The only reviews of the College Football Playoff that matter are in. And after one year and a whole lot of excitement and unpredictability, don’t expect to see any changes coming soon.
That’s a good thing for Notre Dame.
And with athletic director Jack Swarbrick holding a seat at the table among the NCAA conference commissioners that orchestrated the first playoff, there’s a belief among the actual decision makers that the status quo is more than good enough.
Speaking with ESPN’s Heather Dinich, it appears the lessons learned from the near-annual tweaking of the BCS are a big reason why things are staying put.
“I think we made several mistakes with the BCS, and one of them was that, for a while, we were continually changing certain aspects of it,” ACC commissioner John Swofford told ESPN.
So for all the concerns that TCU and Baylor’s exclusion would have, Year 2 will stay four teams and the same process for the selection committee, and it’s looking like any major tweaks aren’t coming any time soon.
For a Notre Dame team that still plans on scheduling difficult games, that means they’ll still face the challenge of not playing for a conference championship. But they won’t see any radical alterations with automatic berths or tweaked formulas.
We might even get rid of the ridiculous weekly rankings that served as a mostly as debate fodder.
“That’s really the only change I would hope we have a conversation about in April,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told ESPN. “We don’t need seven. I know ESPN likes seven. It’s great ratings, but there’s other ways you get around it. It’s good information because all week you can argue back and forth … so it’s all good for the sport. But they don’t mean anything, quite honestly.”
Ohio State’s victory—beating Alabama and Oregon after leapfrogging TCU and Baylor for the fourth seed—likely kept any major changes from even being considered. But even if Year One drew the ire of the majority (it didn’t) for very good reasons, forcing the teams competing to change (goodbye Cupcakes) rather than simply tweaking the rules makes a ton of sense.
Sure, logistical moves are needed. Helping families attend games and not feel the wrath of last-minute travel and hotel rates is a no-brainer. But while switching to eight or 16 teams has been discussed more than a few times, the Pac-12’s Larry Scott was more than candid about the final decision on four.
“We spent a lot of time thinking about it. We looked at other models with more teams,” Scott told ESPN. “First and foremost, I think we don’t want to go further, in terms of the number of games the student-athletes are playing. We want to preserve the importance of bowls that are not in the playoff. We want to keep the importance of the regular season and the drama involved, and we want to keep college football a one-semester sport and not go further into January. For me, those are the four primary reasons we think four is the right number.”
After a few rocky years, annual realignment worries had some Irish fans wondering if Notre Dame was destined for a forced marriage as a full-time member of a conference. But while the Big 12 will likely try to add a conference title game and other moves are likely on the horizon, it appears the largest variable in the equation isn’t changing.
And that’s a very good thing for Notre Dame.