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Let the College Football Playoff chaos commence after Week 11’s shakeup

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On a day that saw two of the top three teams lose and one more top 10 team go down in defeat in mid-November, the College Football Playoff race may as well have thrown up the caution flag coming down the final stretch. But how much has really changed in the latest College Football Playoff outlook? Losses in mid-November are not quite as catastrophic as they used to be under previous championship models, but the path to the playoff has clearly become more treacherous for schools like Notre Dame and TCU, while the path has become more clear for schools like Miami and Wisconsin. And there may even be a small handful of two-loss teams to keep a close eye on these next few weeks, beginning with Auburn.

Auburn’s victory over Georgia was the loudest statement made on Saturday. No team has managed to get into the four-team College Football Playoff in the brief history of the system, but Auburn is hoping they can become the first after routing the committee’s top-ranked team the past two weeks. We’ll find out how much stock the committee will put in that blowout win on Tuesday night when the new rankings come out. The committee will have some very interesting decisions to make regarding Auburn. For starters, where will a two-loss Auburn rank compare to an undefeated Wisconsin? The Badgers have struggled to win over the committee so far, but a defensive exhibition of excellence of their own against Iowa on Saturday is not to be overlooked. The committee had the Big Ten’s last undefeated team just two spots ahead of two-loss Auburn last week, and Auburn’s win over Georgia was arguably more impressive than Wisconsin’s. Pay close attention to the gap between those two this week.

What will be uncontested is who will be No. 1. After being ranked No. 2 the past two weeks and getting out of Mississippi State with a win, the committee will more than likely place Alabama atop their ranking this week, setting the stage for a mammoth Iron Bowl in two weeks after the SEC’s cupcake week in Week 12. But how high is Miami about to move up following their win against Notre Dame? Ranked seventh coming into their big showdown with No. 3 Notre Dame, and the Hurricanes annihilated the Fighting Irish. Miami feels like a lock to be added to the top four this week, joining Alabama, Oklahoma, and Clemson in some order.

That leaves out the Big Ten for now, and the Pac-12 is in some trouble as well after Washington was taken down by Stanford Friday night. But the Big Ten and Pac-12 also have some interesting two-loss conference champions scenarios to have fun with. If Ohio State and USC win their conferences with two losses, how close could either come to a playoff spot? And where would each rank against a two-loss Notre Dame?

WHO IS STILL REALISTICALLY IN THE RUNNING?

Alabama – The Crimson Tide are undefeated in the SEC after getting out of Starkville with a gritty win.

Georgia – That was a tough loss to take, but the possibility of a 12-1 season with the SEC championship means Georgia is not down and out by a long shot yet.

Auburn – Auburn will remain in the running until they lose another game. Simple as that.

Miami – The U is back! Heading to their first ACC Championship Game and facing the Clemson Tigers should be fun.

Clemson – Playoff committee has given the defending national champs the upper hand on a bunch of teams, but some argue they should be passed over by some others. Regardless of how you feel, one-loss Tigers are absolutely in the running and a 12-1 ACC champ is hard to reject.

Oklahoma – Your Big 12 team to beat, led by the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. Oklahoma is likely the only Big 12 team with a realistic shot at the playoff at this point.

Wisconsin – Just win, and they’ll very likely be in.

Ohio State – Wins against Penn State and Michigan State help soften the blow of two losses, as bad as those losses were. Take down improving Michigan on the road and unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, and Ohio State would have an interesting case to make.

Notre Dame – The Irish picked a rough day to get blown out, with the only other team to beat them also getting clobbered. We’ll see how far the Irish fall. For now, we’ll keep them on the edge of the radar just to be safe, but it does not look promising for the Irish.

USC – Remember the Trojans? Like Ohio State, USC is sort of lingering around on the edge of the playoff radar with two losses, but if the Trojans end the year with two losses they could benefit from a few teams ahead of them going down. Avenging a loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game would help their chances some, but USC would need a decisive blowout to help make the final push with two losses.

WHAT ABOUT UCF?

At No. 18 in the playoff rankings last week, the Knights appear to continue be quite the long shot even if they go 13-0. UCF is still the team to beat for the Group of Five’s New Years Six spot, just as Western Michigan was a year ago. UCF fans shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the playoff.

BIGGEST WINNER OF THE WEEK

Wisconsin – Say what you will about Auburn, but the Tigers taking down Georgia may have been more beneficial for Wisconsin. If the Badgers manage to go 13-0 with the Big Ten championship, their argument at the end of the season would gain some strength. And the possibility of two SEC teams making the College Football Playoff took a hit (although not entirely eliminated), and Notre Dame taking a second loss could open up a spot in the playoff. If Wisconsin takes care of their business, they’ll stand an excellent chance of getting in.

BIGGEST LOSER OF THE WEEK

Notre Dame – Without a conference championship game to play in, the Irish can go no better than 10-2 this season. Given the heavy competition for four spots, that could be difficult for the Irish to reach the playoff. The best-case scenario for Notre Dame would be to end the season 10-2 and have the fourth spot come down to them or the Pac-12 champion, which could end up being a USC team they trounced in South Bend or a Stanford team they beat at the end of the regular season. They won’t win head-to-head debates with a number of other teams in the mix now.

Proposed California amendment would cap coaches salaries at $200,000

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Some states do everything they can to help out athletics programs in their borders, that is something that California has never really been accused of doing. A state-wide travel ban has already caused some ripples with regards to scheduling for some teams and it seems lawmakers in Sacramento are back with a new constitutional amendment that could hamper schools ability to pay their coaches.

UCLA student paper The Daily Bruin passes along news that a new constitutional amendment was announced last week “that aims to restrict the University of California’s autonomy by reducing staff salaries, the length of regents’ terms and the authority of the UC president.” That first item is the biggest to take note of, which would institute a cap on non-faculty salaries to $200,000 per year — something that would affect everybody from coaches to the athletic director and everybody in between.

The University of California (UC) system most notably includes Pac-12 schools like UCLA and Cal, which means coaches like Chip Kelly and Justin Wilcox could be affected. To take Kelly as an example, he signed a five-year contract worth a total of $23.3 million when he was hired by the Bruins this offseason.

Head football coaches salaries are not typically paid completely by a school directly however, so there is some wiggle room should this amendment wind up passing. Often a separate athletics organization will foot most of the bill using funds raised from donors while other outside companies sometimes also get involved. Things might be a little more interesting when it comes to assistant’s salaries or non-football/men’s basketball head coaches and support staffers however, who could fall under the purview of the cap.

In other words, some creative accounting practices might have to be implemented by schools like UCLA or Cal or else they’ll be at a significant disadvantage compared to their private school peers like USC or Stanford as well as conference rivals like Arizona or Oregon.

It’s far from certain the amendment will pass given that it requires a two-thirds vote in the state legislature as well as passing muster on a state-wide ballot measure during a general election. We don’t typically see college coaches wade too far into political waters but, in this case, they might be forced to because its one that directly affects their wallets.

Arkansas moving back to natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in 2019

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It’s a new era at Arkansas with Chad Morris and a new athletic director in charge and not even the turf will be spared from seeing changes.

Per the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the school will be moving to a natural grass field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium instead of replacing their current artificial turf again as it nears the end of its lifespan.

“Let me say my preference is I love natural grass,” Morris told the paper a few months ago. “That’s just me. Maybe that’s just the high school coach in me.

“Worrying about what the next surface out here looks like is irrelevant to me. I just want to get through a practice and get better today. But I prefer, I’m a natural grass type of guy. I love being on a grass field. There’s nothing better than that in college football, or football period.”

Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek confirmed this weekend that the change was being made in Fayetteville after the 2018 season concludes. The current turf was put in back in the Bobby Petrino era in 2009 and will need to be replaced after a decade or so of heavy use.

This will not be the end of Razorbacks playing on turf however, as they will not only see the stuff for games at neutral sites and at other SEC opponents but also when they make their annual trek to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock — which had turf installed a dozen years ago.

West Virginia President on old Big 12 expansion craze: “It was a little bit messy”

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E. Gordon Gee is one of college athletics’ most recognizable figures, which isn’t exactly what you typically say about school leaders like him. The West Virginia President known for his trademark bow tie (and who has never shied away from an interview or a quip he didn’t like) is on the cusp of his first set of spring meetings in the conference as the new chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Speaking to the Dallas Morning News about a range of issues around the league prior to meeting in Dallas, Gee seems to have come around on conference expansion from a few years ago and thinks it not only could have been handled better, but it probably shouldn’t be done in the first place because being the smallest Power Five league has its advantages too.

“I’m not certain it was the best way to do it,” Gee told the paper. “It was a little bit messy — and I was part of the mess.

“Intimacy gives us an opportunity to do something that a lot of other places can’t do… We’ll play to our strengths. We’re small, but we can be very aggressive in positioning ourselves uniquely.”

I’m sure the folks at places like Houston and BYU would agree the entire process was messy but will certainly disagree with Gee about the Big 12 sticking with just 10 members. It certainly sounds as though the issue has been put to bed for the foreseeable future but if the merry-go-round gets going once again, at least we know that the process everybody goes through will be a lot different.

College Football Hall of Fame adds title sponsor

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The College Football Hall of Fame is no longer the College Football Hall of Fame. Well, it is, but it isn’t.

It’s still a massive museum dedicated to honoring our nation’s greatest sport, but it will no longer be known by that name. The Atlanta-based Hall has added a title sponsor, and it’s the same corporation that sponsors everything else college football within Atlanta, from the Peach Bowl to Paul Johnson‘s sock drawer (presumably) — Chick-fil-A.

The new name and logo was unveiled Thursday.

As of press time, there was no word on if the first 100,000 CFT readers will receive a free 12-pack of nuggets upon entry.