The Baylor Bears announced yesterday the program has hired a public relations firm for advice, despite rumors of their intent to bolster advocacy for placement into the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Kevin Sullivan Communications was hired last week to advise the public relations tactics for Baylor, and essentially “pitch” themselves as the Big XII team most deserving of the top-ranked spot in the conference.
Baylor certainly has a compelling argument, having defeated the TCU Horned Frogs 61-58 on Oct. 11 as the No. 5 ranked team in the nation. The Bears’ only loss on the season, however, was by 41-27 on the road on Oct. 18 against the unranked West Virginia Mountaineers.
But if TCU’s only loss was by a point margin relative to a field goal against a No. 5 ranked team, as opposed to an unranked blowout on the road, then TCU has their own valid argument to lobby why it should continue to be ranked higher.
The Big XII doesn’t have a championship game, so commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on Monday that if Baylor beats Kansas State at home on Saturday, and if TCU beats Iowa State on the road, the two will be named co-Big XII Champions.
The purpose of hiring publicity services is simply to strengthen their campaign through media, and since we’re already talking about it in a national discussion, I’d say its worth every penny. But the framework for TCU’s counterargument holds a significant amount of weight in itself, so I wonder how effective their efforts will be.
It’s understandable why limiting the College Football Playoff to just four teams sounded like a good idea in theory. But the Committee didn’t anticipate such a talented Top 10 group of teams who have caused significant blood pressure movement among fans and pundits alike, this season.
Two things need to happen in the future in order to prevent Power 5 teams who have cracked the Top 10 from feeling disenfranchised, and feeling like they’re “settling” despite receiving berths into the New Years Eve bowls.
One possible outcome is that the Committee could just tell member institutions to deal with the system “as is” for the next 12 years, or, there could be a 2-4 team expansion. I just don’t see a whole lot of “in between” ideas happening there, because there are two massive situational roadblocks standing in the way of maintaining the model, and reforming it.
One argument that always gets mentioned, is that if teams want to be considered as a top-to-bottom contender, then it’s imperative that they schedule tougher non-conference games to open the seasons. Much like how the NFL regular season opener is usually between the Super Bowl winner and loser, college football needs to adopt a similar model.
If TCU and Baylor opened their seasons against the teams they’ll be playing in their respective bowls, followed by immediate head-to-head contention to start the regular season, perhaps the problems both teams are facing right now would yield a more transparent outcome should this come up in the future.
The same can be said for teams who schedule FCS teams to open up its seasons; the deeper into the season those teams get, the more obvious its glaring holes are. As teams are able to recruit stronger and incentivize better based on autonomy, factors like schedule strength are going to start having huge implications on seasonal outcomes.
The argument many present, is that student-athletes won’t agree to extending the Playoff system because seasons would get longer, and the risks for injuries would increase potentially, costing players millions in the NFL. Should that be presented as concern, schools could vote to cut two or so non-conference games from its schedules and use those weeks as additional byes to prepare. Another way to sell this would be to offer monetary incentives as graduation bonuses under autonomy.
It’s only a matter of time before the Group of 5 Conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, Mid-American, Sun Belt, and the Mountain West) begin adopting autonomous procedures or find ways to compete at the Power 5’s level. With that said, expect to see the floodgates on this discussion open up this offseason.
The new College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday evening.
*Section Photo credit to Cooper Neill, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports.