The 12-team college football playoff model revealed Thursday is near perfect, the athletic director said from the other end of the phone line.
Almost, he reiterated.
“The top four seeds cannot host a playoff game,” says the AD, who wished to remain anonymous. “I hope you can change your mind on that. It’s a key flaw. “
Nothing is perfect. And although the latest CFP proposal is coming up, there are problems. Illustrated Sports spoke with more than a dozen college administrators to react on a model that, by and large, seems to have drawn overwhelming support from the industry’s top brass.
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For starters, the model gives all 130 FBS teams the opportunity to make the field, unlike any other version that has been used in college football history. The proposal also guarantees a place for at least one Group of 5 champion, and places mandatory importance on winning a conference title, as the four byes are assigned only to the four best champions in the league.
Plus, it still maintains a human element through the use of selection committee rankings and features something that has never existed in a major college football postseason: the games on campus.
Oh, but there are problems. Of course there are. There is the aforementioned dilemma regarding the site of the quarterfinals, at bowling rather than on campus. While the top four seeds get a pass to the quarterfinals, they won’t host a game in their stadiums like the 5-8 seeds in the first round.
There is also the Rose Bowl theme. Will he play ball?
And there is the question of extending the season another three games, potentially four for some teams. Plus, first-round losers don’t get the traditional bowl experience typically given to college football teams, and speaking of bowls, their future even seems to be in a more precarious position than it already was.
“There is no perfect system,” says one administrator. “It can punch holes in any system all day long. People like to make holes.
“We could go back to the old AP and UPI end-of-season polls that ran for a century,” jokes the administrator.
Holes are few and somewhat trivial in nature. In fact, a Group of 5 athletic director says it’s impossible to leave a hole in the big picture concept. Those within the industry heralded the CFP task force of Bob Bowlsby, Greg Sankey, Jack Swarbrick and Craig Thompson as chivalrous and diligent for a recommendation that incorporates the entirety of college football, not just the wealthy.
“For the first time in a long time, the best interests of the game were at the forefront rather than the provincial interests of the decision makers,” says Tulane Athletic Director Troy Dannen.
Those who listened to and watched the virtual working group presentation this week, led by Swarbrick, characterized it as incredibly comprehensive, thoughtful and somewhat airtight. The presentation even featured an intricate graphic showing how the last seven seasons would have played out with the proposed model.
MORE: What a 12-team CFP field would have looked like in the past
But for all the positivity and excitement surrounding the model, there are problems. And the best, at least with the fans and some administrators, could be the quarterfinal site. While the four games of the first round are on campus, a group of six bowls will host the four quarter-finals and the two semi-finals.
This topic attracted the most attention from reporters – three different questions – during an hour-long teleconference Thursday with members of the CFP working group. To their credit, they were surprisingly honest.
They did this to appease the Bowls, who are long-time, big-money partners in the sport. It gives the bowls “a chance to be relevant in the system,” Thompson said.
“We have always honored the tradition of the bowl environment,” Bowlsby said.
However, the decision is not necessarily fan or school friendly. Fans of eight teams, instead of four, must travel. If a top-four seed advanced to the title game, fans would have had to travel three times.
Schools, meanwhile, lose a playoff game on campus that generates profit and generates profit. The model is opposed to a move in college football to bring the neutral games of the regular season back to campus, celebrating what makes college football great: the splendor of a campus and a community setting.
But the weather also played a role in the decision, Bowlsby suggested.
“I don’t think playing in East Lansing, Michigan, on January 7 is a good idea,” he said.
Maybe it’s not just about placating the bowls. A conference commissioner said Y that the neutral site is a way to eliminate home-field advantage so deep in the playoffs.
“Alabama doesn’t want to play Michigan at the end of December or vice versa,” says the commissioner.
Quarterfinal places are far from the biggest concern for some. The biggest obstacle in the playoffs, “the sticking point,” says one source, is the Rose Bowl. The granddaddy of them all operates under a separate television contract, historically locked in on a specific date and time (New Years Day at 5pm ET), and has in the past served as one of the most senior negotiating partners. difficult.
In the 16-team proposal, the quarterfinals, while played on January 1, would be moved to January 2 if New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday. What if the Rose hosts a semi-final? They are expected to be played the following week.
“If they’re going to be part of the six-bowl rotation,” says a senior source, “there will be times when you won’t be playing on New Years Day at 5.”
Longtime Rose Bowl conference partners Big Ten and Pac-12 are preparing to protect their interest, says a Pac-12 source.
“For at least two conferences, the Rose Bowl will have to be part of the discussion,” says the administrator.
And the length of the regular season? Teams that compete in their conference championship games and do not receive a bye can play up to 17 games, an NFL regular season. Some are alarmed. Others shrug their shoulders.
“Not that any of this is overwhelming, but it does need some good research,” says Clemson AD Dan Radakovich.
Dannen has spent much of his career at the FCS level, where teams must play 16 games with 22 fewer scholarships.
“I’m not compromising health and safety, but D2 and FCS play the same number of games,” he says.
Some administrators suggest lengthening the regular season to match the lengthening of the postseason. Does everyone start the year in week 0 and each team gets an additional bye week? Or do you advance across the calendar and play the league title games on Thanksgiving?
There are many questions. And, for now, not so many answers.
“We need to be able to study the proposal and discuss it and populate college football with it and collect the data and feedback,” says ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips.
While he agrees with much of the model, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons says there’s one thing he doesn’t like: First-round losers won’t play in a bowl unless they’re so involved in the game. playoff game like in a bowl. play. That is a long shot.
“I don’t think you can do that,” says Lyons. “If I’m a player and they beat me and you have to go to any bowl… I’m not sure how excited I am. I’m ready to go home. “
So does the playoff model propose a lot of good and a little bad? That seems to be the consensus among high-level industry officials. For some, there is a lot of good, a lot of real, like the commissioner of the American Athletic Conference Mike Aresco, who wants his league to be sixth in what he calls Power 6. The AAC champion would have qualified in five of the last seven years. if the model had been used at that time.
“This is the beginning for us to finally get rid of this G5 label,” he says. “It’s all FBS.”
One thing everyone can agree on: the model is almost certain to lead to a more exciting and tense final weeks of the season. Instead of six to eight teams searching, more than 20 teams could be competing for a spot.
“I like the incentive of having to win late to get a bye or win late to get in,” says Florida AD Scott Stricklin.
“November is going to be crazy!” says another AD.
But where there is good, of course, there is a pinch of evil. The proposal keeps more teams more engaged in the season, yes, but “on the higher end it could nullify the excitement around the Game of the Century great guys,” says one manager. “The top-ranked teams stay in the playoffs regardless of whether they win or lose those games.”
Unfortunately, there is no perfect system. But college football executives will accept this one: a lot of good and a bit of bad, they say.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.