Playoff official: Four best teams will be selected, could include rematches

HOOVER, ALA. | If the college football playoff was in place two years ago, Georgia’s SEC championship game loss to LSU in 2012 probably would have sent the Bulldogs to the Sugar Bowl to play Kansas State instead of to the Capital One Bowl to play Nebraska.

That’s the way Bill Hancock saw it when he broke down playoff and bowl selection scenarios under the new system. Hancock is in charge of the four-team playoff, which replaces the BCS system.

His Georgia scenario was made using the 2017 playoff sites.

Hancock said Wednesday at SEC Media Days that the 13-person selection committee will select the “best four teams, period. No strings attached.”

Even if that means rematches like the Iron Bowl.

An Alabama-Auburn matchup could have happened last season in the semifinals since the committee won’t switch seeds to avoid rematches in the semifinals.

“I think the playoff system is something college football wanted,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “It’s a quality attempt. I think playoffs at some point and time will expand. I think the playoff will be equally as kind to the SEC.”

The SEC won seven straight BCS national titles before Florida State beat Auburn last season.

FRESHMAN BACK CREATES BUZZ AT LSU

LSU freshman running back Leonard Fournette is as good as advertised, according to another Tiger at the position.

“Man, I know y’all have heard of him,” senior Terrence McGee said. “Who hasn’t? I think he’s going to have a great year. I’m looking forward to him having a great year. …Who wouldn’t want to play in a backfield with that guy, a guy they compare to Adrian Peterson?”

The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Fournette, Scout.com’s No. 1 rated prospect nationally, is from nearby New Orleans.

Even before preseason practices begin, Miles touted him for what he’s done already on campus including “pursuing the classroom. He’s got great grades. He’s quiet. He’s not assuming. He’s humble in his approach. I think it’s exactly where he needs to be. He expects himself to be something very special.”

TARGETING PENALTY TWEAKED BUT NOT DE-EMPHASZIED

Despite some controversy last year on the new targeting penalty, it remains a point of emphasis this season.

Now the 15-yard penalty will be wiped out on simply targeting calls if they are overturned but not if a personal foul such as roughing the passer is also called.

SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said fans need to listen up for an official’s call on the field.

“It’s a subtle part of his announcement,” Shaw said. “If you hear him announce personal foul/roughing the passer with targeting regardless of the review the 15-yard penalty (will be assessed).”

The targeting penalty rule has been tweaked to now say that “No player shall target and make forcible contact…” instead of “initiate” forcible contact. The penalty is in place to enhance player safety.

Shaw also addressed the SEC using an eighth official this season with one crew.

He said there’s a misconception that it is being added for faster pace.

“The intent is not to go faster or slower but to help our guys officiate the game better,” he said.

THIS AND THAT

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel called claims that fast-pace offenses create player safety issues “fiction,” because he’s never heard a team doctor or trainer express concern about the health of one of his teams due to the tempo. Arkansas’ Bret Bielema is on the other side of the issue. “I’m probably more of a reality-based movie guy more than fiction, I guess. I think I deal more in what I know, what I see, what I believe. … Missouri defensive end Markus Golden on former teammate Michael Sam coming out publicly as gay earlier this year. “At Mizzou, it really wasn’t a secret,” Golden said. “He’s just a real guy. That’s what I like about him, he’s a real dude and he’s a good dude. I hope good stuff keeps happening for him. At Mizzou, he was like a brother.” Said Pinkel: “I hope five years from now, there are no discussions about this, that we’ve moved on. We respect people for what they are and what they do.” … Miles on Tiger Stadium expanding to 102,321: “If you thought we were loud before, we just got louder.” … Bielema quickly moved past last season’s 3-9 season, including 0-8 in the SEC. “I’ll take a minute to talk about last year. That’s about all I need to do.” He said the biggest difference going from Wisconsin to Arkansas was “winning vs. losing. It’s quite simple. I didn’t come here to lose.”

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