Faculty Soccer Playoff Growth Difficult by Rose Bowl

HOOVER, Ala. – In a ballroom on the second floor here at the Hyatt Regency, Greg Sankey opened the SEC’s media days by addressing the many elephants in the room.

There was talk of vaccinations and the new COVID-19 variant. There was talk of NCAA change and name, image and similarity. There was talk of the Supreme Court, Congress and the enforcement of violations.

The SEC commissioner touched on every major topic in college athletics today – with the exception of the upcoming expansion of the college football playoffs.

But outside of here, in every college town across America, in sports departments, presidential offices, and boardrooms, the CFP expansion is a hot topic of discussion.

A month after completing the three-month nationwide survey to get feedback on the proposed 12-team model, a variety of issues emerged.

Does the proposal add too many games? Should the quarter-finals be held on campus rather than bowling? And what cut in CFP revenue will athletes in this world of the NIL get?

For some of the top decision makers in sport, however, a different question arises.

What if the Rose Bowl refuses to move the date and time?

Two months ahead of the planned approval of the new playoff model of college football, a company could be a significant hurdle in the process of reaching an agreement.

Many college sports leaders don’t expect the Rose Bowl, rooted in tradition and historically protected by its longstanding relationships with the Pac-12 and Big Ten, to move its time-honored kick off time and afternoon date to January 1. The possibility loops over the expansion discussion like an ominous cloud.

The decision would pose problems for the planning model that CFP decision-makers outlined last month, in which six bowls – presumably the current New Year’s Six – alternate between the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. In fact, some believe that the position of the game could completely destroy the expansion proposal if the Rose Bowl league partners are behind it.

“That is the big issue,” says a top decision-maker.

Several college football officials spoke to Sports Illustrated for the story on condition of anonymity. Many senior CFP executives declined to comment when reached.

Called stubborn by some and traditionalists by other, the Rose Bowl position has long been expected, previously described by some as “the biggest hook” in the playoff expansion before the current CFP contract expires after the 2025 season.

The “grandfather of all” as the sport’s oldest operating bowl game, The Rose has been played annually since 1916, a 105-year-old run that has allowed it to house the elite of college football over the years Event.

The game is somewhat tied to the Rose Bowl Parade, and the kick-off is set on purpose each year – 2:00 p.m. Pasadena local time – to set the sun in the San Gabriel Mountains in the fourth quarter in a scene many believe they are the most picturesque in sports.

However, times are changing.

In the 12-team playoff model proposed by CFP executives, the six participating bowls would alternately host the quarter-finals, scheduled for New Year’s Day, and the semi-finals, scheduled for later in January.

If the Rose Bowl lacks flexibility, the CFP faces a troubling dilemma: 1) Make concessions to keep the Rose Bowl on its date and time; or 2) continue without the Rose Bowl.

Option # 1 will likely only be achieved by having the Rose act as the permanent quarter-final host – a real option according to industry sources. And what about option 2 of advancing the expansion model without one of the most prominent and historic affairs in football?

View of the mountains in the background of the Rose Bowl

It is also a real possibility, apparently. Under CFP’s leadership, there is a growing feeling that the Rose Bowl must play ball like everyone else.

“The general opinion is that enough is enough,” says a senior source. “There will be a lot of drama, but will those two conferences get out of the playoffs at the end of the day to protect the Rose Bowl?”

The answer is unclear. Pac-12 and Big Ten officials declined to comment on the situation when it was hit this week. The leagues could to a certain extent protect the Rose Bowl in the voting process. The board of directors of the CFP, consisting of 11 university presidents and chancellors from each FBS conference, must unanimously agree to the model.

The Pac-12 and its new commissioner, George Kliavkoff, supported the expansion as publicly as any other league. In seven years the conference has qualified two teams for the playoffs. The SEC and ACC each qualified eight and the Big Ten qualified five.

The date and time aren’t the only sticking point with the rose. The game has a lucrative contract with Pac-12 and Big Ten, which is integrated into the playoff, but is separate. This is another potential hurdle to address during negotiations – whenever they begin.

Bill Hancock, executive director of CFP, told Sports Illustrated on Sunday that his organization had not entered formal talks with the Bowls, including the Rose.

“When the time to talk, we’ll talk. That time has not yet come, ”he says.

It’s early in the process. While the Rose was discussing the issue internally, the bowl officials didn’t meet at the proverbial table, says a bowl official who represents the game’s interests.

“We always found a way to do this,” the source told SI. “The Rose Bowl has made sacrifices in the past. I would put their balance sheet for flexibility against that of others. The day and time are important. How important? I dont know. I would guess that there is a 12-team model that represents all interests. “

It is a long way. One officer describes the upcoming negotiation process as a six month ordeal rather than a six week ordeal.

In a statement to SI, Rose Bowl said the CFP working group’s proposal was the first of many in a possible expansion.

“The Rose Bowl Game is an important part of college football history, and we will continue to work closely with the College Football Playoff to determine how the Rose Bowl tradition will be part of the evolving playoff system. “Statement said.

The Rose Bowl isn’t the only branch on the wheel of playoff transition. If all companies agree to prematurely terminate the CFP contract, it means you are not going to market with one of the more lucrative offers in college football history.

There are other bowls to be used in discussions as well. And there is the case of the quarterfinal games on bowl sites rather than on campus as in the four first round games.

There are also more contentious issues. In fact, during the Big 12 media days last week, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told SI that one of the bigger questions at stake is whether the 12-team model should add more bowl games to its structure. Perhaps instead of having round one games on campus, they should be played on bowl sites.

“We talked a lot about it. I don’t know how long we’re going to discuss this, but that’s certainly an option that could be implemented, ”says Bowlsby. “Instead of the bowls that are played on December 25th, we can play on December 16th and play it on bowl sites.

“I like the idea of ​​playing on campus, but the fact is, if you’re going to be playing in Iowa City, Iowa on December 16 … the year. This is the case for most of the northern half of the country. There are purely logistical aspects. “

On Monday, Sankey said he did not know the situation with the Rose Bowl from the SEC media days, but said to SI: “We can stay at four.” In an interview with a reporter last week, Bowlsby was asked what would happen if the rose didn’t want to move the date and time.

“I’m not ready to comment at this point,” he replied.

And so, life in college football marches on two months before the board of directors meets in Dallas to possibly approve the proposal, and questions about the Rose Bowl remain somewhat unanswered.

“I’ve heard all of this before,” says a Bowl official, “but I’ve always seen it work.”

More college football coverage:

• The SEC, NCAA, and a struggle to transform college sports
• ‘It’s All Surreal:’ D’Eriq King starts the NIL era with a big payday
• Congress calls on the NCAA to provide information on gender inequalities
• Big 12 sends a clear message to the athletes: “Get vaccinated”

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