Conference Commissioners Move College Football Closer To Four-Team Playoff
BCS conference commissioners will “present the various models of a four-team playoff” that will determine college football’s championship to their members during annual meetings in May and June, according to Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. BCS Exec Dir Bill Hancock said that the proposal will “go before an oversight panel” comprised of university presidents the last week of June and a “final decision is expected by July 4.” The new system “would go into effect for the 2014 season." Whiteside notes the conferences could reject the proposals, but “that is considered unlikely, given their commissioners are endorsing the plans.” They will consider “two to seven permutations." Hancock said that the Rose Bowl exception format “will not be one of them,” and the current system of automatic qualifiers “will not be part of the new format.” Whiteside notes how the teams are chosen, where the games will be played and how revenue will be divided are “substantial issues that still need to be decided,” but the “thorniest issue is expected to be revenue distribution” (USA TODAY, 4/26).
KEEPING THE BIG BOYS: ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach wrote a source said the “most favored scenario” among the commissioners would incorporate the current BCS bowl games into the semifinals, while the title game would go to “the highest bidder.” The current bowl game sites “could bid on hosting the national title game, although other cities such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Indianapolis -- which haven’t hosted BCS bowl games in the past -- might be involved in hosting" the championship game as well. Under that plan, semifinal games would be “rotated among the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls.” But the Rose Bowl “isn’t yet completely on board in sacrificing its traditional affiliations” with the Pac-12 and Big Ten to host a semifinal game every two years. A source said that playing semifinals at the higher-seeded teams’ home stadiums “raised too many logistical issues, and that conference commissioners favored having the BCS bowl games involved in the playoffs." The other BCS bowl games "not involved in the semifinals would still host traditional New Year’s Day-type games, with participating teams being selected from a pool of teams to be determined by the BCS standings.” The source added that the current BCS bowls “want to be involved” in the playoffs. The source said, “They see the handwriting on the wall; they can get on board or be on the same turf with the other bowls, bidding for bowl tie-ins.” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said that the commissioners would “concentrate on where and when the games would be played, before deciding how participating teams would be selected” (ESPN.com, 4/26). Orange Bowl Committee CEO Eric Poms: “We feel strongly about the value that we, along with the other BCS bowls, would bring to any new system” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/26).
WHEN AND WHERE: The AP's Ralph Russo wrote figuring out when to play the games “should be easy.” The commissioners agreed that the season “needs to wrap up as close to Jan.1 as possible,” which means the semifinals would take place “soon after Christmas and the title game within a few days of the calendar flipping.” ACC Commissioner John Swofford: “It’s great to get to a point where there seems to be general consensus that a four-team, three-game playoff is the best route to go” (AP, 4/26). Sources told CBSSPORTS.com's Brett Murphy that one scheduling possibility “would be holding the semifinals on the Saturday of the final weekend of the NFL’s regular season and then having the national title game nine days later on Monday night.” In the first season of the playoffs, that would mean the semifinals are played on Dec. 29, 2014 and the title game on Jan. 8, 2015 (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/26). FOXSPORTS.com's Thayer Evans reported that there will be talk about Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany’s proposal of the playoffs being hosted on the campuses of the top two seeds, but it is “purely to humor demoralized” Delany. Evans noted Slive wants the games played at neutral sites and he “will win that battle, just like he has with the pending playoff he has essentially wanted since he and … Swofford first proposed a so-called ‘plus-one’ system four years ago,” which Delany opposed at the time (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/26).
OPINIONS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Pat Forde wrote, “The college football regular season -- the best of any sport -- will remain a vital and thriving entity. The college football postseason -- the dumbest thing in sports -- will be significantly upgraded. The televising network will have a ratings smash surpassed only in athletic programming by the Super Bowl. Conferences and schools will be rolling in even more revenue. That’s the glory road we’re heading down as of Thursday.” The change was "so significant that it altered the verbiage” of those in charge of the sport. Barring any “eruptions of obstructionist self-interest or outright lunacy,” a playoff plan should be in place by July 4. Swofford: “You know the old cliché: The devil is in the details. We’re going to find out how much devil is in there” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/26). In L.A., Chris Dufresne writes the Rose Bowl is “going to have to make adjustments, again, 14 years after joining" the BCS. If the Rose Bowl "does not wish to become a ’semifinal’ event, it should just stage its traditional game and let the semifinal games rotate among the other BCS bowls. Dufresne writes "in return, the Rose should forever remain part of the national title rotation, the same way Indianapolis should always be tied to the Final Four” (L.A. TIMES, 4/27). In Miami, Manny Navarro writes, “As long as the conference and schools the BCS represent don’t get muddied in the details in the coming weeks, college football will have its own version of the Final Four” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/27).
NOT THERE JUST YET: SI.com's Andy Staples wrote college football’s leaders “crossed the Rubicon” yesterday, but must formulate a bowl package “to sell to networks.” The two “most difficult discussions don’t have to be settled in time for television negations." Staples: "That’s fortunate, because the debates over how to select the teams and how to split the money will be the real rock fights” (SI.com, 4/26). In Louisville, Eric Crawford wrote, “The mini-playoff will be fun, and it will be an improvement. But it will be no solution. The big boys are going to have to fight this out amongst themselves, but the greed of this system will be its undoing” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/27). SI.com's Stewart Mandel wrote if the BCS leaders “can manage not to mess it up -- so far, so good, but the presidents haven’t had their chance yet -- they will not only add two more national title contenders, but reenergize the bowl games and amplify the regular season” (SI.com, 4/26). SPORTING NEWS’ Matt Hayes wrote college football "needs a commissioner," and what better time than now “to do what has needed to be done for decades?” (SPORTING NEWS, 4/26).
IT’S ABOUT TIME: In N.Y., Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said that he “could not believe it had taken so long to reach this point.” Scott: “It’s frankly a little slower than I hoped it would be. We’ve had five or six meetings like this. ... But it’s complicated and there are a lot of different points of view” (N.Y. TIMES, 4/26). USA TODAY's Whiteside writes college football officials “seemed giddy that they could finally utter that once unspeakable word.” A laughing Scott said, “We’ve agreed to use the ‘p’ word” (USA TODAY, 4/26). The AP's Russo writes all of the “power brokers who run major college football are ready to have its championship decided the way it’s done from peewees to the pros,” the way "fans have been hoping they would for years.” Slive: “I’ve always tried to not use the dreaded P word. But now we’re all using it. So what the heck” (AP, 4/26). In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff writes “college football fans complained” and the BCS listened. Hancock: “They’re listening to the fans. They get that they want something different” (K.C. STAR, 4/27). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes Thursday “was a watershed day in college football” (N.Y. POST, 4/27).