DALLAS - If Bob Bowlsby had his druthers, the college football season wouldn't have much of a warm-up period. Games in the first four weeks of the season would be nearly as interesting as those in the last eight.
West Virginia vs. James Madison or Florida A&M at Oklahoma? Sure, those would still happen. But there would also be a healthier dose of, say, the West Virginia-Alabama game scheduled for 2014 or the Oklahoma-Notre Dame skirmish set for October.
As one of the movers and shakers involved in structuring college football's looming four-team playoff - and, more specifically, the criteria for qualifying for one of those spots - Bowlsby is making it his goal to see that those blockbuster games happen.
"As we talk about the postseason and how it's structured and what we would like to do with it, one of the things that is factual is that the regular season in college football is the best in any sport in college athletics,'' the new Big 12 commissioner said Monday at the league's football media gathering. "But when we talk about that, we're really talking about the months of October and November. The second two-thirds of the season are terrific. But the first month of the season is not always terrific.
"And as we shape what will become the new postseason, one of the things that we have to build into the system is we have to make sure that it's fair, it's transparent [and] it's understandable. But we also have to do things in terms of how we structure the selection process to make sure that we encourage high-level matchups in the month of September.''
Bowlsby isn't advocating doing away with what are essentially scrimmage games for the kind of high-level BCS teams that will be in the playoff mix once the system is structured and put in place for the 2014 season. He understands that, for example, West Virginia can't be expected to play three high-level BCS opponents in non-conference play and then tackle nine more in the Big 12 schedule. No one does that.
Preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma, for instance, plays UTEP and Florida A&M in addition to Notre Dame this season. Added to the nine-game league slate it's a pretty representative schedule and one that should certainly suffice in any sort of formula - mathematical or otherwise -that determines playoff qualifiers.
The flip side, though, would be teams playing an entirely soft non-conference lineup and hoping to gain entrance to a playoff by going 12-0, be it in one of the power conferences or elsewhere.
"Don't mistake what I'm saying. I think September is a part of the season that we use to get teams ready to play the rest of the season. And so playing a steady diet of Top 25 teams is not necessarily what any coach wants to do and in most cases is not what's required to get a team ready to play in the conference schedule,'' Bowlsby said. "So that isn't what's going to be encouraged in the context of the postseason playoff.
"Having said that, putting together a schedule that never takes you off your campus, that doesn't play against intersectional opponents, that doesn't create matchups that are significant for the media and significant in terms of comparison of the best teams around the country - the complete absence of that will also likely be penalized.''
Truth be told, West Virginia's schedule this season would be iffy, at best, in that context. The Mountaineers do go off campus once, but it's to play FCS opponent James Madison. There are also home games against Marshall and Maryland, but only one of those is against a team from what is now an automatic-qualifying BCS conference, and neither can be considered intersectional.