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SBD/June 29, 2012/CollegesPrint All
While the Rose Bowl "wants to be part" of college football's new playoff system, it "might not host the semifinals as much as the other bowls in the rotation," according to reports cited by Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. The new playoff format "includes a 12-year agreement and six bowls in the rotation." If "going by basic math, the equation is simple," and each bowl "would host a semifinal four times during the 12-year span." But Rittenberg wrote, "Don't be surprised if the Rose Bowl hosts the semis fewer than four times between 2015-26. ... The reason: it doesn't want to go years and years without the traditional Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup." Rose Bowl Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Ash said Thursday that "no decisions have been made on how often each bowl will host semifinal games." The Rose Bowl will "continue to discuss its preferences" with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Ash said, "It's sitting down with Jim and Larry and working out that balance: How do we become relevant in the postseason and be part of a system, and how do we keep the traditional game?" The Big Ten's and Pac-12's involvement "reinforces the Rose Bowl's sentiments about its two partners and about the traditional matchup." If the Rose Bowl "isn't hosting a national semifinal, it will pair a Big Ten team and a Pac-12 team." But Rittenberg asks, "Will the Rose Bowl remain relevant if it's not a national semifinal?" Ash said, "I really do believe it will. ... The Rose Bowl Game is important to all of us. It's a part of America" (ESPN.com, 6/28). SI.com's Stewart Mandel wrote, "Well, it's time to make new plans for Dec. 31, 2014." It is "going to be a two-day New Year's nirvana for college football fans on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1." BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock said, "There will be three (games) each day, that's how we envision it. It will be 1 (p.m.), 5 and 8 (eastern), basically, and the same windows on New Year's Day" (SI.com, 6/28).
GOOD ENOUGH: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason wrote, "No system will ever be perfect. Too many teams and not enough Saturdays exist in college football to determine a true winner on the field. ... At the very least, the new format is a start toward getting it right" (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/28). In Pittsburgh, Gene Collier wrote under the header, "College Football Playoffs -- A Miracle" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/28). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jeremy Gordon wrote, "This is a much anticipated evolution. It's not a perfect one, of course" (WSJ.com, 6/27). In Columbus, Rob Oller wrote the new format "is an improvement, but thankfully far from perfect." For benefit of the sport, the "ideal format for determining the best team should be flawed." Argument and controversy "are as much a part of college football history as the Gipper and Galloping Ghost" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 6/28). In West Palm Beach, Dave George wrote, "I already thought college football was pretty great as it was. This long-awaited playoff system can only reframe the hypocrisy, not remove it altogether" (PALM BEACH POST, 6/28). SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote, "There’s no way to make everybody happy." But if the selection committee "is as sincere and unbiased as we’re told it will be, there is one way to show it: Show it." Televise the meetings "where the final four teams are selected." Let skeptical fans "see it’s an honest, open, angst-filled process" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/27). A USA TODAY editorial states, "Playoffs, to be sure, do have one downside in that they add to the number of times in which young athletes take a pounding and are out of class." But the "proper way to address this problem is by shortening the regular season, which was expanded to 12 games" in '06. Now that the "opposition to a playoff has been conquered, the momentum for further reforms might be hard to hold back" (USA TODAY, 6/29).
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR: In Virginia, David Teel noted when the new format begins in '14, the Bowl Subdivision "will include approximately 130 teams." At regular season’s end, 3% "of those squads will compete for the national championship." Teel: "Just for fun let's project that three percent on other sports. The NCAA basketball tournament bracket would shrink from 68 to 10. ... The austerity of a four-team bracket is far too severe" (DAILYPRESS.com, 6/28). In Miami, David Neal wrote under the header, "NCAA Football Playoff Format Doesn't Go Far Enough." Neal asked, "Why not make it a 12-team tournament? The conference champions plus an independent or wild card conference team to be chosen by the committee" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/28). In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs wrote, "Better than it was. Not as good as it should be. And that's why the length of this deal, from 2014 to 2025, bothers me." Twelve years is "too long for a plan that decades from now surely will be remembered as a transitional one" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/28).
NOT BUYING IT: FOXSPORTS.com's Jen Floyd Engel wrote the four-team plan "is not a playoff." Its most "redeeming quality, it seems, is it is not a BCS." Engel: "We are supposed to celebrate this 'playoff' simply because it replaces something that so many people were against that it was crumbling under its own idiocy? The BCS is dead. The BS most certainly is not" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/27). In Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote those who "passionately sought the demise of the BCS will see its replacement as more political, more polluted with corruption, more convoluted and more controversial than its predecessor" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/28). CBSSPORTS.com's Ray Ratto wrote, "The cartel of the bowl games is not being replaced by a better way to present and operate the business of college football, but a bigger and ultimately meaner cartel" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/27).
PAY TO PLAY? ESPN.com's Chris Low wrote under the header, "It's Time To Give Some Back To The Players." The money generated by the new playoff format "will be astronomical, and if student-athlete welfare genuinely is a priority, then it’s time some of that cash ends up back in the pockets of the players." Low: "No, I’m not necessarily talking about paying players a regular stipend." But at the "very least, the NCAA and college football need to make sure players have enough money for their families to make these trips" (ESPN.com, 6/28). The AP's Tim Dahlberg wrote there is "enough on the table to make a difference in the lives of a lot of college athletes, and still have millions left over." It is "time to overhaul a huge money-making enterprise that benefits almost everyone but the players themselves" (AP, 6/28). SPORTING NEWS' David Steele noted the players' cut "will remain what it was under the BCS system, the Bowl Alliance, the Bowl Coalition, the AP-and-UPI-poll system, and all the previous postseason systems. Zero." In the "same manner in which fans never shut up about how unfair the BCS was, those who want fairness for the players who create the wealth that created both the BCS and the new playoff system aren’t going to shut up, either" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/27).
Athletic departments at “nine out of 10 public universities that compete in big-time sports spent more money than they generated last year -- and many are grappling with the question of whether dropping some sports is the solution,” according to a front-page piece by Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. The Univ. of Maryland’s athletic department will “proceed with plans to cut at least seven of its 27 varsity teams this weekend.” The downsizing is “an attempt to correct an unsustainable pattern many households know well: Spending more than you earn.” Clarke cited financial data and experts as indicating that unless “runaway spending is brought under control,” it is “only a matter of time before other schools are forced to follow Maryland’s lead.” Over the last five years, 205 varsity teams “have been dropped in NCAA Division I, the top ranks of college sports -- 133 for men, 72 for women.” Men’s tennis, gymnastics and wrestling have been “hit particularly hard.” But no major university has “cut as deeply as Maryland,” and some “point to its budget woes as a warning that the current model of college sports, marked by overzealous spending in pursuit of success in football and men’s basketball, is broken.” Texas, Ohio State and a “handful of other universities aren’t feeling the pain,” because their football teams are “so wildly successful they bankroll their entire athletics department -- and more.” But that is “the exception.”
MOUNTING PRESSURE: College sports reform advocacy group The Knight Commission reported that spending on sports is “rising at nearly twice the rate of spending on academics.” Coaching salaries and construction costs are “up dramatically.” Meanwhile, state appropriations for higher education “are declining, which heightens pressure on athletic departments to sell out venues and boost fundraising.” In this environment, a “downturn in ticket sales, coupled with a heavy debt burden, can be catastrophic.” At Maryland, those factors “converged in a perfect storm in recent years.” The school’s athletic department deficit, now $4.7M, "is projected to reach $17.6 million by 2017 if not addressed.” Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics co-Chair John Nichols said, “The people who could and should be responsible for fixing what almost certainly is going to be a train wreck are either unwilling or unable to do it. Unless you assume that television money is a bottomless pit -- and there are no limits to the amount of money that television networks will invest -- there is going to be a day of reckoning” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/29).