SBD/August 28, 2014/College Football Preview

College Football Embarking On A New Course With Introduction Of Playoff System

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CFP selection committee members will meet in person on Mondays and Tuesdays
The '14 college football season marks a "new era" in the sport with the introduction of the College Football Playoff, and the impact of the four-team tournament "might blow your mind," according to Dan Bickley of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. During the 16 years of the BCS, college football "tapped into our collective soul for four months, building toward a narrative climax, only to abandon us at the end, as if it didn't understand us at all." But the sport this year "embarks toward a much smarter destination," and the ending "should be a crescendo and not a debate." There will be an "increase in volume, and conversations never heard before." There also "will be obnoxious politicking" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/28). In Baton Rouge, Rabalais & Mickles wrote college football fans will "remember this as the year everything changed, from the way the game is viewed on television to the way it determines its champion." The excitement and interest for the CFP "promises to be off the charts, with the real possibility the semifinals ... will be as big as the old BCS Championship Game and the new CFP Championship Game approaching Super Bowl-like hysteria." If this is the "revolution in college football so many fans and critics have clamored for, literally for decades, the revolution will most certainly be televised" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 8/24).  Fox Sports' Tim Brando said, "Five years from now, if not sooner, the championship game will rival the Super Bowl. This is going to galvanize college football in ways the traditional fans have not even dreamed about" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 8/25). 

WE'RE TALKIN' PLAYOFFS? In N.Y., Marc Tracy noted CFP selection committee members "will meet in person on Mondays and Tuesdays and will issue their first rankings Oct. 28, after the ninth week of the season." The committee "will determine its final rankings" Dec. 7 following the four major conference title games. During the season, nine of the committee members "will be subject to leaving the room if universities with which they have financial relationships come up for a vote." But CFP Exec Dir Bill Hancock said that he was "not concerned that recusals would hurt teams." Tracy noted it is "hard to believe" that USC AD Pat Haden and a committee member "would have agreed to participate if he were worried it would hurt the Trojans’ chances of making the playoff." According to playoff guidelines, the committee will "emphasize criteria including win-loss records, strength of schedule, conference championships, head-to-head results and results against common opponents." It also will have "access to video and advanced statistics like rushing yards adjusted for opponent." Wisconsin AD and committee member Barry Alvarez said, "We can all look at statistics, strength of schedule, facts. I think some of us ... have made football our living, so maybe we watch film a little more differently than someone who writes football and knows football but really hasn’t studied it" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23). ESPN's Chris Fowler said, "People like the idea of the playoff. There will be growing pains. But it's a huge improvement." In Boston, Chad Finn wrote the team "deemed the fifth-best in the country is going to be infuriated with the committee no matter what" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/24).

DO THE RIGHT THING: ESPN's Gene Wojchiechowski said the committee is "going to make some mistakes," but fans should "look at the makeup of the committee -- a lot of smart people." Wojchiechowski: They'll make the right choices." ESPN's Jemele Hill added, "Nobody is going to agree 100% across the board whoever they select. ... But I think we all can feel good about the process because they are very smart people on the committee and there is this element that it's not some computer somewhere that is deciding" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 8/24). ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said committee members have to "watch college football games." Herbstreit: "It's not just look at film. It's watch the games live and really appreciate and respect where these teams are playing" ("College Gameday," ESPN, 8/23). But ESPN's Mike Greenberg said there was "nothing wrong with the BCS system." If fans wanted a four-team playoff, the BCS "could have done that." Greenberg: "You didn't need to put together a 13-person committee to figure out four teams" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN, 8/27). 

NAME GAME: In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote the CFP needs to "do something about that prosaic name." It is like "naming a skyscraper the Really Tall Building." Gasper: "You’re not even trying. It’s almost as if the college football establishment was so traumatized by adopting a playoff that it couldn’t bear to properly name it. Hopefully, a better name emerges for this momentous event" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/24).
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