LITTLE ROCK — Revived by the Pac-12 commissioner’s self-serving interpretation of a new bowl game, the Plus One option should be put down quickly. Other FBS conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletic director would sign off on a DNR order.
The recent announcement about the game between the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference champions never mentioned incorporation into a four-team playoff, but Larry Scott added the Southern Rose Bowl to the original Rose Bowl and came up with the winners playing for the national title. The conclusion is convenient for his conference with its ties to the game in Pasadena.
He told the Wall Street Journal that the idea of a Plus One didn’t have much traction until the announcement last week, but that the SEC vs. Big 12 agreement was a game-changer. "We’re pretty far down the path on four-team playoff options, but given the very positive reaction to what the SEC and Big 12 have done, it’s possible that (the Plus One) could get some traction," he said.
If a Plus One had been in place and locked into four conferences this year, Alabama would not have participated. Under the same conditions this year, here are some embarrassing scenarios that could occur:
• SEC: South Carolina loses to Arkansas and LSU in conference play and in-state rival Clemson, but gets to Atlanta because of a victory over Georgia. In the title game, Connor Shaw hits a Hail Mary and the Gamecocks hand Alabama its first loss. At 10-3, South Caolina is in the final four.
• Pac 10: No. 1 in the preseason and given a legitimate chance to end the SEC’s string of national championships, USC rolls over Oregon in early November. Two weeks later, Oregon loses to Stanford, but the Ducks bounce back and knock off USC in the league championship game. Oregon is in the playoff and 12-1 USC is out.
• Big Ten: Michigan State loses the season opener to Boise State and then runs the table. The once-beaten Spartans are in; unbeaten Boise is nowhere.
• Big 12: Oklahoma and TCU finish the round robin tied at 8-1, but the Sooners hold the tie-breaker over the Horned Frogs and move into the playoff. This despite losing to Notre Dame in Norman on Oct. 27. Even with a 12-0 record, Notre Dame is excluded because it is not a member of one of the four conferences tied into the play-in bowls.
For the same reason, Miami, Florida State, Boise State and others cannot be considered. In the years since Arkansas’ 1964 team captured a version of the national championship, Miami, Notre Dame, and Florida State have won a total of 11 national titles.
A Plus One locked into the two "Rose Bowl" games would put the squeeze on those schools and others, forcing them to approach one of the big four conferences on bended knee. If Notre Dame, Boise, Brigham Young, and the best of the ACC and Big East are folded into those leagues, it will be more and more difficult to get through a conference season unscathed and teams with two or three losses will be in the national semifinals.
The Big East athletic directors recently voted unanimously to support a four-team Bowl Championship Series playoff that rewards conference champions but still leaves room for an at-large team. They have the right idea although I do not agree with the athletic directors who believe the league has an excellent chance of having a team competing for one of those spots on a regular basis.
"There was a preference to rewarding conference champions as much as possible, but at the same time, making sure we at least keep a spot available for an at-large," said Big East senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli said.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is email@example.com.