Commissioners not concerned about unbalanced college football playoff semi-finals as expansion talk continues


As college football playoff executives prepare for another face-to-face meeting in Indianapolis on Saturday to discuss expanding the current four-team system, the lopsided semi-final scores that allowed two SEC teams to playing for the national title – again – might not resonate as much with Commissioners as they did with fans and critics over the past week.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey obviously has no objections, but that will be the backdrop for the discussions as the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick continue to debate the future model on the better suited to sport.

“I think college football is best served by a wider participation in national championship games, but the point is, you have to beat these people,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN on Tuesday. “And that means you have to go and do it on the football field. It has nothing to do with the format; it has to do with who is playing at the highest level.”

For the second time in eight years of the CFP era, it is No. 1 in Alabama and No. 3 in Georgia. They also faced each other in the 2018 national title game, and this season in the SEC Championship game. Alabama defeated Cincinnati 27-6 in the CFP semifinals at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, and Georgia defeated Michigan 34-11 in the CFP semifinals at the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Five of the PSC’s last eight seasons have featured semifinals with average winning margins of at least 22 points. This year’s winning margin of 44 points overall was the closest of any New Year’s semifinals (58 points in 2015 and 48 points in 2016).

“I don’t think it should really matter,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco told ESPN. “I think we’re talking about a playoff that would be essentially more inclusive, give an opportunity to more teams, and if you gave an opportunity to more teams, you know, a few of these teams might perform at a level better than the teams you choose. “

The biggest talking point remains what the format should be, as there is still some support for an eight-team model, but the majority in the room is in favor of a 12-team field. One of the questions at the heart of the debate is whether there should be automatic qualifiers for the Power 5 champions and the top-ranked Group of 5 conference champion, or whether the bids should go to the six conference champions. the highest ranked, plus the next six highest ranked teams, as suggested in the initial proposal released on June 10.

Because there remain differing opinions, several commissioners involved in the talks told ESPN on Tuesday they had serious doubts whether they could agree to extend the playoffs at that time.

“I expect that we will continue the discussions and people in the room will say what they have said publicly, which will reiterate the fact that we do not have 11 people agreeing on a format,” he said. said Pac-12 commissioner Georg Kliavkoff. “And unfortunately that means we now need to focus on what the model might look like after the current term and hopefully make it retroactive so that we can expand into the current term.”

Bowlsby said he would be “very pleasantly surprised” if they came to any conclusions “because I don’t think there’s a lot of spirit to do what’s best for the game.”

“I think people are protecting their territory,” he said, “and… we have to go to the meeting trying to think about what’s good, the best for college football, not what’s the best. better for a particular league. “

Sankey has said publicly on several occasions that his conference would favor maintaining the current four-team format, an eight-team field that rewards the top eight teams or the original 12-team proposal. He said on Tuesday that he believed the MFF’s management committee could come up with a resolution this weekend.

“I showed up in early December ready to make a decision,” he said. “Others weren’t. I can speak for myself and I can speak for this conference: we are ready to make a decision. The question is whether the others are ready to make a decision?

“I’m not a timing expert, but at one point the box has too many bumps from kicking the road and won’t be as accessible for kicks,” he said. . “The reality is that if we don’t make a decision now, the same issues identified are going to be present, whether it’s 12, 18, or 24 months from now when we are nearing the end of a 12-year cycle … and we will have to tackle decision-making in the future.… We are ready to engage in this decision-making process now. “


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