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Sports Editorial

KSAL Staff - July 28, 2014 8:00 am

MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS

MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS

Summer days have become noticeably shorter and the college football season is fast approaching. The Big 12 has been pared down to 10 teams and needs a new name, but that’s a subject for another day.

The Southeastern Conference has dominated college football for the last decade and that scenario isn’t likely to end soon. In 2005, Texas was the last Big 12 team to win a national championship. The Longhorns have won four national titles. Oklahoma won it all in 2000 and the Sooners have seven national championships.

Big 12 coaches and athletic directors are vociferous in plugging their league as one of the best in the nation; however, it’s been nine years since Texas won their championship and 14 since Oklahoma sat on the throne.

OU is favored by most in the media to win the Big 12 this fall; over the years preseason predictions have been consistently inaccurate. Baylor is a strong second place choice, followed by Kansas State at third and Texas fourth. Oklahoma is loaded and the Sooners are poised to challenge for a national championship.

Excitement will be extra high this season with the new system to crown the national champion. The national championship will be determined by a four-team playoff, which is a momentous improvement over past systems. This year the champion will have to win it on the field, not in media polls. It’s a shame they didn’t make it an eight-team playoff—that would be close to perfect.

The new College Football Playoff (CFP) will be similar to the Final Four in NCAA basketball. Four teams will be selected by the 13-person committee to play in the national semifinals and the two winners will advance to the national championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on January 12, 2015.

The CFP committee was selected under the direction of the 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s AD. The committee selected for this season includes the following 13 members: Chairman Jeff Long, Arkansas AD (SEC); Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin AD (Big Ten); Michael Gould, former Air Force Academy superintendent; Pat Haden, USC AD (Pac-12); Tom Jernstedt, former executive VP of the NCAA; Oliver Luck, West Virginia AD (Big 12); Archie Manning, retired NFL and Mississippi QB; Tom Osborne, previous coach and AD at Nebraska (Big Ten); Dan Radakovich, Clemson AD (ACC); Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and provost at Stanford; Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner (The American); Steve Wieberg, previously a reporter for USA Today; Tyrone Willingham, former coach at Stanford, Notre Dame, and Washington.

The CFP committee will release its top-ranked 25 teams on Tuesdays, beginning October 28, 2014. On Sunday December 7, 2014, the final and decisive ranking will be announced. Throughout the process, committee members’ votes will be confidential. Computer rankings and media polls have been taken completely out of the equation—wonderful!

The level of competition will be critical to the selection committee: Committee member Oliver Luck recently said, “I think one of the first things the committee will look at is strength of schedule.” That’s great news for Kansas State fans; the Wildcats play SEC power Auburn in Manhattan on September 18.

A win over Auburn could be the deciding factor if K-State is in the running for one of the four playoff slots late in the season. But beating Auburn is easy to talk about and most difficult to do.

This season the inaugural two semifinal playoff games will be played on January 1, 2015 at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. That will be one of the great days in the history of college football.

Just when it looks like the Kansas City Royals baseball team is about to fold completely, they come roaring back to challenge for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

After last Saturday’s 7-5 win (July 26) against Cleveland, KC was positioned to sweep the four-game series on Sunday. What has KC’s fans bubbling is Billy Butler’s game-winning home runs in the last two games against Cleveland. If Butler would get hot and Mike Moustakas continues to hit for power and Eric Hosmer recovers from his injured hand, the Royals may be ready to roll.

There’s more good news: Jason Vargas is well on the way to being fully recovered from his recent appendectomy. If Vargas can return to the starting rotation, left-hander Bruce Chen could move to the bullpen and give KC another situational lefty.

After the Cleveland finale, KC plays three games at home against Minnesota and then goes on the road for three against Oakland and three with Arizona.

The pitching and defense are top major league quality; if the hitting picks up and becomes consistent, Kansas City could still make the playoffs and then the sky’s the limit.

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