An interesting turn has taken place in CFB Playoff expansion conversations. Much to my surprise, what was stated on Friday was both refreshing and thoughtful. ACC Commissioner, Jim Phillips boldly stated another task is more pressing. Phillips believes a sense of urgency should be applied not to expand the CFB Playoff format, but instead to “reinvent the NCAA.”
He is not wrong. A few days ago, I shared an opinion conference commissioners would not be able to expand the Playoffs due to entrenched competing interests. My conclusion was the school presidents would have to do it. After reading what Jim Phillips thinks, I think the presidents might agree with him.
Before I explain, a short backtrack is in order. Phillips is the newest of the Power Five Commissioners. Before Friday, his public statements about Playoff expansion got little notice. He seemed to be more focused on peripheral issues rather than the core need for an expanded field.
It now appears not all of those ‘other’ issues are peripheral at all. Taking to the media on Friday, Phillips said,
"We don’t know what the new (NCAA) governance structure is going to be. We don’t know what Division I is going to look like. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the different subdivisions within the three, and so how can we put together the CFP expansion, when we have no idea where this transformation committee is going to take us? So that’s part of this instability, that we feel like this is not the right time for expansion."
Phillips said he has had more than 30 meetings with “league presidents, athletic directors, football coaches and administrators.” According to Phillips, those he met with all agree, there needs to be a “365-day review of college football.”
No matter how on track Phillips is, a huge question needs an answer. The ineptitude of the NCAA suggests it is incapable of competently conducting such a large-scale review in a timely manner. So who does it? The last thing college football needs is a commission wasting time as did the Condoleeza Rice-led effort to repair college basketball. College basketball is as broken now as it has been for decades.
I have questions, but not answers. A hunch is the CFB Playoff expansion stalemate will accelerate the split of the FBS, into a smaller, powerful, super-division that will set its own rules and govern itself. That will also not get done in one year, but until the task begins in earnest, other efforts to reinvent the NCAA will not much matter.
Jim Phillips is right about needing to look at the big picture first. If only there was a viable mechanism to do it.
I suggest reading the entire ESPN article linked above. It and other recent reports go into more detail and provide important background.