Arizona State nearly broke an ankle hurrying to jump on the bandwagon following Tuesday’s announcement that D-I college football finally has a playoff format.
Before dinner was on the table, the ASU media guys had cranked out a statement from Vice President for University Athletics Steve Patterson, extolling the virtues of the landmark move, which will still have to be approved by the NCAA board.
“We are excited about the new four-team playoff for Division I football,” Patterson offered in the prepared statement. (Lower football divisions already had a playoff format). “We support Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott and the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee every step of the way. We congratulate them on their cautious deliberation concerning the future of the college football post-season.
“Today’s decision represents an exciting shift in the future of college football. We are looking forward to seeing this future flourish as we maintain our historic relationship with the Rose Bowl.”
(Interestingly, University of Arizona has posted nothing on its website about the move, and the Cats’ athletic director, Greg Byrne, didn’t include it in his weekly newsletter, which arrived last night.)
ASU’s reference to the Rose Bowl confirms a major tenet of the new format, leaving the long-standing agreement that the historic bowl be played between teams from the Big Ten and the Pac-12. That was reportedly a requirement before either conference would sign off on the new deal.
Under the new arrangement, orchestrated by 12 college presidents who sit on the Oversight Committee, six bowls will play host to the semi-final games. It would appear that the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and the new Champions Bowl will make the cut, and the other three bowls will be determined in a bidding arrangement.
The Fiesta Bowl, by the way, will undoubtedly be one of those bowls making a bid. A statement issued by the bowl indicated plans to submit a bid: “We look forward to participating in the new structure and will work to ensure that Arizona remains a destination for elite college-football bowl games.”
But the Fiesta Bowl Committee is taking that stance before they even know how much that honor is going to cost them. It will likely be more than the $6 million or so that it costs now to host a BCS game.
So, why shouldn’t ASU support the new idea? The Sun Devils still have their spot reserved in the Rose Bowl, and the state of Arizona will likely get another piece of the deal via the Fiesta Bowl.
Oh, and then there’s the deal about the money. Lots of money.
Early estimates indicate the television rights to the new playoff format, which would begin in the 2014-15 season, could rake in twice as much as what the current bowl system brings in… perhaps as much as $500 million. And ASU and the rest of the Pac-12 teams will get a shot at a share of the loot.
So, we’re finally done with all the moaning and groaning about the controversial bowl system, right? No, not exactly.
The teams that play for the national championship are currently picked based on the result of human polls, combined with computer rankings and strength of schedule. Under the new system, the participants in the two national semi-final games and the championship game will be picked by a committee of conference commissioners and athletic directors that will be guided by season records, head-to-head results, and strength of schedule.
What are the chances a committee of 15 or 20 individuals will be able to do a better job of selecting the top teams than polls and computers have in the past?
Since 1998, when the BCS system debuted, annual controversy could be expected over who deserves to play in the championship game. That probably won’t change much.
Now, instead of the No. 3 and No. 4 team complaining about being overlooked…the No. 5 and No. 6 teams will be the ones screaming about being left out.
Hey, as far as Arizona and Arizona State are concerned, that would actually be a nice problem to have.