SBD/April 26, 2012/Colleges

BCS Officials Working On Playoff Options, Claim Current System Is "Off The Table"

Hancock (l) says that there will be changes to BCS format
The 11 BCS conference commissioners, Notre Dame VP & AD Jack Swarbrick and one AD from each league met yesterday for about eight hours to “discuss overhauling the way a champion is determined in college football, and possibly implementing a four-team playoff,” according to Ralph Russo of the AP. Following the meeting, all parties “agreed the time has come to start making some choices.” BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock said, “Get down to two, maybe three [options]. I think we’re making good progress on that. I think we’re going to make it.” He added, “The status quo is off the table.” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany: “I would say there is an expectation that there will be significant change” (AP, 4/25). In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein writes several “major impediments to creating a college football playoff -- namely, protecting the Rose Bowl and concerns about devaluing the regular season -- appeared to dissolve.” College football “clearly is on the cusp of a new system that will please the vast majority of its fans,” with bowl games likely to “host to semifinals while the title game bid out, like the Super Bowl” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/26).

EVERY ROSE HAS ITS THORN: In N.Y., Pete Thamel reports college football leaders are “strongly divided” over the Rose Bowl. Delany’s priorities to the game have “always caused tension in the meeting room, and the Rose Bowl issue is one of the hottest topics of the meetings.” The silence of officials from other universities “showed how controversial” the Rose Bowl is at the meetings. Univ. of Florida AD Jeremy Foley: “I don’t need to weigh in on that. [The media] can weigh in on that” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/26). Delany and Hancock “insisted the Rose Bowl won’t stand in the way of change.” Hancock: “Everybody is going to have to make some changes” (AP, 4/25). Univ. of Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said that the Big Ten and Pac-12 “were holding up the move to a limited playoff because of their loyalty to the Rose Bowl.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott laughed off the comments, saying, “It’s a little out of touch with the conversations we’re having in there” (USA TODAY, 4/26). Delany disagreed with Dodds’ assessment, but “hinted that the Rose Bowl’s affiliation with the Big Ten and Pac-12 was in definite danger.” Delany: “He should be getting maybe more excited as the discussions become more mature” (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/26). CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote Tuesday will be “known as the day the Rose Bowl gave in.” Dodd: “Maybe just a little. And not officially. But it was the day when Delany, the biggest public defender of the Rose, sounded a lot like the stuffy ol’ Granddaddy was joining the party” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/25).

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: In Dallas, Chuck Carlton reports SEC Commissioner Mike Slive “doesn’t want a conference-champions-only criterion for a plus-one.” He also “isn’t fond of the Big Ten proposal for semifinals at campus sites, noting that basketball’s NCAA Tournament isn’t played on home courts.” Delany “countered by saying that everyone from the NFL to NCAA Division II and III plays semifinals with home teams.” Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said that other holdups “could come from the distribution formula for all that new TV money” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/26). Slive said holding the semifinals on campus presents a “competitive disadvantage.” Slive: “The NCAA tournament is not played on home floors -- for a reason” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/25). However, Scott said that the idea of on-campus games “remained quite alive.” Scott: “We wouldn’t have spent three or four hours talking about it if it was dead, I don’t think. In fairness, I’m sure it’s dead for some people. Just as neutral site is dead for some people.” SI.com’s Andy Staples reported conference commissioners "haggle over three critical questions: How many teams? Where will the games be played? How will the teams be chosen?" (SI.com, 4/25).

TAKE YOUR PICK: ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach reported commissioners are considering a proposal that would “use a selection committee to choose the teams for a potential four-team playoff.” Having a committee “similar to the one used to select” the NCAA men’s basketball tournament field is “just one of the proposals being discussed.” Scott said that commissioners “spent more than four hours” yesterday discussing how teams would be selected in a four-team playoff (ESPN.com, 4/25). Hancock said, “Fans want a bracket. We’ve all heard that, and the commissioners get that. They’re listening to that.” Thompson "described the tone of discussions as good," and said, “It was good give-and-take with the [ADs], to get their perspective” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/26). A source said, “We can’t come out with something less (than a four-team playoff) and say, ‘Here’s change’” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/25).

MASSIVE PAYOUT POSSIBLE: ESPN.com’s Kristi Dosh reported economists and TV consultants value a college football playoff system at $600M-1.5B, "depending on the number of teams included." That is a “major increase from the more than $125 million per year” the BCS receives annually from its deal with ESPN. Engage Marketing President & Chief Solutions Office Kevin Adler believes a current college football sponsor would “jump at the chance to be the title sponsor of a new playoff format, even at a much higher cost.” Adler: “The likelihood is one of the existing brands who invests heavily in the collegiate sponsorship space would step up before anyone new had the chance to get in -- someone like Allstate or AT&T.” Sports media consultant Neal Pilson said that advertising rates “could increase from 25 to 40 percent, and broadcast ratings by up to 50 percent” (ESPN.com, 4/25).

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL? In Georgia, Scott Michaux writes after so many years of “noisily tolerating the status quo, the fact that we might have finally reached the point of true bowl reform is refreshing” (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 4/26). SPORTING NEWS’ David Whitley wrote, “After years of oppression, the BCS wall is coming down. What replaces it won’t be perfect. But whatever the new gripes are, they will beat the old gripe any day” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/25).
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