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Bill Hancock: Expanded College Football Playoff not a talking point

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With another year of the College Football Playoff teams being selected with a bit of dramatic flair and questions about what exactly the qualifications are for being selected, the idea of expanding the playoff field beyond four teams continues to be mentioned by media and fans alike who are on the pro-playoff expansion side of the conversation. Unfortunately for them, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock continues to say expansion has not been discussed.

There’s been no talk about a format change in the meetings of the commissioners and the presidents who manage the CFP,” Hancock said Sunday, according to Heather Dinich of ESPN.

Hancock went on to say the system is perfectly fine and suggested the format is drumming up exactly the kind of interest it was intended to when originally formed.

“This was the kind of debate we wanted when we created the playoff,” Hancock said. “We wanted diverse opinions, we wanted people who wouldn’t hesitate to state their feelings, and man, we got it.”

Oh boy, did they.

As will typically be the case, the most conversation will come around who gets the fourth spot in the four-team playoff field. The fun began right out of the gates when Ohio State was selected with the fourth seed ahead of both Big 12 co-champions, Baylor and TCU, in 2014. While Ohio State, who went on to win the national championship, had a case to be included ahead of Baylor and TCU, the outcome helped ignite the Big 12’s decision to bring back its conference championship game, which returned last year for the first time since the conference went from 12 members to 10.

Things went pretty smoothly in 2015 with a pretty clean path to getting to four teams without much debate, but the 2016 season marked the first time a non-division winner was invited to the playoff with Ohio State getting the third seed ahead of one-loss Pac-12 champion Washington. The biggest question here was either whether Ohio State, who lost to Big Ten champion Penn State (who lost two games), should have even been considered without a division championship or whether Penn State deserved a shot at the playoff over Washington. Whatever the case, Penn State had two losses so the final four decision seemed to be the right one in the end.

And of course, last year saw Alabama as a one-loss non-division winner get into the playoff as the fourth seed while Ohio State sat at home as the Big Ten champion, although with two losses. This season marks the third straight year the Big 12 champion has been left out of the playoff mix. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart also stumped hard for consideration to be in the playoff after losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia may be one of the four best team in the country, but a second loss (even to Alabama in the SEC title game) proved to be too much of an anchor to sink Georgia’s playoff hopes.

The four-team playoff field is here to say, but at some point, it would seem likely the format will eventually change, whether it occurs after the current contract expires or before if enough conference commissioners and presidents start weighing in with a different tune. That has yet to happen, which is why Hancock continues to recite the same answers he’s been doing regarding expansion since the format took over for the BCS.

But always remember, Hancock is also the same one who said for years the BCS was not going to change in favor of a playoff system. Until the time comes when the powers that be tell Hancock to start sending a different message, he’ll continue to say this on a regular basis.

WVU wideout Dillon Spalding transfers to James Madison, will play against old team in Week 1

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In the NFL, you’ll often see teams sign a player who was just cut off another team the week or two before they wind up playing that opponent. We could sort of have a college football version of that scenario in the case of wide receiver Dillon Spalding.

The former West Virginia redshirt freshman announced on Twitter that he had committed to James Madison and would be transferring to join the team in 2019. The team’s opponent in Week 1? None other than the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

Of course any knowledge Spalding might bring with him is limited given that both JMU and WVU have new coaching staffs in place this year. The former three-star recruit is moving a little closer to his Lorton, Va. hometown and will have all four years of eligibility remaining between redshirting last season due to an injury and the drop down to the FCS level.

The Dukes have added a solid amount of FBS talent recently for new coach Curt Cignetti. In addition to Spalding, former Penn State wide receiver Brandon Polk joined the program this offseason and both will catch passes from ex-Pitt QB Ben DiNucci.

Wildcats see attendance spike after allowing beer and wine sales at Arizona Stadium in 2018

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Arizona posted a disappointing 5-7 campaign in Kevin Sumlin’s first season in Tucson but Arizona fans still came out and enjoyed themselves thanks, in part, to the school allowing beer and alcohol sales for the first time.

As the Arizona Daily Star reports, attendance for the Wildcats home football games actually ticked up last year an average of 2,804 people while incidents of ejections at the stadium did the same — though were below historic averages.

“We’ve been very pleased with the rollout across the board in Arizona Stadium and McKale,” athletic director Dave Heeke said. “This was really focused around a number of things that we’ve done in the area of fan amenities and food service, and beverage selection was a key component.”

Some 43 people were kicked out of seven home games at UA, which is double the 21 from 2017 but well below the numbers the school reported for seasons when they played in-state rival Arizona State. It seems that Territorial Cup contest was the biggest indicator of above-average ejections in a year though game-by-game data was not given.

“I really haven’t noticed an increase in any type of criminal behavior due to beer and wine sales,” UAPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Shields told the paper. “Obviously from year to year the ejections and different numbers change and they fluctuate, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why those happen.”

The amount of revenue generated by beer and alcohol sales wasn’t detailed by the school but Heeke noted it covered the additional costs on game days and the profit overall wasn’t hugely significant. Still, it seems the atmosphere at Arizona Stadium was still enough to lure fans into their seats despite plenty of late starts and a football team that was largely up-and-down in 2018.

Ex-FAU defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro joins Kansas staff in off-the-field role

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Not many people can say they worked for the very different styles of head coaches Lane Kiffin and Les Miles back-to-back but Tony Pecoraro certainly can.

The recently let go Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator has apparently landed a new gig in Lawrence as a senior defensive analyst, primarily serving under Jayhawks DC D.J. Eliott.

Pecoraro took over the Owls defense in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons running things on that side of the ball for Southern Miss. Things didn’t quite work out in Boca however as FAU couldn’t get off the field like they did in Kiffin’s first year and allowed 31.8 points per game.

The veteran coordinator, who has Power Five assistant experience from a stint at Florida State, was replaced at FAU by longtime Oklahoma State DC Glenn Spencer back in December.

Wisconsin unlikely to join trend of selling beer and alcohol at football games anytime soon

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Wisconsin fans are known to hold more than their own when it comes to enjoying an adult beverage or two before, during and after Badgers football games but they apparently will have to keep waiting for the opportunity to buy a cold one at Camp Randall on game days.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a decision on whether or not to allow beer/alcohol sales in the general seating sections of the stadium rests with school chancellor Rebecca Blank and that she is not inclined to change the status quo on such prohibition anytime soon.

“The university believes that there is already an atmosphere of energy and excitement around Badger game days,” a school statement to the paper read. “The addition of alcohol to general seating areas isn’t needed to improve that experience and could detract from it for our students and fans.”

Just in the last two months, Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois have turned on the taps for football games in 2019. That will result in fully half of Big Ten schools allowing such sales in general seating areas as a result this season and it’s turned into yet another lucrative revenue stream for those that have too.

Wisconsin appears resistant to the idea however, doing so in the face of declining attendance for games too. While it is certainly too early to remark ‘never say never’ when it comes to the Badgers, it’s pretty clear this trend isn’t making its way to Madison anytime soon.