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  • Big 12 puts title game talk on hold – again

    Big 12 logo

    Thirteen may be greater than 12, but two is definitely much larger than one.

    After emerging from annual College Football Playoff meetings just one week ago touting his league’s need for a conference championship game under the logic that “13 data points are better than 12,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby met with reporters Tuesday evening following at his conference’s spring meetings in Phoenix and admitted a title game had not been rubber-stamped by the Big 12’s athletics directors and head coaches.

    And, really, that’s all that needs to be said. Extraordinary, unprecedented circumstances pushed Ohio State past Baylor and TCU for the fourth and final spot in last season’s tournament, and we more than two decades of data says that will not happen again. While a championship game would indeed give one extra Big 12 team an impressive win, as Bowlsby himself has said in the past, there’s no guarantee it’s the right team. Just ask 1996 Nebraska, 1998 Kansas State, 2001 Texas or 2007 Missouri.

    One sticky wicket that did appear to be ironed out Tuesday, however, was the ridiculous and embarrassing co-championship policy that got the conference tied up last fall like Andy Serkis playing a solo game of Twister.

    A league championship is the most precious honor a conference has to bestow, and diluting its own product as the conference did in 2012 (with Oklahoma hoisting a trophy after losing head-to-head with Kansas State) and last fall (TCU-Baylor) never made any sense – other than to spread the bonus money wealth for the league’s coaches.

    Bowlsby said league will still pursue NCAA approval for deregulation of conference championship games – as it should, because the history of conference championship games is extremely arbitrary – the earliest a Big 12 title game could even be held even if it received unanimous approval today would be the 2016 season.

    With that fact hanging in the air, there was no reason to nail down a hard stance today unless a unanimous consensus existed on one side of the debate or the other.

    Though I have gone on record stating the Big 12 should avoid an annual title game, the CFP era is too fresh to draw any hardline stances. The same goes for the other side of the issue as well. For a conference that doesn’t have a long history of harmonious decision making, agreeing on that is progress enough.

  • The College Football Playoff was a windfall for everyone except the American

    American logo

    The joyous death of the Bowl Championship Series and long-awaited birth of the College Football Playoff was a tremendous financial boon to everyone in college football. Everyone except the American Athletic Conference.

    In moving from the adults’ table of the BCS to the kids’ table of the CFP, the American saw its payout drop by $12 million from 2013 to 2014 while every other conference gained money, according to sports business reporter Kristi Dosh (via Yahoo Sports).

    As an automatic qualifier under the BCS system, the American took home nearly $28 million in the 2013-14 postseason. For those who don’t immediately recall the 2014 BCS cycle, that was when Central Florida upset Big 12 champion Baylor, a year after Big East champion Louisville took down SEC power Florida. In fact, the Big East/AAC always fared well in the BCS; its 9-7 all-time record bested the Big 12, Big Ten and ACC.

    But its total roster turnover lost the American a seat at the table in the changing of the guard from the BCS to CFP, and the Big Six became the Power Five. Without an automatic spot reserved, the AAC joined the Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt among the Group of Five, five leagues sharing one automatic spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.

    Last spot was claimed by Boise State in 2014, and those Broncos took home an extra $8 million or so for their conference in addition to their Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona.

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    American commissioner Mike Aresco insists his league views itself as the sixth Power Five conference. His conference went 8-31 against the rest of the FBS in 2014 and, as you see above, took home the seventh-largest playoff payout. If it plays like a mid-major and gets paid like a mid-major, Mr. Aresco, it’s a mid-major.

  • Wake Forest unveils new uniforms

    In a busy spring on the new uniform circuit, Wake Forest became next in line with a much more modern look than the Demon Deacons previously sported.

    The new kits come equipped with 28 new combinations, which can be seen here.

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    As a reminder, here’s how Wake Forest dressed up through 2014. It’s a design straight out of 2005:

    Wake 2014

    What do you think?

  • Don’t favor the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity

    Life work

    Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, recently published a study in the academic journal Organization Science with an eye toward the number of hours the men and women at the unnamed, high-level consulting firm she embedded herself with reported. Many, if not most, of the consultants, accountants, lawyers and bankers at the highest-level firms work long hours, are able to drop everything at a moment’s notice, and often sacrifice their nights and weekends to their jobs.

    Sound familiar?

    Her study, summarized here by Neil Irwin of the New York Times, broke employees into three groups. There was one group, whom we’ll call Group A, that embraced the firm’s workaholic culture, and the firm rewarded them with positive performance reviews and promotions. There was Group B, who resisted working long hours and requested a lighter travel load; they typically received negative reviews and were passed over for promotions. And then there was Group C, a set of employees that worked like Group B and yet managed to be treated like members of Group A.

    How did they do it?

    They lined up local clients, allowing their travel to be completed in one day. They aligned themselves with like-minded co-workers, members of Group C tended to have young children, and covered for each other when life intervened with work. In short, they worked smarter than Group A and Group B. “I try to head out by 5, get home at 5:30, have dinner, play with my daughter,” said one employee. Working less didn’t mean working any less hard, however. “I know what clients are expecting. So I deliver above that.”

    While the actual duties that accountants, bankers, and lawyers perform don’t have much in common with coaching football, many of the demands are the same: high-pressure, high-rewards.

    Reading this study reminded me of a recent conversation with a staff member of a Power Five program. This coach worked for a head coach that sent his assistants home by 7 p.m. more often than not and gave them nearly the entire month of July off, and their performance didn’t suffer for it. This program regularly competes for conference championships and is a fixture in the late December/early January bowl schedule. In the end, coaches – like, surely, the consultants Reid studied – tended to work more efficiently in the hours they performed their job when their job allowed them time to themselves.

    “The fact that the consultants who quietly lightened their workload did just as well in their performance reviews as those who were truly working 80 or more hours a week suggests that in normal times, heavy workloads may be more about signaling devotion to a firm than really being more productive. The person working 80 hours isn’t necessarily serving clients any better than the person working 50,” Irwin writes. “In other words, maybe the real problem isn’t men faking greater devotion to their jobs. Maybe it’s that too many companies reward the wrong things, favoring the illusion of extraordinary effort over actual productivity.”

    Don’t let your staff fall into that trap.

  • Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Meet this year’s new charity sensation

    Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? We on this site like to think we got in on the ground floor of the trend that monopolized your timeline last summer, and now it’s time for a new make-yourself-memorable-for-a-good-cause trend – and it involves egg.

    Borrowing the same premise from the Ice Bucket Challenge, Rhode Island’s football team partook in the Egg Crack Challenge for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

    The Rams were challenged by a 11-year-old fan Matt Tokarski, a sufferer of Type I diabetes. Head coach Jim Fleming invited Tokarski and his mother, Kate, to a recent practice, where they presented Matt with an honorary jersey and honored his request by cracking eggs on their foreheads.

    After watching that, one may need to wash down the Egg Crack Challenge with a little Ice Bucket Challenge.