It appears the athletic directors and conference commissioners in college football have been listening to football fans after all. After three days of meetings in Hollywood, Florida, we are very close to at least a four-team playoff to determine a national champion. That means the BCS format as we know it, could soon be a thing of the past. The new playoff format could become a reality in time for the 2014 season.
One of the principle characters at the meetings was SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, whose four-team playoff plan was abruptly turned down at these same meetings four years ago. When asked if he thought the BCS format would survive past the next couple of years, Slive replied, “I hope not.” Of course Slive is talking about the format put together by his SEC predecessor Roy Kramer. Kramer has been supportive of a playoff all along, but the closest he could get to one was the current BCS plan that has been in effect for the last 14 years.
The fact that the men in control have now agreed on a four-team playoff is the easy part. The hard part is how to format it. Do they include the current bowl games or do they separate them completely? When will they play the games and where will they play them? They have plenty of time to figure those things out, because the first “Playoff Championship Game” won’t be played until January of 2015. That is three years for those who refuse to count.
Even though it’s good news and will be a very popular move among football fans, these same men want to make sure they get it right. That’s why it’s taking three years to implement the plan. “This is a seismic change for college football.” BCS executive director Bill Hancock said this week. Hancock also said he wants a new format ready for approval by July 4th. If a new plan cannot be agreed upon, they would simply revamp the old BCS plan which aims for a number one and number two match up.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive seems to have the right idea. “One of the goals is to make the post season a celebration of college football. And to focus in on a reasonable time frame that is consistent with a reasonable bowl season, then to have a championship game and semi-finals at a time and a place that would allow us to really celebrate college football, at a time when people are thinking about college football, which is in and around the end of December and early January.”
When to play the games is obviously easy, but it could get really sticky when discussions begin regarding where to play the games. The Big Ten and Pac 12 want the semi-finals at least, to be played on campus sites. Slive and others are pushing for neutral sites. No matter which plan is chosen, football fans will be happy, and ready to see a huge chunk of politics taken out of the equation. It shouldn’t be hard at all to find the top four teams in the country for a playoff.
The fact that we are even having discussions about a college football playoff is encouraging. We’ve waited this long; we can wait a bit longer. Think back to when college football allowed games to end in a tie. It took a long time for the game to embrace overtime. When college football powers finally did, it made the game much better. Here’s hoping the outcome will be the same for a new playoff system.
Contact Randy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 42 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer, author and is also a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. He is currently teaching an "Intro To Sportscasting" class at Red Bank, the only class of its type in Tennessee.
Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 10 years.
Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry Davey and Alison Smith). They also have one grandchild (Coleman).