  From 2005-11, Haynes was on the staff at Ohio State.  After serving as defensive backs coach his first six seasons, Haynes was the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2011.

Haynes’ first stint at MSU came in 2003-04 as defensive backs coach.  The year prior to that, he served in the same job at Louisville.

New Year’s Day, Minnesota football capped off a historic season with an Outback Bowl upset of Auburn.  The 11 wins were the program’s most since they won 13 in 1904.  Minnesota’s only other seasons with 10 or more wins came in 1900, 1903, 1905 and 2003.

The hiring of Haynes completes a reshuffling of Fleck’s coaching staff.

Mel Tucker adds two more assistants to first Michigan State coaching staff

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Less than two weeks after his hiring, Mel Tucker‘s first Michigan State football coaching staff is nearly complete.

Monday, MSU confirmed that Tucker has added Ross Els and William Peaglerc to his Spartans staff.  Els will serve as special teams coordinator, Peagler as running backs coach.

Tucker is very familiar with both of his new hires.

Els was the inside linebackers coach at Colorado for the past three seasons.  During Tucker’s Boulder one-and-done, the 30-year coaching veteran added special teams coordinator to his linebacking duties.

In 2016, the 54-year-old Els was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Purdue.  He also spent time on FBS staffs at:

  • Nebraska, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator/recruiting coordinator (2012-14)
  • Nebraska, linebackers coach (2011)
  • Ohio, assistant head coach/linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2010)
  • Ohio, linebackers coach/special teams coordinator (2007-09)
  • Ohio, linebackers coach (2005-06)
  • New Mexico State, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2003-04)
  • New Mexico State, safeties/special teams coach (2001-02)

“Ross has been a Power 5 defensive coordinator and does an excellent job with special teams,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “His attention to detail is outstanding and he’s a great teacher. He also develops great relationships with his players, which makes him a great recruiter as well. His experience will definitely help our staff.”

The 34-year-old Peagler, meanwhile, was the director of quality control for the offense last season at Colorado for Tucker last year.  The Clemson graduate has never been an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

At Power Five programs, Peagler has served as a quality control assistant for offense at Minnesota (2016) and a graduate assistant at Georgia (2017).

“William has an excellent understanding of offensive concepts,” a statement on Peagler from the Michigan State football coach began. “He really gets it. He also has experience working with (offensive coordinator) Jay Johnson, and has been at some high-level programs, including Clemson and Georgia. He’s a multi-talented coach and I think he is a rising star.”

With the hirings of Peagler and Els, Tucker has officially added nine of his 10 on-field assistants.

The weekend before last, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.  Last Wednesday, former first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Courtney Hawkins returned to East Lansing to coach the same position he played for the Spartans.  A day laterJay Johnson was confirmed as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and Harlon Barnett was brought back as defensive backs coach.  A day after that, Tucker pried Ted Gilmore away from Wisconsin to serve as MSU’s tight ends coach.