Jeremy Fowler: Schedule musings and more from CFB Playoff meetings
The SEC's recent decision to stay with an eight-game conference schedule and require its members to play at least one "power five" nonconference game was seen as the league attempting to have its strength-of-schedule cake and eat it too. But critics of Mike Slive and Co.'s plan pointed out that many, many teams in the other major conferences will play that same nonconference game and a nine-game league slate -- meaning the SEC would still be coming up short in a straight head-to-head "how many power-conference teams did you play?" argument.
Commenting on that dilemma Tuesday, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said the playoff's selection committee would be paying close attention to strength-of-schedule, but that the issue wouldn't be as black-and-white as comparing 10 power-conference games to 9.
"Every game that everybody plays will be taking into consideration," Hancock said, per the Associated Press. "To the committee it won't matter whether you played an eight- or nine-game conference schedule. But it will matter who you played for your 12 or 13 games. And, of course, how you did against them."
"The committee will not be in the business of dictating to conferences their scheduling," Hancock said. He also added that while the "totality" of a team's schedule would be a factor, conference titles won by playing a league championship game would not be weighed more heavily. The 10-team Big 12 plays a regular season round-robin and is currently the only one of the power conferences not to hold a championship game.
Hancock also announced that the committee's in-season rankings would incude 25 teams, and have its season debut sometime around Halloween.
As for the strength-of-schedule announcement, it's the very opposite of surprising; anyone who'd expect Hancock to come right out and say that the SEC would have a clearcut disadvantage heading into committee deliberations is, well, someone who should think a little more rationally about his or her hate for the SEC. The playoff is going to give its committee members as much pre-decision wiggle room as possible -- and the proof of exactly how much strength-of-schedule matters will only come out in the final bracket pudding.