HOOVER, Ala. — In a second-floor ballroom right here contained in the Hyatt Regency, Greg Sankey opened SEC media days by addressing the numerous elephants within the room.
There was speak of vaccination and the brand new COVID-19 variant. There was speak of NCAA change and identify, picture and likeness. There was speak of the Supreme Courtroom, Congress and enforcement of infractions.
The SEC commissioner touched on each main matter in faculty athletics at present— besides the approaching enlargement of the Faculty Soccer Playoff.
However exterior of right here, in every faculty city throughout America, inside athletic departments, presidents’ places of work and board assembly rooms, CFP enlargement is a raging matter of debate.
One month into the three-month nationwide survey searching for suggestions on the proposed 12-team mannequin, a bevy of points are arising.
Does the proposal add too many video games? Ought to the quarterfinals be performed on campus as an alternative of bowl websites? And, on this world of NIL, what reduce of CFP income will athletes get?
Nonetheless, amongst a number of the prime decision-makers within the sport, one other query exists.
What if the Rose Bowl refuses to maneuver its date and time?
Two months earlier than faculty soccer’s new playoff mannequin is scheduled for potential approval, one entity might current a major roadblock within the path to an settlement.
Many faculty athletic leaders don’t count on the Rose Bowl, entrenched in its custom and traditionally protected by its longtime relationships with the Pac-12 and Massive Ten, to maneuver its time-honored kickoff time and date of mid-afternoon on Jan. 1. Like an ominous cloud, the chance lurches over the enlargement dialogue.
The choice would current issues to the scheduling mannequin that CFP decision-makers outlined final month, by which six bowls—presumably the present New Yr’s Six—can be in a rotation to host the quarterfinals and semifinals. The truth is, if the Rose Bowl’s league companions stand behind it, some consider the sport’s place might utterly crater the enlargement proposal.
“It’s the large subject,” says a prime decision-maker.
A number of faculty soccer officers spoke to Sports activities Illustrated for this story on situation of anonymity. Many high-ranking CFP executives declined remark when reached.
Labeled cussed by some and traditionalists by others, the Rose Bowl’s place has lengthy been anticipated, beforehand described by some as “the most important hangup” in increasing the playoff earlier than the present CFP contract expires after the 2025 season.
The Rose, coined the “Granddaddy of Them All” as the game’s oldest working bowl sport, has been performed yearly since 1916, a 105-year-old run that, by the years, has afforded it the lodging of school soccer’s most elite occasion.
The sport is considerably wedded to the Rose Bowl Parade, and kickoff every year is purposely timed—2 p.m. native time in Pasadena—to have the solar set, within the fourth quarter, on the San Gabriel Mountains in a scene that many consider is essentially the most picturesque within the sport.
Instances, nevertheless, are altering.
Within the 12-team playoff mannequin proposed by CFP executives, the six taking part bowls would rotate internet hosting quarterfinals, scheduled for New Yr’s Day, and semifinals, scheduled for later in January.
If there isn’t a flexibility from the Rose Bowl, the CFP is left with a stirring dilemma: 1) make concessions to maintain the Rose Bowl at its date and time; or 2) transfer on with out the Rose Bowl.
Possibility No. 1 is probably going solely achieved by having the Rose function a everlasting quarterfinal host—an actual possibility, in accordance with business sources. And what of Possibility 2, advancing the enlargement mannequin with out probably the most outstanding and historic affairs in soccer?
It’s, apparently, an actual risk too. There’s a rising feeling amongst CFP management that the Rose Bowl should play ball like everybody else.
“The final sentiment is that sufficient is sufficient,” says one high-placed supply. “There can be loads of drama, however on the finish of the day, are these two conferences going to stroll away from the playoff to guard the Rose Bowl?”
The reply is unclear. Officers from each the Pac-12 and Massive Ten declined to touch upon the scenario when reached this week. The leagues might, in a approach, defend the Rose Bowl within the voting course of. The CFP Board of Managers, made up of 11 college presidents and chancellors from every FBS convention, should unanimously comply with approve the mannequin.
The Pac-12 and its new commissioner, George Kliavkoff, have publicly supported enlargement as a lot as every other league. In seven years, the convention has certified two groups for the playoff. The SEC and ACC have every certified eight and the Massive Ten has certified 5.
The date and the time isn’t the one sticky level with the Rose. The sport owns a profitable contract with each the Pac-12 and Massive Ten that, whereas built-in into the playoff, is separate. It’s one other potential hurdle to deal with throughout negotiations— each time they start.
CFP govt director Invoice Hancock informed Sports activities Illustrated on Sunday that his group has not began formal discussions with the bowls, together with the Rose.
“When the time comes to speak, we’ll be speaking. That point hasn’t come,” he says.
It’s early within the course of. Whereas the Rose has mentioned the subject internally, bowl officers haven’t met across the proverbial desk, says a bowl official who represents the sport’s pursuits.
“We’ve at all times discovered a approach to do that,” the supply tells SI. “The Rose Bowl has made sacrifices previously. I’d put their document for flexibility towards anyone’s. The day and the time are essential. How essential? I don’t know. I’d presume there’s a 12-team mannequin that represents all pursuits.”
There’s a protracted solution to go. One official describes the approaching negotiating course of as extra of a six-month ordeal fairly than a six-week ordeal.
In an announcement to SI, the Rose Bowl stated the CFP working group’s proposal was step one of many in a doable enlargement.
“The Rose Bowl Recreation is a crucial a part of the historical past of school soccer, and we’ll proceed to work intently with the Faculty Soccer Playoff to find out how the custom of the Rose Bowl Recreation can be part of the evolving playoff system,” the assertion stated.
The Rose Bowl isn’t the one twig within the wheel of playoff change. If all entities agree to interrupt the CFP contract early, meaning not going to market with one of many extra profitable choices in faculty soccer historical past.
There are different bowls concerned in discussions as effectively. And there’s the case of the quarterfinals at bowl websites as an alternative of on campus just like the 4 first-round video games.
There are extra controversial points, too. The truth is, throughout Massive 12 media days final week, commissioner Bob Bowlsby informed SI that one of many greater questions up for debate is whether or not the 12-team mannequin ought to incorporate extra bowl video games in its construction. As an alternative of getting first-round video games on campus, perhaps they need to be performed at bowl websites.
“We talked so much about that. I don’t understand how rather more we’ll talk about it, however that’s definitely an possibility that might be applied,” Bowlsby says. “As an alternative of the bowls enjoying Dec. 25 week, we are able to play Dec. 16 and play it at bowl websites.
“I like the thought of enjoying on campuses, however the reality is, when you’re going to play on Dec. 16 in Iowa Metropolis, Iowa…. that stadium just isn’t winterized for that form of an occasion at the moment of the 12 months. It’s that approach for a lot of the northern half of the nation. There are purely logistical points.”
On Monday, from SEC media days, Sankey stated he didn’t know the scenario with the Rose Bowl however informed SI, “We will keep at 4.” In an interview with a reporter final week, Bowlsby was requested what would occur if the Rose doesn’t need to transfer its date and time.
“I’m not ready to touch upon that at this level,” he answered.
And so, two months earlier than the Board of Managers meets in Dallas to probably approve the proposal, life in faculty soccer marches on and questions in regards to the Rose Bowl stay considerably unanswered.
“I’ve heard all this earlier than,” says one bowl official, “however I’ve at all times seen it work out.”
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