Mike Strange: Playoff only good payoff for upheaval

Mike Strange

Two weeks removed from the Orange & White Game and nearly four months until the 2012 season opens, college football is very much on my mind.

Life — i.e. college football — as we know it continues to change before our very eyes.

It still hasn't entirely sunk in that this fall, the Missouri Tigers will take the field in Neyland Stadium and the outcome will affect Tennessee's perch in the SEC standings.

That's the tangible news here on the home front: Tigers-Vols on Nov. 10, and it matters. But so much else is going on around the country.

Let's not bury the lead. A playoff is apparently coming to big-time football. It's two years off, due in 2014, but it's finally coming.

Given the current state of affairs, this is more pressing news in Alabama than it is around here. Still, by 2014 or shortly thereafter Tennessee could once again be relevant. So pay attention.

Based on the recent meeting of the 11 FBS league commissioners, a four-team playoff is in the works. They will meet again in June to iron out where the games will be played and the criteria for how the four teams will be selected.

There is considerable detail work yet to accomplish. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are clinging to the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame wonders where it fits in and Mike Slive wants to make sure he could squeeze two (or three?) SEC teams in the mix if merited.

At this point, I'm going to get sidetracked but I can't help it.

One of the nuggets to come out of the commissioners' gathering was that the automatic-qualifier concept is dead. The AQ, let's call it.

In the BCS era that has determined a national champion since 1998, six leagues had AQ status for their regular-season champions to be included in the BCS bowl format. If Florida State or Wisconsin wasn't playing in the BCS title game, at least it might be raking in megabucks from one of the BCS bowls.

The AQ was the Holy Grail. And it goes a long way toward explaining the

confounding, ridiculous mess of league-hopping that has accelerated in the past year.

Largely because of the AQ, we now have the annual San Diego State-Rutgers rivalry to circle on our calendars. Not to mention Boise State-South Florida.

Missouri joining the SEC bothers me a little. Nothing against Mizzou (or Texas A&M), but do their additions really make things better?

It should be none of my business, but San Diego State and Boise State hauling off to the Big East Conference bothers me a lot. It offends my geographic equilibrium.

I wondered how the Aztecs and Broncos felt about their far-flung moves (effective 2013) now that the AQ lure is coming off the table.

Boise State's AD was in attendance this week at the Mountain West Conference meetings in Arizona. Interesting. TCU abandoned the Big East without ever playing a game. Might Boise?

But San Diego State claims to be still gung-ho at the prospect of pitching in with the likes of UConn and Cincinnati. Why? The Aztecs anticipate a $6.4 million TV share from the Big East, compared to $1.5 million from their existing deal in the Mountain West.

TV money. The other Holy Grail. It's the reason Missouri will be in Neyland Stadium in November. It's the reason West Virginia fans are going to discover exactly how far it is to Lubbock, Texas.

These two coveted treasures, the automatic qualifier and TV bucks, have set off a seismic shift that began in the BCS leagues and reverberated to the lower echelons of the sport.

On Friday, seven FBS football schools announced new conference affiliations. The poor WAC is down to two survivors, Idaho and New Mexico State. I read that by 2015, 31 schools will have changed leagues, a full 25 percent of the FBS membership.

Again, the college football landscape is rocking and rolling. There is no terra firma.

Is the change going to be for the better? Yes and no.

We're getting a playoff, at long last. That's the good news.

The bad news is we're getting a bunch of convoluted regular-season games to figure out who's in that playoff.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange

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Comments » 29

JSamson7 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please, go away.

tovolny writes:

Mike, good job. Thanks for sharing your insight. And, thanks for making it clear that it is your insight. No problem separating the facts from the conjecturing. If other writers like Climer at the Tennessean and the guy I complain about at KNS could only learn to relate important situations like you, we would be a more informed fan base. I enjoy your work.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fl gators:
1916 - 0 wins
1918 - 0 wins
1946 - 0 wins
1979 - 0 wins
Many wish you would go away, but I do not.
Everytime I think we are as low as team can go, you show up and remind me what losers are.
Only 5 wins? that sucks
Repeated seasons with 0 wins....? I suddenly feel better.
Thanks.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to JSamson7:

Please, go away.

What up J? Good to see you man.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Once again, Strange puts together another great article. KNS should give him a raise.

On the other hand, I have a concept that might be to much for these high paid "highly educated" administrators and presidents to grasp. Here it goes....why not take the higher ranked team of the final four, and play the playoff round at their home stadium? I know that's on a level they can't yet comprehend. Just a thought.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Once again, Strange puts together another great article. KNS should give him a raise.

On the other hand, I have a concept that might be to much for these high paid "highly educated" administrators and presidents to grasp. Here it goes....why not take the higher ranked team of the final four, and play the playoff round at their home stadium? I know that's on a level they can't yet comprehend. Just a thought.

Agreed.
Strange will probably be in Chattanooga soon.
Hate to see him go but deserves better than looking up to Adams.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

Agreed.
Strange will probably be in Chattanooga soon.
Hate to see him go but deserves better than looking up to Adams.

Yeah, if not better than that. I remember folks having mixed feelings about Dave Hooker on here. Then not long after Dooley completely tripping out on him for asking a legit question, he and the KNS parted ways....Last I saw Hooker was covering recruiting for ESPN. Can you say upgrade? Again, many on here didn't like Hooker. But I thought he was alright, and he actually LIKED Tennessee being that he was from Knoxville. He also gave his best attempt at covering recruiting. We've had a commit for several days now and I've yet to see anything about it. Oh yeah, I forgot, you now have to pay for that on here.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Yeah, if not better than that. I remember folks having mixed feelings about Dave Hooker on here. Then not long after Dooley completely tripping out on him for asking a legit question, he and the KNS parted ways....Last I saw Hooker was covering recruiting for ESPN. Can you say upgrade? Again, many on here didn't like Hooker. But I thought he was alright, and he actually LIKED Tennessee being that he was from Knoxville. He also gave his best attempt at covering recruiting. We've had a commit for several days now and I've yet to see anything about it. Oh yeah, I forgot, you now have to pay for that on here.

LOL! So true.
I really enjoy reality. Sometimes it is positive, sometimes "not so much".
Anyone that can present a story with the good and the bad represented equally?
I don't need a spin doctor telling me "everything is great", I also don't need Adams suggesting I commit suicide because a new coach with almost no talent, didn't beat Bama.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Aww. How cute. Select the years that you wish to compare. LOL. I started to prepare for a legit response, then I remembered whom I was conversing with and thought "Bet he tries to narrow it to only years that give the gators a positive light" then you posted and surprise!. Good lord, you really are a punk aren't you?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

Aww. How cute. Select the years that you wish to compare. LOL. I started to prepare for a legit response, then I remembered whom I was conversing with and thought "Bet he tries to narrow it to only years that give the gators a positive light" then you posted and surprise!. Good lord, you really are a punk aren't you?

Yeah, he likes to do that. So sense that's fair game, I'm just gonna pick the years we won. Like when Fulmer owned Bama.. I've vacated any game pre and post Fulmer against Bama. It leaves us with a winning record against them, and it just plain makes me feel good. If Lil' ZZ can do it, so can I.

Oh yeah Clark, ask him to look up players in the College Hall of Fame from both UT and UF. My man, it's not even close and he knows it!

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Yeah, he likes to do that. So sense that's fair game, I'm just gonna pick the years we won. Like when Fulmer owned Bama.. I've vacated any game pre and post Fulmer against Bama. It leaves us with a winning record against them, and it just plain makes me feel good. If Lil' ZZ can do it, so can I.

Oh yeah Clark, ask him to look up players in the College Hall of Fame from both UT and UF. My man, it's not even close and he knows it!

If he answers your post, It will include a lot of "I wasn't born yet" or "I only count years that make us look good, even though our record sucks compared to yours"
Now give Bodeanne his "binky", he needs it.

rtrchatt writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So does that mean WWII never occurred because you were not born yet? Or Americans walking on the moon? College fb started in 1867 young man and for the majority of decades since, Fla fb is IRRELEVANT and that is a FACT. You Gators have never had ONE UNDEFEATED SEASON. So bake in your sudden glory of the last 20 years, ITS ALL YOU HAVE REALLY.

At least in 2012 you do not have to worry about Bama beating you down for the 4th time in a row.... just try to win 7 or 8 lol

Clarkrm0706 writes:

Bodeanne, I often leave Toddy, Walt and (Blah blah blah) alone, because they make a point. RT also states factual comments, you however, just run your mouth with no concept of facts. You wish that you had a point but do not. Instead you open your mouth and nothing but b.s. comes out.You can complain a lot but offer nothing.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bottom line. Rt and myself can argue "greatest of all time - Bama or UT" but Fl is a second thought. whine all you want, doesn't make your overall record any better. Sorry :(

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Boo hoo! "We only became relevant as of recent. Please acknowledge me" LOL! PAB.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"well, I guess being revelant as of recent is better than never been relevant at all."
Only to an ignorant punk. Oh, hello IP.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wish there was a like button.

Vols4life77 writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

University of Tennessee = 6 national championships
University of Florida. = 3 national championships
Tennessee all-time record = 794-349 (.686)
Florida all-time record = 669-385 (.630)
Tennessee conference titles =16
Florida conference titles. = 8
Tennessee all-Americans = 38
Florida all- Americans. = 31
Tennessee post season bowl record 25-24
Florida post season bowl record. 20-19
Florida. 3 heisman winners
Tennessee 0 heisman winners
Now for you mr. Retard bodeane these are FACTS!!!
Take a look at these FACTS and you will see Florida beats tennesee in only one category. CONGRATS!! You say Tennessee has never been relevant, HUH?? Completely stupid and you lose credibility as a football fan and just become an uneducated, ignorant moron... Thanks for playing..

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Have not fielded a decent team in decades...uh, ok.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

How about 14 teams? All conference champions get an automatic bid, then the at-large teams make it 14.

Pick the at-large teams by the highest (BCS) ranked of the non-conference champions.

Seed the tournament based on the BCS ranking formula.
Give the top two seeds a first-round bye.
Give the next six teams home-field in the first round.
Add two existing bowls to the current four BCS venues. Four of those host the second round, the other two host the Final Four and the championship game. Rotate them annually.

Automatic bids, seeding, at-large bids, byes and home-field all make sure every game maintains its significance.

A total of 14 teams, who would all have been bowl bound, use a total of 7 existing bowl venues, so all of the other bowl games go on unaffected.

A real tournament.
A real champion decided on the field.
Every conference represented.
Nobody can complain about being left out.
More money for everybody.
BCS gets to keep feeling in charge.
Almost no chance of expansion, because it would throw off all the important aspects that keep all regular-season games important, and it would then affect those other bowls.

Who would complain?

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

By 2014, UT will be breaking in its first realistic coaching prospect since the 2007 season.

It will take us a little longer to get back to the promised land, but it will happen. It will happen or we will have a new athletic director.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho:

By 2014, UT will be breaking in its first realistic coaching prospect since the 2007 season.

It will take us a little longer to get back to the promised land, but it will happen. It will happen or we will have a new athletic director.

What do you mean "we?"

By 2014, the Vols will be back to Atlanta the first week of December.

AncientVolFan writes:

Since the 4 game playoff is mentioned, I will mention an article in the Wall Street Journal. It suggests that colleges go back to being schools of education and let the NFL set up a minor league for developing players.
This really makes sense when you think about it. Perhaps the colleges could rent the stadiums and receive royalities. No concern over academics for the players. All would be paid and those who don't make the pros could accumulate money for a education.
It was an interesting article. I doubt 99% of college football fans would mind if, for example, the Knoxville minor league team was called the Tennessee Volunteers.

FanNotSheep writes:

I think it's still possible we will one day end up with a major college football league consisting of 4 super conferences of 16 teams each that (I hope) will be geographically logical. Each will be divided into two divisions. Each conference will have division winners play a title game, which will serve as the qualifier for the 4-team playoff. I would like to see the 3 games that result from this format be played in rotating bowl sites among the top 6 bowls. The bowl sites that aren't hosting that year's playoffs would feature games involving the 6 highest-ranked teams from each super conference that were not title game winners. The next year, these sites would get the playoffs.

The 3 major but non-playoff bowls would be held right before Christmas. Fans and players get a nice bowl trip and it's just like today's bowl games. You could still have lesser bowls for whichever teams they wanted to invite, from the super conferences and from smaller football schools.

With the playoffs, you'd have two semifinal games and a national championship game 2 weeks later. This way you have the best team from each division of each super conference matched up and then the winners get a shot at the national title. Sort of an 8-team playoff, but more fair to players and fans.

The schools who aren't part off the super conferences would have their own division of football and would play against the big boys as non-conference opponents. But they would have their own championship and their own playoffs to determine who wins it.

JSamson7 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

What up J? Good to see you man.

I've been good. Been on TOS where you don't have to put up with as much nonsense. Also getting ready for another Blount County run of state football titles next season. A name you'll hear coming out of nowhere this year at Maryville is Tj Kimble. My cousin who's HC at the Jr High said he's waaaaay more talented than Maples ever thought about being. The kid took off the last 2 years to play basketball, but now he's back & killing it at WR.

UT4prez writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think your facts are a little off. UT has been to 5 SEC Championship games. You say we backed in yet we beat your Gators in 3 of those 5 years. That includes 1998 when we went undefeated, something your precious Tebow couldn't do. That also includes a 2001 win at the Swamp that ended up running off the best coach you have ever had and kept you out of the National Championship game.

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to UT4prez:

I think your facts are a little off. UT has been to 5 SEC Championship games. You say we backed in yet we beat your Gators in 3 of those 5 years. That includes 1998 when we went undefeated, something your precious Tebow couldn't do. That also includes a 2001 win at the Swamp that ended up running off the best coach you have ever had and kept you out of the National Championship game.

Very good, and also let's not forget that Florida is a place that every 18 year-old boy would want to go, with beaches and girls and Disney World. Plus Florida can recruit top athletes to fill their roster without leaving their state. It's demographically impossible for Tennessee to do that, because Memphis is the most fertile area and it'a almost as far away as Florida from Knoxville.

Tennessee was relevant in football before Florida and I think real UF and UT fans want to see the rivalry get back to where it was in the 90s, meaning both teams get a lot better soon. Otherwise the SEC West gets all the national attention.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Troll, there's no such thing as backing in. That's just a term people use when their team failed to do what they needed to get in.

internetexplorer writes:

It's not Vol or SEC news, but the imminent death of one of the more successful FBS conferences in recent years certainly warranted more than a two day old passing reference in the News Sentinel. I didn't even see it on your GoVolsXtra website except again for that brief mention in your column. By the way, the SI.com article on the subject also includes a handy summary of all the conference realignments that have been announced with appropriate timeline.

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