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Any notion of having BCS playoff semifinals on campus sites "is now dead,” according to Teddy Greenstein of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Big Ten ADs yesterday “made two things clear: They're on board with a four-team playoff beginning with the 2014 season, and their preference is to have rotating bowl sites, including the Rose, host the semifinals.” Michigan State AD Mark Hollis said, "It's critical to keep the Rose Bowl in the equation. And from the kids' perspective, the bowl experience is the one thing they want to keep. With campus sites, it becomes like a regular-season game." Nebraska AD Tom Osborne added, "The bowls have been good to us. If you took them out of the playoff, it would pretty much destroy the bowl system." Greenstein notes Delany and the Big Ten ADs “favor a ‘hybrid’ model, likely the three highest-rated conference champions and a wild card from any league” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/16).
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, HOW: In Detroit, Matt Carboneau notes Delany and the Big Ten ADs for the past two days have been “hashing out ways they would like to see the system play out when it goes into effect in 2014.” Delany said, "We're moving in the direction on the 'what,' on the model of 'what.' So that's maturing a bit and I'm hopeful that in the next 60 days, that thing will be resolved. The 'how' and the 'who' are yet to be resolved." Carboneau notes the group “is supportive of the four-team format and they are also very adamant that it be played within the bowl system, keeping the importance of the Rose Bowl intact” (DETROIT NEWS, 5/16). ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg wrote what is going to take longer is “how the teams are selected, always a hot topic in college football and one that will only get hotter.” Delany “wants to make that part of the process as transparent as possible.” Delany said, "Regardless of how we go, it's going to be difficult for coaches and fans and programs and conferences to absorb." He added, "The conversation about the how and the who needs to be really open. Let's get coaches in the room and talk it out. Let's get commissioners in the room and talk it out. Let's do it in front of the media. Let's (let) everyone see the difficulty of these decisions and then let's make decisions and live with it" (ESPN.com, 5/15). YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel writes a football playoff “will be great no matter where the games are played,” but it would “just be better on campus.” Wetzel: “But the bowl lobby has won, and a select few of them are about to become even more fabulously wealthy off the labors of student-athletes” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/16).
UP THE ANTE: Delany said that there is “a ‘very strong consensus’ among the league's athletic directors that the bowl-eligibility requirement should increase from six wins to seven wins, a sentiment that's echoed nationally.” Delany said, “For us, it means redefining a successful year at 7-5 from the standpoint of a bowl season. We argued for 6-6. We've experienced 6-6. Now we're suggesting that it's in our best interest, the bowls' best interest as well as the other conferences that might benefit by these open slots to look at a 7-5 standard" (ESPN.com, 5/15).
BLUE RIBBON PANEL: In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes Univ. of Texas men's AD DeLoss Dodds earlier this week “gave his preference for a college football playoff format.” In his version, the four teams “would be selected by a blue-ribbon committee of ‘seven or nine’ objective panelists who are very familiar with college football and follow the game passionately.” Dodds said, "They'd be people who have football backgrounds and who are not biased.” He also proposed “an odd number of panelists to avoid ties,” and said that he “favors picking four teams at large who were not necessarily conference champions.” The four teams “would be selected before the bowls make their choice.” Dodds said of the four teams, "This entity needs to be separate. It needs to be their own bowls, their own TV, their own sponsors. Those four selected would not play in the bowls.” He added, "And I'd have them bid it out to cities and stadiums for the three games, and I favor neutral sites for the games because using the campuses would be too much of an advantage" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 5/16).
WINDY CITY: Univ. of Illinois AD Mike Thomas said that plans “could be finalized this summer to schedule a football game in Chicago as early as 2013, competing every other season in odd-numbered years.” He said that venues “still are being discussed but noted Soldier Field ‘is certainly an option.’” In Chicago, Shannon Ryan notes Illinois and Northwestern played against each other at Wrigley Field in ’10 and both programs “have been making stronger pushes lately to secure Chicago as their own turf in recruiting and branding” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/16).
The speculation about Florida State Univ.'s future conference allegiance “took a chilly turn Tuesday afternoon when, for the first time in four days, an FSU official declined to comment on the conference realignment inferno that has blazed around the Seminoles' athletic programs,” according to Coley Harvey of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. FSU AD Randy Spetman yesterday said he was not "making a statement today" on rumors the school would leave the ACC for the Big 12. Yesterday’s “closed-lipped stance appears to reflect a newfound, larger scale policy FSU administrators have adopted in recent days.” As the conference expansion talk “continues to stir around them, they have finally begun speaking with a singular voice.” FSU President Eric Barron on Monday sent an e-mail to boosters to say he is committed to the ACC. Coley writes by “avoiding discussing the matter with reporters, Spetman, for now, has given Barron the last word” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/16).
ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN: ESPN Senior VP/College Programming Burke Magnus addressed the ACC-ESPN deal in a statement through the company's internal PR site Front Row, and said, “We want to take the opportunity to explain a few key facts related to our ACC agreement. First, a rights fee payment schedule that escalates in amount over the term is a commonplace provision in major college conference deals.” He added, “Secondly, the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse as ACC members triggered a composition clause in the existing agreement. This clause is designed to allow for both partners to address the value of the conference taking into account the change in membership. There was no specific valuation formula based on total number of schools or on a per school basis. It is not an ‘out clause’ nor does it trigger a complete renegotiation of the entire agreement.” Magnus continued: “Lastly, the term ‘third-tier rights’ means different things in different conference agreements. In the new ACC extension (as was the case in the original 2011-2023 agreement), ESPN retains exclusive rights to all football and men’s basketball games. Additionally, ESPN retains the first selection rights to women’s basketball and all other ACC sports such as baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, etc. Whatever is not selected for coverage and distribution by ESPN from these sports is retained by the member institutions” (FRONTROW.ESPN.com, 5/15).
CHIMING IN: The ORLANDO SENTINEL's Harvey writes Mangus' statement was “in response to widespread confusion about the terms of its deal with the ACC” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/16). In Virginia, David Teel wrote Magnus’ statement came amid “fans, media and an ill-informed board chairman parsing the ACC’s new media package with ESPN.” Magnus “debunked Florida State Board of Trustees chair Andy Haggard’s angry assertion that the ACC had ceded third-tier football rights to ESPN while retaining them for men’s basketball.” With investments in the ACC, Big 12 and other major conferences, ESPN “figures to tread lightly in realignment matters.” But given the “just-completed agreement with the ACC, you have to believe the network would prefer the Seminoles and their football program, in decline of late but still a national brand, remain part” of the conference (DAILYPRESS.com, 5/15).
Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti yesterday said that he is “not interested in becoming the Big East’s next commissioner.” He added he still has “a lot to get done” at the school. Pernetti: “I’m flattered that people would suggest that. Beyond that, I’ve really not spent much time thinking about anything except what we’re trying to get done at Rutgers” (NEWSDAY, 5/16).
PRESS PAUSE: Incoming Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that he would “prefer conferences hit the pause button on realignment.” Bowlsby: “My opinion is college athletics would be well served by some period of smooth water and not all the angst and disorganization that goes with moves.” USA TODAY’s Steve Wieberg notes Bowlsby “declined to address FSU or whether the comments were likely to heighten expansion sentiment in the Big 12” (USA TODAY, 5/16).
POSITIVE OUTCOME UNLIKELY: In San Diego, Brent Schrotenboer questions whether the Mountain West Conference will be “granted an automatic berth into the lucrative Bowl Championship Series.” Schrotenboer notes “no decision has been made” and documents show that the “gatekeepers of the BCS have serious questions about the future makeup" of the MWC. More importantly, the conference “wasn’t able to fully answer those questions,” which leaves the league’s BCS bid “in doubt for the 2012 and 2013 college football seasons” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/16).
MOVIN' ON UP? The AP's Hank Kurz Jr writes with Virginia Commonwealth Univ. leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Atlantic 10, the school is "looking to make the most of its rise to prominence in men's basketball.” VCU President Michael Rao said moving to the A-10 is "the next step." Rao: “Premier universities are premier across the board and that includes athletics." A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said that the conference “began looking for potential new members as part of a long-term strategic plan adopted about 18 months ago.” Rao said that the move “will take effect in all sports on July 1” (AP, 5/15).