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Sun Devils prez pushing for an eight-team playoff

Arizona State Introduces Todd Graham Getty Images

In the past several months we’ve seen the president of the NCAA, the Big Ten and the executive director of the BcS acknowledge in some form or another that a change to major college football is coming, with all heavily intimating that a four-team playoff would be palatable.  Earlier this week, Georgia president Michael Adams wouldn’t rule out an eight-team playoff as Div. 1-A’s first foray into a playoff system.

Now the president of a member of the Pac-12, which along with its Rose Bowl counterpart has long been staunchly anti-playoff, has gone public with the most “radical” concept for how the postseason should be structured.

In an interview with Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic, Arizona State president Michael Crow (pictured, right) laid out his proposal for a playoff system that would be run — our emphasis added — by the NCAA: the eight highest-ranked champions from the 11 conferences participating in a single-elimination tournament.  Crow, the Republic writes, “declined to specifically say how the playoff would work, such as seeding or where games would be played.”

There was also no mention of how independents such as Notre Dame and BYU could qualify for such a playoff system, although “get the hell in a conference” would be implied.

For as radical as it looks compared to what’s already been tossed out there for public consumption, Crow’s proposal doesn’t appear to be a case of flinging something against the wall and hoping it sticks:

He said his plan has some momentum among other college presidents inside and outside his conference, though he declined to identify them. He said he will push other Pacific-12 Conference presidents to adopt his proposal when they meet next month in Los Angeles.

If Crow’s system were in place for the 2011 season, and the BcS rankings were utilized, the playoff field would’ve consisted of LSU (SEC), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Oregon (Pac-12), TCU (MWC), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Clemson (ACC), Southern Miss (Conference USA) and West Virginia (Big East).  If seedings were based solely on BcS rankings, the matchups would’ve looked as follows:

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 23 West Virginia (a regular season rematch, of course)
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Southern Miss
No. 5 Oregon vs.  No. 18 TCU
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 15 Clemson

Noticeably absent?  2011 BcS champion Alabama, which did not win its division let alone its conference and thus would not qualify under Crow’s proposal.

Crow’s plan would likely meet serious resistance from, among others, the SEC, which has placed two teams inside the top eight in each of the past six final regular-season BcS rankings.  Resistance could also come from the Big Ten, which by all accounts is grudgingly being pulled into considering a four-team model; an eight-team playoff right out of the gate may cause Jim Delany‘s head to spontaneously combust.

As was the case with the Big Ten kicking around a four-team playoff with on-campus semifinals, though, the powerbrokers in college football — for whatever reason — are coming to the realization that the postseason in its sport is broken and something, anything, needs to be done to fix it.

“In the Pac-12, we are not strong supporters of the present model,” Crow said.

“The reason for this new model is the model we have right now is not conducive to the long-term success of college football.”

One other interesting note from the Republic’s piece: Bill Hancock, executive director of the BcS, stated that a final decision on what the future of college football’s postseason will look like when the current cycle ends after the 2013 season could be made this summer.

Long-needed change is coming to the top level of college football, and it appears to be coming faster than even the staunchest playoff proponents could’ve ever anticipated.

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15 Responses to “Sun Devils prez pushing for an eight-team playoff”
  1. xtremesportsmaniac says: Feb 10, 2012 9:33 AM

    I like it and I agree you should have to be a conference champion to make the playoffs. Given the lack of quality OOC games each year its hard to really tell how teams should be ranked. A couple years ago we almost had a OSU and Michigan rematch. In the end both teams were blown out in their bowl games after being ranked in the top 4.

    I know you don’t have to win your conference to make the NFL playoffs but they also play 10 OOC games each year.

  2. woebegong says: Feb 10, 2012 9:56 AM

    It will take a lot of work, and stepping carefully to come up with a plan that will satisfy the majority of the conferences in this one. You would think there would have to be at least one spot left open for an independent, so some type of formula will have to be used to determine the one that gets in. It will have to be a formula that is not open to questions for the most part, or the same problems will exist.

  3. southernpatriots says: Feb 10, 2012 10:07 AM

    It is gratifying in our life times, after many decades of support of myself, my family, my friends, and all the fellow alums we all know, that playoffs seems to be inevitable with a building momentum toward the new post-season format. Having conference champions is a good step in that direction. With Super Conferences well on their way, there would need to be some consideration of that eventually,we would guess.

    If the new format either requires conferences to have a championship game or chooses its champion by an in-conference record with numerous tie breakers, the new format should accommodate them. If accommodations are not make for independents, it would behoove independents who for the most part already participate in a conference for some of their lesser sports, to join one for football.

    As we posted on a previous related blog here on CFT, please write, email, or telephone your school’s president since it will be s/he who will make the final decision as to what format is used and if any playoff system is inaugurated at all. Let your voice be heard by those who will make the decision!

  4. Jordan Woodson says: Feb 10, 2012 10:14 AM

    Why would VT get in over Clemson? VT didn’t win the ACC, although they were ranked higher. Clemson was the ACC Champion and defeated VT twice.

  5. John Taylor says: Feb 10, 2012 10:21 AM

    100-percent correct on Clemson.

  6. bozosforall says: Feb 10, 2012 10:35 AM

    16-team playoff would be better…one more week but would allow each of the 11 conference champs to be in, plus 5 wild card teams from among the independents (though I am a big fan of the “get the hell into a conference” solution for those guys) and the stronger conferences.

  7. woebegong says: Feb 10, 2012 10:40 AM

    For schools that have a conference play off, that could mean a total of 18 games to get to the final two. Have a 16 team playoff and you might as well say it officially, that the NCAA is the minor leagues for the NFL. The eight game playoff is probably about right, unless you want college football running into February.

  8. rubbernilly says: Feb 10, 2012 11:23 AM

    Doesn’t have to run into february, just get it started earlier after the season.

    I, too, am a fan of “get the hell in a conference,” but I think that every conference needs to be included. If a conference is viable by NCAA rules (ie, 8 teams) and those teams are all deemed to be of the I-A level, then that conference champion needs to be given the same consideration as any other champion. If they’re “less than,” that will be exposed on the field… which is where it *should* be exposed. Not in some poll.

    If you aren’t EVER going to let those schools in to the tourney, then why the hell are they at this level? Create a mid-tier level… something between I-A and I-AA. Otherwise, if they and their conference meet NCAA guidelines for viability, you have to give them a chance.

    That’s why I’m in favor of a 16 team system… all conference champions involved, and enough wild-cards to fill out the dance.

  9. rubbernilly says: Feb 10, 2012 11:26 AM

    And I don’t really want to hear people whining about how Alabama might not have gotten in under the playoff system proposed in the article (though they would have in a 16 team playoff system).

    The giants were 9-7 to finish the regular season. And yet they end up winning everything. Would anyone have batted an eye if they hadn’t made it into the post-season? It’s the same thing.

    I bet some of the same people who say that “college football is the most meaningful season in all of sports” and “every game matters” (both laughably absurd notions, btw) would turn around and beg an indulgence for Alabama, who lost to LSU in the regular season, and didn’t even win their division in their conference. #incredible

  10. woebegong says: Feb 10, 2012 11:38 AM

    I would think, if you started football any earlier than it is now, you would have teams playing starting in about the third week of July. Let’s not forget, these kids are not getting paid for playing and although it sometimes seems a joke to call a lot of them student-athletes, they are still that and need to devote some time to their studies or they will not be playing come the season opener. Most schools don’t even start the academic year until at the earliest the last week in August, summer classes not being considered. You would have to move spring practice one way or another 1 month either way to accommodate this, and these kids need time to heal and a little down time, before starting another season of wear and tear on their body. Some might welcome it, but I don’t think a lot of the kids want to play 16-17 games in a season.

  11. rolltide510 says: Feb 10, 2012 12:01 PM

    College football will never be fair until it adopts the best-of-seven championship format used in baseball and basketball. I mean, those sports use it to great success, so why wouldn’t CFB?

  12. rubbernilly says: Feb 10, 2012 12:29 PM

    @rolltide510: why wouldn’t CFB?

    …you play dumb so well.

    Conf. Championship weekend is the first weekend in December. Four weeks of playoffs means that the NC is played the first week in January.

    In all, we’d be no later into the year than we are now. What am I missing here?

    As for the number of games they’re playing…
    Only 2 teams would play the NC game… (17 games, max)
    Only 4 teams would play Christmas weekend… (2 @ 16 games)
    No more than 8 teams would have 15 games or more

    Not to mention, if it were 12 teams instead of 16, the top-4 could get a bye coming off of their conference championship weekend… so they’d have a week off… even as the tourney still wrapped up the first week of January.

    Currently, a team playing a conference championship game and then a bowl has about 14 games, so 15 games is only where you start diverging from what we’ve got already. And, if that’s still too much, limit your OOC play. You only have to play to win your conference to get into the tourney. Cut one OOC game out of your schedule.

  13. woebegong says: Feb 10, 2012 12:52 PM

    My point being; Do you really want two teams or any teams for that matter playing eighteen games to decide a national championship? Are these kids going to get compensated for their extra work. As of right now, the SEC ends it regular season on November 24th. The SECCC is played usually a week later. For two teams, that makes game number 13 on the first weekend in December. Then I woulds assume two weeks later we start the play offs. The students is now in or very close to the Christmas break, and the football player is now playing his 14th game over the holidays. assuming they win that game, the next playoff game is most likely the or near the end of December. Game number 15. Now we are down to eight teams and you would have to assume, with the unknown at the colleges of who is going to be in that final eight that you would need a two week break for the college to get ready to play that game, so we are talking say the second week in January, game number 16. Assuming you then advance to the final four, game number 17 for some teams is now, near the end of January and the 18th game played for all the marbles in somewhere within the the first one or two weeks of February.
    That is a lot of games played for a college team, and some place along the line you have to figure time for finals. The athlete can forget Christmas break, and studying for classes during this long period will be pretty difficult as well. A possible 18 game season, and the reward is you get to get further behind in your studies and lose the breaks you would normally get a little of in a normal bowl year. It would not be fair to the student athlete in my opinion. At least an 8 game play off might be better for the kids.

  14. dkhhuey says: Feb 10, 2012 2:08 PM

    A playoff system in college football will not work – it will not solve anything! It will only amplify the current pile of bitching and complaining done by the media and proponent fans. Those in favor of it can’t even remotely agree on how many teams and a format it will take, let alone the million other logistical nightmare questions that need to be solved. The only thing a playoff system will accomplish is further add to the steamy smell pile of said bitching and complaining.

  15. rubbernilly says: Feb 10, 2012 4:36 PM

    dkhhuey says:
    A playoff system in college football will not work

    Um… it works at the FCS level.

    And the only reason proponents can’t agree at this point on format or number of teams is because we are all, in varying degrees, attempting to blunt the criticism of people (perhaps like you) who want *nothing* changed. Some proposals have been put forward and then been curtailed by the “back in my day” crowd. Others are only coming out now, but with an eye to that same crowd.

    Some people are quite concerned about the pushback regarding the bowl system, and others not so much. Therefore you see different proposals.

    The most important thing about the post season is that it is fair.

    Most important. To me that means that the bowl system is on the block. Keep what’s good. Trim what’s not.

    And once you have a system that’s fair, you’ll eliminate 98% of the bitching. You might have the odd school here or there who is unhappy they were left out of the tourney, but if they’re team #17 in a 16 team tourney, they really don’t have much to complain about.

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