New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will never be quite the same for college football fans.
Beginning January 2014, the NCAA College Football Playoff takes center stage under a 12-year TV contract with ESPN.
Executive Director Bill Hancock was in town last Wednesday at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel to discuss the upcoming playoff he bills as the next Super Bowl.
Football is not Hancock’s only expertise. The man is a sports genius.
Think March Madness. Yep, he coined the phrase and devised the concept of the NCAA Tournament in March.
The College Football Playoff will consist of the four best teams – period.
There are no automatic bids, Hancock said. A selection committee comprised of Tyrone Willingham, Pat Haden, Archie Manning, Tom Osborne and others will choose the four teams.
The committee will consider strength of schedule, head-to-head results, championships won and other criteria.
That means the days of majors playing lower division schools may soon be a thing of the past. Big teams will be picking opponents carefully.
Will the Duke and N.C. Central series continue?.
Although FCS teams are at a decided disadvantage, the payout of mismatches like Duke-NCCU are profitable. The monies earned have helped fund entire athletic budgets, not just football.
But money is no longer the biggest issue.
“If we have two teams 12-1, we’ll want to know who those 12 wins were against,” Hancock said. “Teams have to schedule better. But I don’t think those types of games (like Duke vs. NCCU) will end.”
N.C. A&T football coach Rod Broadway disagrees. Broadway said the pendulum has already begun to swing in the other direction.
“They are starting it now. The big paydays for going to Ohio State and Clemson, they are coming to an end,” he said Thursday by phone. “It benefits one group and hurts another.”
The NCAA has six primary postseason bowls: Sugar, Rose, Orange, Cotton, Peach and Fiesta.
Three of the bowl games will be played on New Year’s Eve, the other three New Year’s Day. Instead of a regular bowl game, two of the bowls will serve as semifinal matchups on Jan. 1. The semifinal winners will meet Jan. 12 in Dallas for the championship trophy.
The semifinal games will rotate through all the bowls. Next January, it’s the Sugar and Rose bowls; in 2016, Orange and Cotton; and in 2017, it’ll be the Peach and Fiesta. The title game will also change venue each season.
Got all that?
“Our biggest concern is the amount of football played on those two days,” Hancock said at the Business of Sports luncheon sponsored by the Triangle Sports Commission. “How much football can fans enjoy. That’s why we’re keeping ticket prices low, so everybody can attend.”
Of course for some, four teams is not nearly enough. The most common question Hancock is asked is why not a 16-team playoff system?
The answer is easy, he said.
“A 16-game playoff will take away from the bowl experience. I have coaches tell me all the time how much their players look forward to playing in a bowl game – any bowl game. We will not take that away from them.”
The selection committee will meet every week in Dallas beginning Oct. 28 and produce a Top 25 poll. The final rankings will be released Dec. 7.