- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Lots of questions and concerns about the playoff. Let's dive into our last mailbag of the week.
Matthew Randall in Louisville writes: I still am missing the point. Please explain something slowly to me. So, now we have one more game, kinda a simple plus one. The national championship is going to be at a site that pays the most, so non-traditional BCS site. So, OK. What has changed beyond adding one game? The top four teams have always gone to the the top four BCS bowls, these bowls are all going to still be played. We are no longer going to get the No. 3 in the nation playing the No. 14 in the nation, but they could easily just have the top four teams, which would, most of the time be conference champs, in the playoffs and leave the rest of the bowls to the rest of the conference champions. That would be four conference champs in the playoffs and leave six other teams to play in BCS bowls. So, explain if you would how this is bad for the Big East. Nothing has changed except someone is making more money off the national championship game. How does the Big East get left out? Worst case is that two teams from the SEC get pulled into the top four. This whole concept has added two more teams to the BCS top games. Slowly explain the big issue to me.
Andrea Adelson: I will do my best. First of all, there is not going to be a set BCS poll with teams ranked Nos. 1-4 automatically getting into the playoff. There is now going to be a selection committee evaluating the top teams, and taking into account conference championships, strength of schedule and quality wins. That could very well mean an undefeated Big East team gets left out in favor of a one-loss team from the SEC/Big Ten/Big 12/Pac-12. That leaves the other "high-profile" bowl games, which the selection committee also will choose. The Big East has no automatic tie-in to any of the BCS games right now. I have a hard time seeing that changing moving forward. So the Big East will most likely have to rely on the committee to choose them as one of the teams to make the biggest bowl games. Those are the two major areas of concern for the Big East. Hope that explained it.
Doug in Tampa writes: HD interviewed (ACC commissioner John) Swofford and it seems they will be signing with the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl has suffered over the years with attendance. If they align with the ACC and the Big East, they can increase the chance of having a Florida school in the bowl, which will help attendance. You will than have four Florida schools that have a legit shot to make it to the game (FSU, Miami, USF, UCF) in any given year. You could even have two schools from Florida in the game. All would travel well to the Orange Bowl. To me, it seems like a no-brainer for the Orange Bowl.
Adelson: Except on those years when it gets stuck with a Wake Forest-Houston matchup. The biggest problem for the Big East in trying to a secure a tie-in is that it doesn't have one right now. The ACC already has an existing relationship with the Orange Bowl and has been identified as one of the "Big 5" conferences by those making the decisions. The Big East? No current tie-in to the Orange Bowl; not identified in the "Big 5." I don't see the Big East getting a yearly guaranteed spot into one of the high-profile games.
Sean in Louisville writes: Andrea, I've been thinking about the upcoming playoff system. How do we remove the preseason polling, and how does the preseason poll placement favor the big conferences.
Adelson: I don't think the preseason polls are going away. They obviously are going to be diminished, because they are not going to be used directly in determining the playoff. While there certainly are prejudices involved in favor of the big conferences, I should hope they are not going to make or break a selection committee's opinion.
Ira in New York writes: Andrea, the Big East continues to try to defend itself as being on the same level or just a notch below the ACC. What the Big East presidents and other Big East supporters fail to realize it is not just on-field performance but also perception. How many Big East stadiums are packed week in and week out? How many Big East schools have a large traveling fan base? When I turn on a college football game, I want watch games which are exciting where stadiums are filled and the fans are into games. The Big East fails to realize this and this is one of the reasons why it is not seen in the Big 5. How exciting it is going to be to watch Rutgers play in front of 15,000 at SMU or Memphis? You get my point, but do you believe this is the reason why the Big East is seen as the sixth or seventh best conference now? Plus, I think the westward moves really put a bigger ding into the 'joke' perception of the Big East but that is just my opinion.
Adelson: You want empty seats? Look at Miami. Or Boston College's spring game. I don't see much appeal in a Georgia Tech-Duke game, but what do I know? I get your point, but I think on-field results should count for something, and those results have the Big East essentially equal to the ACC. Nobody wants to believe that.
George in New Jersey writes: With strength of schedule becoming the new mandate, what is missing in the recently announced four-team format is a plan to support teams, in other than the top 5 conferences, improve their out-of-conference scheduling. If the likes of SEC and Big Ten/12 are the class of college football, there needs to be more games between teams in these conferences and the other want-to-bes. Scheduling 1-AA teams needs to be addressed.
Adelson: You raise an excellent point, George. First and foremost, I think every league should be required to play the same number of conference games. None of this nine league games in the Big 12 and ACC, eight games in the Big East. That affords more nonconference scheduling opportunities for everyone. Secondly, not all conferences are created equal. The SEC can get away with scheduling more cream puffs than the Big East. I don't think that the NCAA is going to step in and start legislating nonconference matchups. But I do think if the selection committee is serious about taking into account strength of nonconference schedule, that could go a long way toward addressing some of these concerns.