Report: Consensus Reached On College Football Playoff

Well, all of you who have been calling for a more rational way to determine the College Football Championship may be getting what you want:

CHICAGO — The BCS commissioners say they have come to a consensus on a model four-team seeded playoff that will be presented to the university presidents next week for approval.

The commissioners, who have been working on reshaping college football’s postseason to create the first major college playoff, met for four hours and emerged together with a commitment to stand behind a plan. They were stingy, though, with providing details of that plan.

They said they were reluctant to share too many details before they had a chance to discuss them with their bosses, the university presidents. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott did say the two semifinals would be worked into the existing major bowls.

The devil, of course, is in the details but if what we’re talking about here is a four-team playoff determined by BCS rankings then this might just satisfy everyone.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Quick Takes, Sports
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Trumwill says:

    It’s surprising to me that they can get the support of anyone outside of the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC. A playoff – even a four-team one – has the real possibility of diminishing the bowl season. A four team playoff has the possibility of doing that without giving them a path to the championship.

  2. Chad S says:

    I give it one season before people start griping about the playoff. Especially if they use the same backroom committee to choose the 4 teams that Basketball does. If they use the 2 standards that they’ve been kicking around, here’s what the last 5 CFB seasons would have had for the “playoff”:

    Proposal 1
    2011: Lsu, Bama, Oka State, winner of Stanford/Oregon plays LSU
    2010: Auburn, Oregon, TCU, winner of Stanford/Wisconsin plays Auburn
    2009: Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, winner of TCU/Florida plays Alabama
    2008:Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, winner of Alabama/Southern Cal plays Oklahoma(utah left out)
    2007: Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech, winner of Oklahoma/UGA plays OSU

    Proposal 2:
    2011: LSU v Bama, Oregon v Okla State
    2010: Auburn v Ohio State, TCU v Oregon
    2009: Bama v Ohio State, Texas v Florida(Boise State excluded because FLA has a higher ranking, Cincy because its out of the top 6)
    2008: Oklahoma v Southern Cal, Florida v Texas(alabama and Utah left out)
    2007: Ohio State v Oklahoma, LSU v Va Tech

    You notice who’s not on those projections? utah. Boise State. TCU would have only made it for sure in 1 year. The playoff structures will basically exclude any team not in the Pac12, SEC, Big1G and Big12.

  3. @Trumwill:

    It’s surprising to me that they can get the support of anyone outside of the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC.

    Do they really need the support of anyone outside the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC?

  4. Trumwill says:

    @Stormy Dragon: They need the votes of the presidents outside those four. There are also political implications. Remember all the grief they got before they expanded to 10 BCS slots? That was *with* the support of the ACC and Big East and this playoff structure has half as many slots as the BCS had.

  5. superdestroyer says:

    This spells the death of the Big East conference. The other question is what happens to the ACC if the conference fails to get a team into the play for a couple of years in a row.

    A four team playoff set the pathway of four 16 team conferences and everyone else gets out of Div I football.

  6. Trumwill says:

    Everyone has been predicting 4/16 since the SEC moved to 12. It keeps stubbornly not happening.

    The MWC and some combination of the Big East and Conference USA aren’t going anywhere in even a worst-case scenario. I doubt the MAC and Sun Belt are, either. More teams are moving up and starting programs than falling back or eliminating them despite the increasing financial inequity.

  7. wr says:

    In less important news, lots of documents were released today proving that the Bush administration was warned repeatedly that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack in the US in 2001, but slashed spending for the unit looking for Bin Laden anyway. But of course, that’s not nearly as important as 95 posts on F and F… and, of course, this.

    It’s okay. I like the sound of crickets.

  8. Console says:

    I really don’t get any of the gripes presented here. At worst, the 4 teams system is solidifying what is already true… Teams not in major conferences have no shot at relevancy. But since it is easier to be number 4 than it is number 2, that problem is helped more by a playoffs than by the current system. I mean damn, we just had an all SEC championship yet there’s some huge danger that changing the system is going to make other conferences irrelevant? Are you guys kidding me?

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @Trumwill:

    Teams are moving up when there there wre 30 bowl games and alabama was paying $400K for a home game at Alabama.

    With a four team payoff, the 30 bowl games do not survive and does MAC exist solely to sell easy wins to the Big 10?

    A four team playoff will turn football into the same dynamic as college women’s basketball where the same couple of schools have all of the talent and everyone else is irrelevant.

    Do you really think Conference USA will still exist if every school is playing in front of an empty stadium and the students do not care?

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Trumwill: The bowl season was rendered a joke by the BCS. Previously, participants in the top two or three bowl games, at least, had a plausible path to the national championship. Now, all but the title game–which is held at one of the bowl venues but not actually part of the bowl system–are meaningless exhibitions. That, combined with the proliferation of minor bowls featuring teams with 6-5 records, makes them unwatchable.

    @superdestroyer: I don’t understand this logic. Conference USA is irrelevant as a football conference now. It’s never been relevant as a football conference. Going to a four-team playoff likely won’t make them relevant but it increases their odds by a factor of 2.

  11. superdestroyer says:

    @James Joyner:

    There are over 100 teams that play Div I (old term) college football. It is impossible to fit 100 teams into a four team playoff. At least with a 16 team, four conference alignment, the conference championship game acts as the first round of an 8 team playoff.

    A four team playoff along with the end of bowl games means that everyone outside of the SEC, Big 10, Pac-12 and one team from the (ACC/Big East/Big 12(?) is playing for nothing.

    All of the none BCS schools lose money on their athletic programs. Some school will finally decide to stop losing millions (that it does not have) on college sports.

    I would guess that the top 64 schools will eventually leave the NCAA and form their own association to maintain their monopoly on college sports. That means no more March Madness or college world series.

    I guess the supporters of schools such as Alabama will not be happy until all other college sports besides football go away.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @superdestroyer:

    There are over 100 teams that play Div I (old term) college football. It is impossible to fit 100 teams into a four team playoff. At least with a 16 team, four conference alignment, the conference championship game acts as the first round of an 8 team playoff.

    We currently have a two team playoff. This doubles the chances of a team getting into the tournament.

    A four team playoff along with the end of bowl games means that everyone outside of the SEC, Big 10, Pac-12 and one team from the (ACC/Big East/Big 12(?) is playing for nothing.

    Under the current system, all but two teams play for nothing. And the bowls aren’t going away, they’re being enhanced. Two of them will be play-in games to the national championship game. The others will continue as meaningless exhibition games.

    All of the none BCS schools lose money on their athletic programs. Some school will finally decide to stop losing millions (that it does not have) on college sports.

    How does this change impact that? The BCS games aren’t funneling money to members of minor conferences now.

    I would guess that the top 64 schools will eventually leave the NCAA and form their own association to maintain their monopoly on college sports.

    I’m not sure why they haven’t already.

    That means no more March Madness or college world series.

    Why?! March Madness is a ridiculous money maker. What possible incentive would they have for eliminating it? I don’t know that the CWS is lucrative but, again, changing the football playoff doesn’t change that.

    I guess the supporters of schools such as Alabama will not be happy until all other college sports besides football go away.

    Alabama has won four national championships thus far this year, only one in football.

    My preference, actually, would be to have a college football league consisting of four power conferences or otherwise consisting only of the big boys. Whether that involves the current conferences or some new construct is irrelevant.

    For the other sports, I’d like to see a Back to the Future movement. That is, we really need the return of small, regional conferences like the Southwest, Mountain West, etc. Bigger is better for football but disastrous for sports that play lots of games. So, divorce football from the other sports organizationally.

  13. Trumwill says:

    @James Joyner: I support the Plus One in part because of what you’re talking about, though I don’t consider a bowl game without national championship implications to be meaningless. I think that as the playoffs expand, they become moreso, though I’m not sure what happens with four teams. One of the things I love about college football is that it has these series of games that are their own thing, rather than just an elimination round. The Boise State/Oklahoma game was made more by the fact that it was the last game of the season. When Louisiana-Lafayette beat San Diego State, there was a parade. That, to me, is just awesome. I hope it continues despite the playoff. With just four teams, it might. But it might not.

  14. Trumwill says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do you really think Conference USA will still exist if every school is playing in front of an empty stadium and the students do not care?

    East Carolina brings in 50,000 people per game. In a good year, UTEP, UCF, and USF bring in over 40k. Houston has been selling out their games and is building a bigger stadium. Southern Miss pulls in 30k. These are all teams that (with the possible exception of USF) have no less chance at a national championship than they had before. Some of these schools are headed to the BE, but that’s partly why I talk about a worst-case scenario involving a BE/C*USA combination. Most likely, if C*USA teams start folding (Tulane, UAB, and Rice very well could, for example), there’s most likely enough stubborn teams in the Sun Belt to keep something put together.

    The bowl games themselves aren’t going away. The only question, really, is what kind of role they will take. For the most part, these schools never got invited to the big bowl games anyway. The beauty of college football is that teams, for the most part, get to have their own definitions of success (go to a bowl, win the conference, have a big victory, go to a good bowl, win a bowl). I fear that will change, but it’s far from clear that it will.

    I wrote a post a while back talking about how the WAC could salvage itself. I got some pushback from people saying that NMSU and Idaho should just go back to FCS. Supporters of the big programs always think that the small programs can and should just go quietly into the night. They stubbornly refuse to. Even being in a lower-ranked conference in the FBS puts your profile in a different category than one in the FCS or without a team at all (UT-Dallas is a good school, but nobody has ever heard of it, Boise State is a thoroughly mediocre school but everyone has heard of it, more people are vaguely aware of a school called Arkansas State than a better school called Missouri State).

    There’s little or no reason to believe most of these schools are just going to slink away.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Trumwill: This was what happened at Troy. When we were moving from what was then called I-AA to I-A status in football, most of the faculty, myself included, thought it was madness. We were a tiny school and had to sell the equivalent of one ticket for every man, woman, and child in Pike County to every game to meet the minimum threshold. And we simply had no chance of becoming a serious football power in a state with 4.3 million people and two already established major programs–Alabama and Auburn–and another fledgling I-A program at UAB, with a hell of a lot of more people to draw from.

    Yet, the move was absolutely the right one. Troy achieved a national profile and started bringing in serious revenue by playing the big boys. I still don’t think Troy ought to be playing big time football from a football standpoint. But it makes sense under the current arrangement.

    My guess is that, in the not too distant future, the big time football schools will firewall themselves and set up a quasi-professional league that keeps the money for themselves and leaves out the also-rans. Until then, it makes sense for the Troys and Boise States to play the game.

  16. Trumwill says:

    @James Joyner: I’m considering going back to school online to get a political science degree (in addition to the degree I have), and Troy is on my radar at least in part because of the football program. I’m also looking at North Dakota, which is in FCS, so that’s obviously not the sole criterion, but the fact that more people are vaguely familiar with Troy than are familiar with Fort Wayne State enters into my thinking. My alma mater’s football program is one of those that some people say should just call it quits, but people recognize the logo on my shirt. And, like I said, nobody knows UT-Dallas exists, or Idaho State (which is a better school than Boise State). I’m repeating myself, so I’ll stop.

    I think the political pressure will prevent a real firewall from occurring. They didn’t expand the BCS to let BSU and company in out of the goodness of their hearts, nor did they increase the revenue-sharing to bottom conferences out of generosity. Even though Utah isn’t one of them anymore, there are still entire states (with two senators apiece!) that wouldn’t qualify for the firewall. There are powerful people who went to some schools on the borderline (Mitch McConnell and Louisville, for instance).

    And beyond that, I think it serves the big conferences well that there are cellar-dwellers that they can get warm-up games and extra home games against. I don’t think they want to play one another every week. So I envision more push-and-pull like we’ve seen rather than a clean break.

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @Trumwill:

    The minor bowls only exist because they provide program for the ESPN family of networks. If ESPN stops paying for rights for the minor bowls, they all go out of business very quickly.

    Most schools like Central Florida and Houston are losing millions trying to keep up with the BCS schools. When Alabama and USC starts getting millions more from the playoffs, then all of the other schools will either having to lose more or give up football.

    There is no reason for the Sunbelt, MAC, Conference USA, or whatever remains of the WAC to exist. All of teh schools lose money and they will lose more in the future. It would make more sense for every school in Ohio except OSU to give up football since their students are really OSU fans.

    The playoff makes the conferences pointless and will speed the collapse of the small schools.

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @James Joyner:

    I believe that getting blow out by the big boys hurts the image of the second tier schools. It creates a school that looks like a massive loser. Football does nothing for the academics of a school. Students still compete to get into Duke, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern even though those schools are routinely blow out in football. Yet, a winning football team has done nothing for the academics at Oregon or South Carolina.

    Any schools that does not have Wal-Mart Alumni (hangers-on) does not need a sports program.

    A school win get a much bigger profile for being the first to drop sports and put more emphasis on sports.

  19. Trumwill says:

    @superdestroyer: They’re not “losing millions”, they’re spending millions within overall budgets of over a billion. You think the schools are being hurt when they’re getting beat, or that they’re better off not playing than losing, yet they continue to disagree. There are some cases where I agree with you (Eastern Michigan comes to mind), and some where I agree with them (East Carolina), but what you and I think doesn’t really matter.

    Last year, there were 120 schools in the FBS. In a few years, there are slated to be 125. Those conferences exist because they are full of schools that want their athletics programs to exist (except the WAC, which didn’t have the problem of programs dropping football but rather leaving for greener or closer pastures). All needles are pointing away from the direction of your inevitability despite the increasing inequality.

    There is no indication that ESPN is going to stop paying for the bowls, chances are that CBSSN and NBCS would like to run a few themselves. They want content and the bowls provide them. That might change, but there’s no reason to bet on it, absent a 16-team playoff (which itself would open up possible entry for some teams from the lower conferences).

  20. superdestroyer says:

    @Trumwill:

    Arkansas State does not transfer have a billion dollar budget. However, Arkansas State (and the rest of the Sunbelt, MAC, WAC, and Conference USA) does transfer million of dollars of student fees to the Athletic Department. That is millions of dollars that is collected from students that could be used for tutoring, libraries, counseling but is used to fund an athletic program that the students generally do not care about.

    I loved our comparision of Missouri State (the old SMS) and Arkansas State. Missouri State has higher admission standards, higher academic standards, and higher graduation rates. Why would students want to attend a school that they only here about when it closes to LSU or Alabama by 60 points.

    Schools that have loser athletic programs are being harmed by being seen as loser schools and would be better off without a losing athletic program.

  21. James Joyner says:

    @superdestroyer: @Trumwill: @superdestroyer: Part of the problem is the belief that getting people to watch your football team on TV is the only reason to have college sports. Even as a die-hard fan of college football and an alumnus and fan of Alabama, one of the elite programs, I think that’s silly. College sports are just great for the participants, student body, and alumni for the same reason that high school sports are.

    One reason I’d like to see most schools drop out of the football arms race is that I think it would encourage them to play more non-revenue sports. Gymnastics, swimming, field hockey, wrestling, lacrosse, and all the rest get squeezed by the vagaries of football and Title IX. Without football skewing the equation, maybe those sports come back.

    I support separating football from the other sports conference-wise for similar reasons. Superconferences make sense in football, where there are only 5 or 6 road games a year and the elite programs are geographically dispersed. But it’s suicide for baseball, basketball, soccer, etc. to have to travel that far given a packed schedule.

  22. Trumwill says:

    @superdestroyer: When I first mentioned Missouri State, it was precisely because it was a better school than Arkansas State but more people have heard of the latter than the former. If Arkansas State wanted, they could go the Missouri State route. Use the money to recruit National Merit Scholars, like Missouri State does. Become a better school, like UALR is. That’s not the route that they’re choosing. I don’t entirely disagree with you that ASU is making the wrong choice (they’re somewhere in between Eastern Michigan and East Carolina, in my book), but it’s not our call and I don’t think they’ll be changing their minds any time soon.

    Schools without an FBS athletics program are a dime-a-dozen. It’s not like it hasn’t been tried. It’s been tried, and some schools think it’s okay and other schools don’t like it. If you’re Arkansas State, and don’t want to be as anonymous as Idaho State, college sports is a straightforward way of doing that, if you can scrape together the money. Would the money be better put somewhere else (including in the students’ pocketbook)? Sometimes, and sometimes when put to a vote, the students say “no thanks.” We’re talking about the schools that have decided otherwise. They’ve done so for a reason.

    With escalating costs, some might make a different choice in the future. It seems pretty far from clear that’s the case, though.

  23. Trumwill says:

    @James Joyner: Denver chose to forgo football in favor of hockey, where it’s easier to field a competitive team. Given the givens, that seems like the right call. Specializing in a non-traditional sport can be easier, and it might be more fun to go to a lacrosse game than a football game where you’re team is being pounded by 50 points against Oklahoma. It’s an institutional decision, though abstractly I think it’s something a lot of schools should think about.

    Regarding conferences, I wouldn’t go quite as far as you, but agree with the two-conference structure. I don’t know that I’d limit the first conference to just football, but I’d definitely take out most of the mandatory 14/16 sports. I like what the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVC & Summit League) and Colonial Athletic Association (CAA & A-10), where you have a combination football conference and two all-sports conferences. The WAC was aiming for a similar model with an umbrella football league and essentially two everything-else leagues. That makes a good deal of sense.

    I agree that sports have their benefits even if they are on TV. I’d love for the NCAA to have a scholarship-free program so that those that don’t sponsor football can, but without the scholarship requirements and financial race (and without the TV, obviously).

  24. James Joyner says:

    @Trumwill:

    I like what the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVC & Summit League) and Colonial Athletic Association (CAA & A-10), where you have a combination football conference and two all-sports conferences.

    That actually makes sense, although we’re probably too far down the path with football to fix that. For example, it would make sense for the SEC to pair up with either the ACC or the Big 12 in football but to keep the separate conferences for other sports. But having poached TAMU and Missouri makes that untenable now.

    I’d love for the NCAA to have a scholarship-free program so that those that don’t sponsor football can, but without the scholarship requirements and financial race (and without the TV, obviously).

    They do: It’s called Division III.

  25. Trumwill says:

    @James Joyner: The big conferences don’t really need to worry about travel expenses. It’s more the midmajors and below.

    Div3 is scholarship-free, but it’s hard to be in Div1 without scholarships (Ivy League does this, and Pioneer, but I think there should be NCAA provisions for it). I’d like George Mason to be able to field a football team without the scholarship commitments or giving up its hoops program. I think if something were established, it could help, though maybe GMU really doesn’t care if there aren’t publicity implications.

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @James Joyner:

    If you split a conference like the SEC into two non-football conference, all you will do is have the eight or so real SEC schools staying in a conference called the SEC and the non-real SEC schools is some also-ran conference.

    Four superconferences of 16 teams each actually creates 8 conferences (the divisions inside the conferences), creates the first round of the playoff with the conference championship game, and creates a natural schedule of 7 division games, two in-conference non-division game, and three non-conference (one each with the other three conferences).

    Of course, for this to work, the other 64 schools must get out of college football.

    Since less than 64 schools have Wal-Mart alumni (hangers-on) it is a natural fit.

  27. James Joyner says:

    @superdestroyer: Vanderbilt hasn’t been competitive in football in years; it’s still a member of the SEC. Ditto Duke and the ACC.

    As a matter of national prominence, there are two sports: football and men’s basketball. Women’s basketball gets some attention, although to a much more limited extent and, frankly, out of politics rather than widespread interest.

    Duke is a national powerhouse in basketball; that its football team sucks is largely irrelevant. If it dropped football but maintained its dominance in basketball, it would still be a very valuable member of the ACC.

    Ditto, to a lesser extent, UConn and the Big East.