One more fact is all but secure when it comes to a college football playoff: the two semifinal games and championship will not be held on campus.
Beyond that, how the teams are selected and where the games will be played — meaning either neutral or bowl sites — remain rather large question marks.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds says he has the answers. Frankly, they’re pretty good too.
Speaking with Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman, Dodds says he favors a selection committee of about “seven or nine” panelists (to avoid a tie) with strong football backgrounds. They could be former coaches, ADs, commissioners, etc.
Dodds also thinks the “entity needs to be separate” when placing the final four teams. “It needs to be their own bowls, their own TV, their own sponsors. Those four selected would not play in the bowls. And I’d have ‘em bid it out to cities and stadiums for the three games, and I favor neutral sites for the games because using the campuses (as host sites, at least for the two semifinal games) would be too much of an advantage.”
Take the payout/money issue out of the equation for a minute. Whether major college football has a four-team playoff or eventually an eight-team playoff — the number doesn’t really matter — the point is that it is co-existing with the bowls. In other words, the sole purpose is to determine a national champion on the field.
With that in mind, make the event as separate from the bowls as possible, from selection to sites.
The current national champion is decided by a bunch of arbitrary computer formulas and irrelevant polls that punish teams not just for losing, but for when they lose. A committee similar (only smaller) to the one selecting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament would be much more inclined to reward, say, Oregon for their early-season game against LSU (not to mention winning the Pac-12) over Stanford, which didn’t play a top 25 team for the first six weeks of the season yet finished ahead of the Ducks at the end of the regular season.
If the goal is to select the four best teams — I just don’t see a conference champion-only playoff happening — then have a group that’s not only dedicated to that selection process, but has to be held accountable as well. Right now, there’s zero accountability in the BCS.
Secondly, I’ve made it clear before I favor semifinal games on campus, but neutral sites have the potential to sell out as well. College football’s power brokers obviously don’t care if fans travel or not as long as the dollar signs keep rolling in through sponsorships and TV revenue. And don’t think for an instance a semifinal/championship game at a neutral site won’t get both.
That said, it appears Dodds is in the minority on the latter issue.
That’s okay. There’s still time to decide.