Long before Jim Delany and the Big Ten earlier this week seemingly hopped onboard the playoff train for major college football, Mike Slive had been sitting in the engine wearing his lil’ conductor’s cap… and with nowhere to go.
The SEC commissioner, along with his ACC counterpart John Swofford, proposed a “plus-one” playoff model years ago that was shot down by, among others, the Big Ten. Now that seemingly everybody and their conference brethren are coming around to the idea of implementing (at least) a four-team playoff once the current BcS cycle ends in 2014, though, Slive is preaching the concept of not putting the postseason cart ahead of the horse.
At least twice during a question-and-answer session at the Nashville Sports Council Wednesday Slive used the word “premature” when talking about the speculation of where the postseason in major college football might be headed. However, the commissioner of the conference that’s won the past six BcS titles also indicated, as have many others, that a decision on how future champions are crowned could happen as early as later this year.
“Really a lot of this discussion is premature, and I want to respect the process that we’re in. … We’ve had four-year formats since we started. We’ve done it on the basis of four years, so each four-year period you have to sit down and decide what format is going to be going forward. So we have decided to sit down and talk about this from every different side.”
“What would it look like and whether it’s actually going to happen, all of that is premature,” Slive said. “I think we need the time to sit down and analyze it. We need time to take ideas back to our respective conferences and … a decision to be made sometime later this year as we begin to talk about the … next format.”
Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips was the object of some derision when he was quoted as saying college football in general and the Big Ten in particular “have to listen to the fans… we cannot be tone-deaf” when it comes to the postseason. Long a playoff proponent, Georgia president Michael Adams backed up Phillips on hearing the fans and actually listening to what the vast majority of them have been clamoring for over the past decade or more.
“I can see it coming down the track and I think we will end up with something that the fans feel better about,” Adams said yesterday following an UGA board meeting. “We may never get anything that the fans feel perfectly happy about. But one of my major concerns all along has been that I didn’t think we were paying enough attention to the fans who foot the bill for all this. And I think that realization is beginning to come home.”
Whether it’s a four-team playoff with on-campus semifinals as the Big Ten reportedly prefers or an eight-team playoff that utilizes current bowls or anything in between, it appears there’s a growing momentum for some type of playoff structure to either enhance or replace entirely the current system.
“[I]if there’s going to be change, this is probably the natural time to do it,” Adams said. “The signals that you all saw, that the Big Ten and Pac-12 sent in the last few days indicates that those talks are moving forward.”
Moving forward and heading straight toward the beginning of something that should’ve been done a long, long time ago.