Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Breaking down football playoff

CHICAGO — College football is headed toward a new era, with a four-team playoff deciding the champion starting in 2014. As conference commissioners said during the six months it has taken for them to come up with a playoff plan to present to university presidents next week for approval, "The devil is in the details."

Here are some of those details.

WHY NOW? For years, the Big Ten and the then-Pac-10 were adamantly against a playoff. What changed? Well, the Pac-10 and its commissioner for starters. Larry Scott has pushed the league to be more progressive and its members have reaped millions of dollars in rewards because of his bold moves.

In the Big Ten, as much as commissioner Jim Delany has been against a playoff, he realized the BCS just wasn't worth fighting so hard for anymore.

"No system can stand that much criticism and be sustainable," he said Thursday.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY: There was never any question that a playoff would bring in more money than the BCS, with its hit-or-miss bowl games and often controversial championship matchup. With budgets being slashed at universities, the people in charge could no longer justify leaving so much behind. In TV rights alone, a playoff would bring in at least $300 million a year. The current BCS and Rose Bowl deals are worth about $155 million annually.

WHAT BECOMES OF THE BOWLS? The BCS championship game already had made the high-profile bowls less relevant. Now take the four best teams out of the bowls and put them in semifinals and a bowl bid will feel like even more of a consolation prize.

WINNERS: If it's college football, the SEC must be winning. The playoff negotiations were no different. SEC commissioner Mike Slive, whose teams have won the past six BCS titles, has been pushing for a playoff since 2008.

LOSERS: As much as the BCS seemed stacked against the teams from conferences outside the six founding member leagues, a playoff-driven postseason could widen the gap even more. While a playoff will increase the amount of revenue the postseason generates, those funds might be distributed more unevenly.

Leagues such as the Mountain West, Conference USA and the Sun Belt will make more in total but could get a smaller percentage of the pie. And if schedule strength will be emphasized for picking the playoff participants, how do those teams fortify their schedules to match what the teams from power leagues already have built-in?

NOT SO BIG EAST: There have been six major conferences. The Big East, after being plundered by expansion, is on the verge of second-tier status. How much less the conference that includes USF gets in revenue from the playoff than the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC will be something to watch closely.

A FEW GOOD MEN: It's not clear yet who will be on the committee given the task of picking the best four teams in the country, though it will probably be similar to the basketball selection committee — commissioners and athletic directors.

"I think you need a thick skin and an honest heart" to be on the committee, Delany said.

Ultimately, what might matter most is the parameters for making their decisions. The commissioners want to stress strength of schedule, give conference champions some preference and provide an RPI-like rating system for guidance to make it less of a guessing game.

Breaking down football playoff 06/21/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Road to Atlanta: Tell us how you really feel, Jimbo


    Topped out

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 21:  Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide tackles Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 775042495
  2. Journal: USF gets support on the road


    NEW ORLEANS — Perhaps it was the chance to witness the first USF-Tulane game ever, or an opportunity to frolic in the French Quarter for a weekend. Or both.

    USF running back D'Ernest Johnson (2) stiff-arms Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson (17) on a run during the second half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH111
  3. Joey Knight's takeaways from USF-Tulane


    1. Saturday's triumph will do little to fortify USF's strength of schedule, but its strength-of-character quotient might have increased. On the road facing an eclectic offense, the Bulls built a huge lead, then made critical plays in the waning moments after some defensive lapses. In short, they survived. Isn't …

    South Florida defensive end Greg Reaves (41) reacts after a defensive stop against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH107
  4. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  5. Lightning journal: Tighter defense fuels hot start

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — See what happens when you keep the crease clean, limit the traffic in front of G Andrei Vasilevskiy and limit Grade A scoring chances?

    Yanni Gourde, right, gets a late first-period goal that follows a big save by Andrei Vasilevskiy.