College Football Playoff: Amid dissension Greg Sankey says four teams works

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

An expanded College Football Playoff was thought to be assured. It was, in the minds of most who worked so hard to craft it, an ‘almost done’ deal. That was the perception in mid-June. Most of the work had been done by a four-member subcommittee of the College Football Playoff (CFP) management committee. The four members were Bob Bowlsby of the Big 12, Craig Thompson of the Moutain West, Jack Swarbrick of Notre Dame and the SEC’s Greg Sankey.

The four men had worked long and hard, shielding from scrutiny, not only their ideas but also their in-person meeting locations. A much-discussed 12-team format was released for open debate and discussion in June. There was a solid consensus to move forward with the plan proposed by the subcommittee. No timetable was determined. Instead, discussions were to take place to gain input from more campus officials and other stakeholders.

It took a few weeks of grumbling, but between June and September, the deal’s wheels fell off. There are many reasons why. A partial summary of the complaints is provided below.

Authors Note: Many sports journalists have carefully followed this evolving story. For more complete details read Ross Dellenger of si.comDennis Dodd of CBS Sports; and Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

12-Team College Football Playoff Format Complaints

  • Twelve team format makes the season too long for too many teams
  • First Round Games should be in existing bowls, rather than on-campus
  • Rather than the proposed, six highest-ranked conference champions getting bids, automatic bids for conference champions, need to be re-considered.
  • The Rose Bowl is unwilling to adjust its current date and format of a Pac 12 team playing a Big Ten team
  • When to implement – as in later, rather than sooner

Many of the complaints go back to dollars generated and dollars distributed. It is fair to suggest most of the complaints by conference and bowl entities are almost all about the dollars.

Pride and Jealousy

The disputes are driven by more than money. More than a few parties involved see the debate as a turf war. The Rose Bowl is not alone in that perspective, but it is a good example. Bowls, conferences and schools are ready for battle to defend, protect or expand their brands. That too is tied to money, but entrenched positions are also driven by pride.

Shaping the debate is a jealousy factor. The Pac 12, to the greatest extent, but also three Power Fives, are jealous of the SEC. More accurately, they are a lot jealous and a little scared of the SEC’s power. Those feelings are not new, but the moves by Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC were like a lightning strike in a parched forest.

What will happen?

No one can know for sure. Credit the SEC’s Greg Sankey, who as reported by Dellenger and SI, said,

"If [the 12-team model] is rejected, we’ll have to think about process and if there’s a need for a new format. But keep in mind, we can keep the four best teams. As I’ve said repeatedly, consistently, vocally, four has worked just as it was intended, it is working and it can continue to work."

Sankey has provided leadership on this issue for more than a year. He is not hesitant to share his perspectives.

"I thought these things would be talked about in the room, but people have chosen to state their positions publicly. If everybody has to get everything on their Christmas list, we probably won’t come to a decision. It won’t be a happy Christmas morning."

Next. Playoff Expansion a Mistake. dark

All of the above and more will be discussed on Sept. 22 when the CFP Management Committee meets and possibly on Sept. 28 with the CFP Board of Managers.