It looks like the Pac-12 wants to be the lead dog on the playoff debate sled.
Leaders of the Pac-12 Conference agreed in principle Saturday to try to end college football’s Bowl Championship Series, proposing its replacement with a playoff system that would allow only conference winners to play for college football’s national title.
“I don’t hear anyone saying business as usual is acceptable,” said Edward Ray, Oregon State University’s president and chairman of the Pac-12 universities’ CEO group. “We need change.”
The size and shape of the new postseason are some of the kinks left to be worked out – how the Rose Bowl fits in with a four- or eight-team playoff, particularly when there appears to be some disgruntlement over the bowls, looks like a sticking point – but there seems to be clear sentiment to follow Larry Scott’s path towards a conference champion-only format.
“The BCS polls have had unintended consequences that are very negative in terms of the culture around football that places a premium on not losing,” Scott said. “The BCS system really doesn’t have any value around strength of schedule. It’s about won-loss records. It’s encouraged by coaches and conferences to want to schedule games as easy as possible and to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes more to buy games and easy wins.”
Well, duh, Larry. Like your proposal is going to stop that.
But the real 800-pound gorilla in the room with Scott and the Pac-12 isn’t Mike Slive and his conference (and don’t think Scott’s quote wasn’t pointed in the specific direction of the SEC). It’s Notre Dame. Dennis Dodd describes the dynamic accurately when he writes,
There is a way Notre Dame could be allowed special access into the new postseason. The question is, should it? With the apparent end of automatic qualifiers, what is the line between the haves and have-nots? Will there be one at all? Notre Dame is the only single entity in the room deciding the future of college football. But the other partners control the football future of Notre Dame.
I have no doubt there will be a full court press put on the Irish to join a conference. I also have no doubt that Notre Dame will resist. What is Swarbrick going to hear now that he hasn’t already heard before?
Those of you who think that Notre Dame’s on the field results have made it an irrelevancy which can be conveniently brushed aside in the rush to give the people what they want (hey, don’t forget Michael Adams “feels frustrated for the fans”) are missing the point. Notre Dame still draws viewership in a way that no other school really does. Why do you think Swarbrick is the only AD allowed in the room with Slive, Delany and Scott in the first place? Hint: it ain’t because they want to discuss the finer points of Brian Kelly’s public etiquette. He’s there for the same reason that major bowls fight over extending an invitation to an eight-win (hell, seven wins will do nicely, sometimes) Irish squad. It’s where the money is.
Swarbrick’s no fool, by the way. He knows why he’s there.
Which is why Dodd’s plus-one format suggestion of the top three ranked conference champs along with the next-highest ranked team getting the last spot screams successful short-term compromise. I bet Mike Slive would sign on to that. So would Swarbrick. Would it last? Hell, no. What’s your point?