DeLoss Dodds, Texas men’s athletic director and a longtime proponent of a playoff system for college football, welcomes the College Football Playoff for the 2014 season but said Thursday that it represents only a “baby step” in the right direction.
During the Big 12 spring meetings, Dodds called for expansion of the four-team playoff field in future seasons to minimize the potential controversy around the first team omitted from the bracket.
“I’m kind of an eight-team person,” Dodds said. “I think there will be a lot of conversation about the fifth team that didn’t get in or the 11-1 team that didn’t get in because somebody’s 12-0 that maybe wasn’t quite as good as the 11-1 team. If you take eight, then you don’t really have that. The ninth team has got a concern. But it’s not really like the fifth team.”
Dodds’ stance echoed sentiments expressed May 2 by Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. In a news conference in Arlington, Kelly said: “I don’t know that four is where we’re going to finish this thing. I think it’s a great entry into where we want to go. Moving forward, I think the focus… will be on whether it’s eight or 16 [teams] or whatever the number is.”
Despite the lobbying efforts, administrators with the College Football Playoff have stressed they will not expand the bracket beyond the four-team model during the 12 years of its inaugural cycle. Cowboys Stadium will host the first title game of the playoff era on Jan. 12, 2015.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who helped craft the 12-year agreement, acknowledged that willing parties “can always extricate yourself from contracts” but stressed that he does not envision expanding past a four-team playoff field any time soon.
Going from four to eight teams, Bowlsby said, would “irreversibly change the bowl environment.” And many of the commissioners involved in the process agreed to a playoff only because they were convinced it could occur “without decimating” the bowl system.
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said: “Let’s give four a shot. I’m not sure I would advocate eight at this point…. Eight teams becomes an NFL model. That’s a lot, when you consider finals.”
Of more immediate concern on the playoff front is identifying members of the selection committee that will seed the teams. Both Dodds and Luck said they would not be interested in serving on the committee but expressed confidence that many qualified candidates would volunteer.
Although administrators talk frequently about having a level playing field for playoff candidates, Dodds said he is not concerned about the Big 12 being pressured by administrators from other leagues to add a championship game. As a 10-member league, the Big 12 is the lone conference in the playoff mix that will not stage a championship game to help finalize its playoff representative(s).
“Some years, it’s going to be unlevel in our favor. Some years, it’s going to be unlevel in their favor,” Dodds said about the lack of a title game in football. “Anybody that tries to change that is going to get bit a few years later.”
Women to Dallas
Big 12 administrators selected the American Airlines Center in Dallas as site of the 2015 women’s basketball tournament, with the 2016 event headed to Oklahoma City. Both events will be played the week before the men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo., in those seasons, Bob Bowlsby said.
NCAA president Mark Emmert met Thursday with Big 12 administrators and expressed interest in possibly adding a fourth subdivision of larger schools within the organization’s framework.
Big 12 administrators warmed up to the idea.
DeLoss Dodds said the NCAA, which has received significant criticism in recent months, “can be fixed” but needs more federation within the organization that would allow larger schools to better govern themselves.
“Everybody admits there is work to be done,” Bob Bowlsby said.
“It would be unforthright to say that people aren’t concerned and frustrated with the legislative process and the governance processes.”
Asked if he had concerns about his job status, Emmert said: “I do not. I feel comfortable with my board, and I’m comfortable with the work we’re getting done.”
Bob Bowlsby said the league’s ongoing talks about a scheduling alliance with the Atlantic Coast Conference would include more than football games.
Bowlsby said most spring sports would be involved, including baseball and softball, as well as several Olympic sports. But no final decisions have been made.
“We’ve slung a lot of mud up against the wall,” Bowlsby said. “Some of it will stick and some of it won’t.”