INDIANAPOLIS – Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby walked past a half-eaten chocolate birthday cake with his name in the JW Marriott hallway before announcing to a group of reporters the outcome of a three-day meeting with the College Football Playoff Steering Committee.
“There’s no decision,” Bowlsby said flatly.
With this, there will be no celebration of the possibility of expanding the College Football Playoff. The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick met here for three days and did not come to a conclusion about the 12-team playoffs, which was proposed in June.
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“Everyone is more interested in their own silos than others,” Bowlsby said. “I think for the first time around Jim Delany and Mike Slive, they have overcome their individual interests to do what’s best for college football. That’s why we have a playoffs. That didn’t happen this time.”
How do you combine these conference outlooks? CFP CEO Bill Hancock said automatic qualifiers and bowls continue to be a pitfall in the plan.
Dishes can be resolved later. Automatic qualifications seem to be the most pressing issue. It is no coincidence that Bowlsby used the names of former Big Ten and SEC commissioners, and that the two conferences attract the largest revenue from the FBS. The original proposal of 12 teams required the inclusion of the six highest-ranking champions of the conference. and then the six highest-ranking teams.
It’s hard to sell the CFP to be geographically fair for all schools, when the reality is that the SEC, which had CFP championships in Alabama and Georgia on Monday, dominates the sport since the Bowl Championship Series. The SEC has the strongest power in current college football, and Oklahoma and Texas have not yet arrived. Does this mean that the SEC should compromise on automatic qualifications?
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“As a conference, we support the 12-team playoffs currently under discussion,” said CFP Chairman and Mississippi President Mark Keenum. “Eventually, if some of these issues are not resolved and we are unable to sign a contract, we may need to stay with four teams in the interests of college football.”
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said ahead of ESPN.com meetings that Power 5 champions should qualify in an expanded format. The conference is also part of an alliance with ACC and Pac-12.
Bowlsby is battling in the Big 12 fight, which will include four new members in BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and South Florida. Then there’s Group 5, which has watched Cincinnati qualify for the playoffs of four teams from the American Athletics Conference this season.
It’s less about the number of teams, at least for now. If it is clear that the extension is justified, but if they cannot agree on 12, then why not reduce it back to eight teams?
“There are extension times for four, there are extension times for eight, there are delays for 12,” Bowlsby said. “It was a frustrating process. I think four worked, so there are those who like four.”
Nevertheless, the 12-team plan has the biggest move. This is the number of automatic qualifications. How many conference champions should an automatic bed get? Should Power 5 conferences guarantee one of these qualifications? This remains one worth pursuing, and the committee should be open to all ideas, from six automatic qualifiers to no automatic qualifications (this idea was made impossible due to conference championship games, but should still be explored).
But there must be movement at the next meeting. When Bowlsby was asked to repeat this process at the last seven meetings since June, he added an icy single layer.
“Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day?” he asked rhetorically. “There’s more parish than would be needed.”
If this behavior does not stop, the sport will suffer. The current College Football Playoff contract expires after the 2025 season. To change the format of the four teams, all conferences would have to support the switch. The playoffs of the four teams will remain in 2022 and 2023 and it looks like 2024 and 2025.
“We still have four years left, but we want to decide before that,” Keenum said. “It’s not just one school or conference. You have it nationwide. There are conferences around the country who are interested in it. We’re going to work out the whole process.”
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So there is time, but there is more work than expected after a three-day stalemate. That should be a disappointment.
“I feel like most of the group left a little disappointed that we weren’t able to reach our destination,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. The SEC network then. “I’ve heard it describe how we’re just in overtime. This may be a match for nine overtime and we’re at a point where no one can achieve a two-point conversion.”
Well, 10 commissioners and Swarbrick should find the right game and work together to solve the AQ problem. The next meeting will be the eighth.
“We’ve solved some of the problems,” Bowlsby said. “There are a lot of big ones left that we have a lot of work to do.”
It was still a disappointment, and it was reflected in his tone. He left the group of reporters and someone shouted, “Happy birthday, Bob.”
Bowlsby shook his head and left.
He didn’t look happy at all.