Playoff issue divisive, but now there’s compromise

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When it comes to a college football playoff, there is one known truth: it’s being recommended, and barring a complete and sudden veto during conference spring meetings, four teams will compete for a BCS championship in 2014.

Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to how the whole thing will look. Bowl sites or on-campus? Selection committee or formula? Chicken or fish?

As a (sort of) member of the media, I can assure you the accommodation factor is (not) a hot button issue. Where I (won’t) sit inside Kansas State’s press box, or which Manhattan Motel 6 I (won’t) stay in — I don’t even want to fathom an hour wait at the local Applebee’s — are logistics to be settled on another day and, frankly, ones that I couldn’t give two squats about.

For now, there are bigger questions from some as to whether a four-team playoff is even in the best interest of the sport. Thanks to Josh Kendall at The State (SC), a pair of outspoken coaches, both with Florida ties, have given their opinion on the matter.

Ohio State Urban Meyer says he’s on the fence. “Can they really play 15 games?” Meyer pondered. “Where is this headed? I’m a traditionalist.”

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, on the other hand, knows exactly where it’s headed. Spurrier said he’s a fan of the playoff idea “and I (will) like the eight team when we go to that in about five years.”

But whether it’s five years or 10, the HBC is saying what surely many others are thinking. As John opined last week, a four-team playoff isn’t perfect, but it’s a start. And whether anyone out there reading this is for or against a playoff of any kind, you have to believe that a four-team playoff is the gateway to a larger pool of teams competing for a championship down the road.

Why? A four-team playoff has its own set of imperfections and the decision makers aren’t going into this blind to them. Granted, those imperfections are spilled milk compared to the current system, but imperfections nonetheless.

College football is accepting an alternative, knowing it doesn’t have to be the long-term answer. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Look, I’m as big a playoff advocate as anyone (although I didn’t use to be), but a four-team playoff will only modestly temper the annual complaining and howling about selection… revenue distribution… you name it. We’re talking about uncharted territory here.

Take the revenue, for example. The numbers vary, but it’s believed a playoff could exponentially increase the amount of money poured into the sport. Who will benefit from that extra money? It should be the athletes across all sports, who work tirelessly for their coaches and their school. Will they, though?

That’s the question.

Eventually, the answer, along with others, will come from another event (see 2012 BCS championship). And another set of meetings. And another set of change.

It’s evolution.

It’s just a matter of whether the likes of Jim Delany and Bill Hancock will be part of the evolution when it happens.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.