The College Football Playoff committee met yesterday in Irving, Texas to discuss several items, and one of those was strength of schedule and the debate over eight or nine conference games.
Executive director Bill Hancock addressed the issue and provided a little more clarity to the situation.
“To the selection committee, whether a conference plays eight or nine games is inconsequential,” Hancock said. “What matters is – don’t just quote me on that, add the next sentence – what matters is everybody’s schedule as a whole, all 12 or 13 games.”
Hancock’s response indicates that teams with eight-game conference schedules, the SEC and likely the ACC, won’t be dinged for having one less game than the Big 12, Pac-12, and Big Ten (starting in 2016).
Schedules should, as we have stated previously, be taken as a whole. A nine-game conference schedule with a mix of three lower tier FBS teams shouldn’t automatically outweigh an eight-game schedule that includes two games against power conference/Group of Five teams.
The challenge will be for those that do play eight games to schedule tougher in the non-conference so that they don’t put themselves in a tough position come selection day.
Due to the strength of schedule mandate that was announced on Sunday, the SEC will need to schedule a little tougher in the non-conference. Teams must now play a non-conference game against a Group of Five team (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 plus Notre Dame) every season.
Strength of schedule will be one of the factors the playoff committee uses to select the four teams, although they stopped short of laying out any requirements.
“The (selection) committee will not be in the business of dictating to conferences how they ought to do their schedule,” said Hancock.
According to USA TODAY, Hancock “added that in the interest of transparency, he expects the selection committee would disclose whether a team was selected over another because of a more difficult schedule.”
“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m sure that will happen.”
When that does happen, teams should have a good idea moving forward on how they should craft their future non-conference schedules. Teams have no control over the conference portion of their schedule.
Also yesterday, Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported that the first College Football Playoff Rankings will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 28 and weekly thereafter until after the games of Dec. 6.