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Why the Big 12 Is Better off Sticking with 10 Teams, for Now

If orange is the new black, then 10 is the new 12.

That would be the Big 12, which is happy to stick with 10 teams.

A couple of Big 12's athletic directors told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that the conference is satisfied with the number of teams right now and has no immediate plans for expansion. They more or less echoed what conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said a year ago.

And why not? The Big 12 last fiscal year actually made more money per school than the SEC and ACC, thanks to the lean and mean number of members.

Once on a deathbed, the Big 12 is now thriving with 10 teams. After losing Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC and surviving the then-Pac-10's attempt to poach Texas, Texas Tech and both Oklahoma schools, the Big 12 now has stability following the additions of TCU and West Virginia in 2012.

Not to mention the most fair way to settle the conference championship in football. The Big 12 is the only one of the five power conferences that plays a true round robin, in which every member school faces the rest every season.

"The conference schedule is absolutely great," West Virginia's Oliver Luck told McMurphy. "Our tagline is 'one true champion.'"

The Big 12's lack of interest in expanding comes as bad news for a handful of schools with aspirations to join the big boys' club.

Cincinnati is one of the few longtime Big East schools not poached by the ACC and thought to be a prime target if the Big 12 decides to expand. BYU has made no secret about wanting in with the Big 12 and shedding its independent status. Both UCF and USF also desire to be in the mix as they're large public schools in the recruit-rich state of Florida.

While this isn't to say that the Big 12 will never expand, there is even less incentive for it to do so if a proposed legislation is passed by the NCAA. The Big 12 is backing an ACC proposal to allow conferences to stage championship football games without the need of having divisions. The legislation might be voted on as early as this August during an NCAA board meeting.

The only thing missing for the Big 12 as compared to the other four power conferences is the title game, which has not been held since 2010, after Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12.

But unless not having a conference championship game proves to be detrimental to the Big 12 in the upcoming College Football Playoff era, there isn't necessarily a reason to stage one. And chances are, the Big 12 might end up having the best of both worlds, getting to have a title game without needing to dilute the cash take for each member school.

Why not have the cake and eat it too, if you can?

 

Follow on Twitter @ThePlayoffGuru

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After Joker Phillips Departure, Pressure Is on Chris Leak at Florida

All most of us know at the moment is that Joker Phillips is no longer Florida's wide receivers coach, and Chris Leak is. 

On Wednesday, Phillips abruptly stepped down from his position after one-and-a-half years in Gainesville, citing "personal reasons.

However, ESPN's Brett McMurphy later reported that Phillips resigned because of possible recruiting violations. Footballscoop.com tweeted that the possible violation was a bump, which is nothing more than impermissible contact between a coach and a player during non-contact periods. It is considered a relatively minor violation. 

None of this really adds up. The only thing that can be said definitively is that Leak, the former Gators quarterback who won a national championship in 2006-07, is taking over an important position for Florida. In way, he's almost as important as first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. 

Florida is not void of talent at wide receiver, but it is one of the weaker links for the offense transitioning into the 2014 season. The Gators finished 12th in the SEC in passing offense and their receivers hauled in just 11 touchdowns. That's not entirely on the receivers—the quarterback position was a revolving door—but there wasn't much help on the outside, either. 

Quinton Dunbar returns after catching 39 passes a year ago, but he didn't have a single touchdown. Andre Debose has had a lengthy career derailed by injuries and he's never quite fit in with previous offensive schemes. Demarcus Robinson was a 4-star receiver coming out of high school and saw the field as a freshman—but caught just six passes. 

On one hand, Leak has plenty to work with. On the other, he has a lot to work on. Until Florida gets inside the 5-yard line, that is.

Jokes aside, ESPN's Edward Aschoff thinks Leak is up to the challenge, citing former quarterbacks Tee Martin (Tennessee) Dameyune Craig (Auburn) who have successfully transitioned to wide receiver coaches. 

Leak's work will be on full display as more receivers should see the field this season in Roper's up-tempo offense. That places more importance on their development this offseason, as Roper explained to Bruce Feldman, previously of CBSSports.com, in April: 

We're talented at receiver. We 've got some guys that can run and make plays. We've just got to keep throwing and catching. For so long here they were in two-backs and a tight end, and all they would play was two wide receivers. We just need a ton of throwing and catching together. They haven't played in these formations as much as we're using them.  

When head coach Will Muschamp hired Roper away from Duke, it showed he was committed to turning the offense around in a hurry. After all, his job may depend on it.

The Gators ranked at or near the bottom of the SEC in major offensive categories. Injuries were a major issue for the entire team, but if the offense had been so much as serviceable, Florida likely would have been bowling instead of sitting with a 4-8 record. 

Clearly, Roper has a big job a head of him. But so does Leak, who has only served as a graduate assistant to this point. 

Like the rest of the Gators coaching staff, Leak will have to produce results quickly.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Football Recruiting: Bulldogs Land Two Commits on Same Day

Georgia added a pair of defensive prospects to its 2015 recruiting class Wednesday, picking up in-state linebacker Gary McCrae and Florida cornerback Deandre Baker. The Bulldogs capped the day off with a commitment from McCrae, who pledged shortly after receiving an offer, per Radi Nabulsi of NBC Atlanta.

The duo gives Georgia 11 total commits in a class that currently rates 10th nationally in 247Sports' composite team rankings:

Head coach Mark Richt continues to stockpile defensive talent in a group of prospects that is heavy on that side of the ball. Among pledges, at least eight are expected to join Jeremy Pruitt's attack in 2015.

McCrae, a 4-star prospect from Randolph Clay High School (Cuthbert, Georgia), is a dynamic player along the edge who brings intimidating size to the field. The 6'4", 220-pound playmaker provides versatility, and he could develop into an effective pass-rusher at the next level with improved technique and added strength.

His loyalties to the Bulldogs are deep-rooted.

"My family members are all Bulldogs fans and I have a player that I look up to that went to school there to from my hometown: Thomas Davis," McCrae told Nabulsi.

Davis was an All-American linebacker and safety at Georgia. He now plays for the Carolina Panthers.

McCrae is the second linebacker to join the class in June. Florida product Juwan Taylor pledged last week and is viewed as the player best suited for an inside position.

McCrae is rated No. 22 nationally among outside linebackers in 247Sports' composite rankings. Rated 28th overall in Georgia, he is the Bulldogs' seventh in-state commit.

His offer sheet includes Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisville and Michigan State, among others.

Baker is the third player Richt has plucked from Florida during this recruiting cycle. The 5'11", 175-pound defensive back competes at Miami Northwestern, where he earned a U.S. Army All-American Bowl invite.

His commitment also came just hours after an offer was extended.

“Coach (Mark) Richt personally offered me," Baker told Rusty Mansell of 247Sports. "He was surprised I committed.”

He chose Georgia over the likes of Tennessee, Rutgers, Mississippi State and Clemson.

Baker is a 3-star recruit who rates 78th nationally among cornerbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings. He adds to a 2015 haul that already includes 4-star Tennessee cornerback Rico McGraw

 

Recruit information and ratings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

10 Ways Pac-12 Football Can Overtake the SEC in College Football Playoff Era

The Pac-12 is a tremendous football conference. In fact, you could make a very strong case that it's the second-best league in college football with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA all looking like top-notch teams heading into 2014.

But yes, the second-best conference. Because like it or not, the SEC still holds the title of the toughest league in the sport. A recent history littered with national titles and Heisman Trophies proves that. So does tons of first-round draft picks, highly rated recruiting classes and future Hall of Fame coaches.

Nobody in Pac-12 country wants to hear those same things 10 years from now, though. So what can be done about it?

To start, we must look at where the SEC excels over the Pac-12. What exactly is it that makes it a better overall conference? Then, the Pac-12 must bridge those various gaps if it hopes to contend for the title of best league in college football. Let's be clear, too, that this league isn't that far behind. We're not comparing an expansion team to the '97-'98 Bulls. But it is indeed behind.

Here are 10 ways that the Pac-12 can overtake the SEC during the college football playoff era. And let's be honest, if it goes the way of the BCS era, the SEC fans will become insufferable if they aren't enough already.

(Just kidding guys, you're welcome anytime and there's plenty of microbrews for everyone.)

 

All stats via cfbstats.com

Begin Slideshow

10 Ways Pac-12 Football Can Overtake the SEC in College Football Playoff Era

The Pac -12 is a tremendous football conference. In fact, you could make a very strong case that it's the second-best league in college football with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA all looking like top-notch teams heading into 2014...

Begin Slideshow

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