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Volume 25 No. 177

Colleges

Delany (c) said the Big Ten would be open to discussions of expanding the CFP
Photo: getty images

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has joined the "growing chorus calling for an examination of the CFP structure now, well before the end of the Playoff’s initial 12-year contract with ESPN ends" in '26, according to Nicole Auerbach of THE ATHLETIC. Delany said the Big Ten would "definitely have conversations" regarding expanding from four to eight teams. Delany: “The Big Ten would be happy to discuss structure issues with colleagues. It’s probably a good idea, given all of the conversations and noise around the issue." Auerbach notes there have been "no formal conversations about expansion yet among Playoff leadership, but these are people who will be in the room if and when there are." It is "significant coming from Delany, who for years during the BCS era pushed back against any type of playoff format" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/18). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's George Schroeder reports the Power Five commissioners "remain largely satisfied" with the CFP structure and believe that it is "working as intended." Although some say they would "not be opposed to considering something different at some point, they see no reason -- and insist there is no impetus -- to explore significant change now." Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, “Four works. It was hard to get to four with lots of compromises. We should be thoughtful, but shouldn’t refuse to discuss.” Schroeder notes Bowlsby’s sentiment has "been echoed this month, publicly and privately, by many of his peers." This year's bracket of Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma "forestalled any serious discussion of substantive change." It includes "three conference champions and three unbeaten teams" (USA TODAY, 12/18).

NOT SO FAST: In Virginia, David Teel writes under the header, "College Football Playoff Expansion Faces Many Hurdles." Since the playoff bracket was revealed earlier this month, the sport has "buzzed with calls for doubling the field to eight, and while such expansion may be inevitable, it certainly doesn’t feel imminent." Conference championship games, "television considerations and, yes, exams are among the barriers in this Marine-caliber obstacle course" (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 12/18).

White initially touched base with Stricklin via email on Dec. 7 concerning a home-and-home series
Photo: getty images

UCF AD Danny White in an email exchange with Florida AD Scott Stricklin "not only lobbies for Stricklin to schedule a neutral-site game with the Gators but encourages Stricklin -- a member of the College Football Playoff Committee -- to help him fix a 'broken' system," according to a front-page piece by Mike Bianchi of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The "controversial back-and-forth between the two schools started right after" the CFP selection committee announced the bowl matchups, leaving an undefeated UCF out. Stricklin then "mentioned to members of the media that he would be open to scheduling UCF, which prompted White to send an email on Dec. 7 to Stricklin that read, in part, 'I was excited to read that you are open to playing us in football and would like to talk more about that. We are looking for a home-and-home series beginning in 2021. ... We would also consider a neutral-site game if that would expedite the process of getting a game scheduled between our two programs.'” Stricklin responded by saying UF "isn’t in the market for home-and-home or a neutral site games against non-Autonomy 5 opponents." However, he said the school "would be open to a series similar to what we’ve agreed to with USF … two games in Gainesville and one in Orlando." White then "seemed to take umbrage with Stricklin grouping UCF in with other 'non-Autonomy 5 opponents' and sent a lengthy email urging Stricklin to help him change an unfair system." White continued and "even went as far as comparing the College Football Playoff to a 'monopoly'" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/18).

LOOK IN THE MIRROR? ESPN’s Mike Golic said of the UF-UCF negotiations, "Doesn't Florida have all the leverage in the world here? ... People want to look at Florida and say they’re trying to take advantage of them but that’s what negotiation is." Mike Golic Jr. said, "As unfair as it feels to so many people and football purists, that’s the reality of the situation.” Trey Wingo: "Florida has what UCF wants, so if UCF wants what Florida has, they’re going to have to give at some point. They’ll do the dance until someone says, ‘It’s time we do this, or we move on,’ and (UCF) will say, ‘We’ll take the two-for-one’” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 12/18). ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt said, "Take the trip to the Swamp, kick their ass, come home for your game, and then go on the road and do it again. I just don’t see the downside. Attendance in the Swamp has been sliding a bit, take as many fans as you can, take over the joint. ... I don’t see how passing on this offer because you think you’re on equal footing to demand a home-and-home or nothing advances your cause" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/17). ESPN’s Billy Gil said of UCF, “You have an SEC team offering to be on your schedule three times. If you want to be taken seriously, take it." Dan Le Batard: "You have to do some eating of bleep if you want to be one of these programs that climbs” (“The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” ESPN Radio, 12/17).

HOLD THAT THOUGHT...: The SENTINEL's Bianchi noted AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco "refuted" last week's report that the conference is asking schools to sign a grant-of-rights agreement that theoretically would lock them into the conference for the duration of the next media rights deal. Aresco on Friday called the report "overblown." He said that the AAC has "not asked member schools to sign such an agreement -- at least not yet." Aresco: "I can tell you this: We haven’t asked our schools to do anything at this point.” Aresco: “Grant of rights is one of the issues that we’re discussing and we’ve got a whole range of issues that we’re discussing. ... It may sound like this whole thing is depending on a grant-of-rights deal. That’s nonsense." Bianchi noted it is "no secret that if the Big 12 or any other Power 5 league chooses to expand in the next few years, UCF is the No. 1 candidate." Bianchi: "Why would UCF do anything that would considerably hinder its upward mobility to a bigger, richer league? With all due respect to its current conference, UCF must be free to better itself and exercise its unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of a Power 5 conference" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/15).