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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

College football playoff may be closer than people think

December 6, 2011
KEYWORDS Sports Business

I woke up this morning wondering if I attended the same meeting with NCAA President Mark Emmert on Monday at the Hall of Champions as other local media outlets.

At least two reported that Emmert said an NCAA football playoff is deader than Oklahoma State’s national championship hopes.

That’s not what I heard. Still, I turned on my tape recorder to re-acquaint myself with Emmert’s take from Monday’s meet-and-greet with Indianapolis media.

“The fact that LSU and Alabama are playing again just adds fuel to a fire that has been smoldering a long time,” Emmert said. “The debate will be fast and furious between now and the BCS [championship] game.”

Emmert pointed out that the Bowl Championship Series current TV contract expires in 2013.

“I think it’s perfectly conceivable there will be interest in changing that model in some way, whether they move to the so-called plus one model or other things that have been out there and under discussion,” Emmert said.

“After this season will be the beginning of a great debate about what that model should look like. [The model] has changed a couple of times already in its short history, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it changed again. What that looks like is premature to speculate. I suspect there will changes in the format. If for no other reason because we’ve seen a lot of conference realignment and that’s caused the whole question of automatic qualifiers to be questioned and that will lead to some good debate as well,” Emmert added.

Well, that doesn’t sound like dismissing the idea. But Emmert went on.

“I expect lots of debate and discussion and probably some modification to the current format, but does that move to a playoff per se, we’ll have to wait and see,” Emmert concluded.

To be fair, Emmert brought up some of what he considers serious challenges to moving to a college football playoff, including increasing the length of the season and what impact that could have to players’ physical health and their academic pursuits.

“Total number of games is a huge issue and the impact on calendar is a great big issue as well,” Emmert said.

The final call on format changes will likely be made by the schools and conferences which created the BCS. But I would expect Emmert, as the NCAA's boss and a former university president, will have some input.

Does Emmert have concerns about the idea of a playoff? Yes.

Did he outright or even remotely dismiss the idea? Not hardly.

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