SBJ/February 18-24, 2013/Champions

Roy Kramer on …



College football’s new playoff …

“It’s certainly not going to eliminate the controversy. It’s a lot easier to pick 1 and 2 than to try and pick 4 from 5. The deeper you go, the more the teams look alike. How would you have picked between Stanford and Oregon this past year? More and more, it’s going to become like the basketball discussion where the regular season doesn’t really amount to much. If you lose the regular season in college football, you’ve lost what college football is really about.”

About the possibility of the playoff eventually expanding from four to eight teams …

“That’s the great danger. People will get to the point of saying, ‘Why should I drive from south Alabama all the way to Tuscaloosa for this game? I’ll just wait and go see their playoff game.’ That’s what we’ve done to basketball. Nobody cares who wins the conference anymore.”

The proliferation of college football on TV …

“We’re so dictated by television and television revenue that we’re turning our back on what made the product what it is today — the Saturday experience. This marketplace has changed the viewership. With all of the night games and midweek games, some conferences have driven their fan base out of existence. We’ve lost what’s fan-friendly about the games and they’re now more of a studio product. … But it’s also true that television revenue is more significant than what we developed on campus through donors or ticket sales.”

Conference realignment …

“We never asked how many TV viewers a school had. We looked at what kind of fan base they’d bring and if they had a commitment to a broad-based athletic program. We also talked about geography. That was important to us. That geographical tie is what makes rivalries. But when you have West Virginia playing at Texas Tech, you lose an enormous amount of what conferences are about.”

SEC revenue …

“When I got to Vanderbilt [in 1978], our share of SEC revenue was $238,000. I thought, ‘Wow, this is great.’ It shows how things have changed.”

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott …

“He came in at a time when everything is about revenue creation and it was ripe for his kind of thinking. It’s just the culture of the times, and he came in at just the right time. Ten years earlier, it was a different world. Now you see conferences being open to so many of the innovative ideas that Larry has brought.”

The future of college athletics …

“There’s going to be a cloud hanging over it because you’re going to see more realignment. The question I’ve got is how permanent these changes will be. I can’t help but believe the Big 12 will do something. And when they do, that’s another domino.”

The top 60 or 70 schools breaking away from the NCAA …

“That discussion has been out there since the advent of television contracts. The marketplace has always driven that discussion. There are significant and unique differences at each level — stadium sizes, crowds, television revenue. You can’t take North Texas and make it like the University of Texas. There’s a line in the sand there. … I think there would ultimately be a hesitancy by the presidents to pull away, from a perception and PR standpoint. That might not be the case 10 years from now, but I think it’s strong enough to stay together for now.”

One decision he’d like to have over …

“I hate to say this, but I don’t think there is one. Of the major decisions, I’m not sure I would change any of them.”

— Compiled by Michael Smith

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