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Plus, chances that an outlier like Boise State, or a team from the Mid-American or Sun Belt conferences, would get a title shot, or even a slot in one of other payday games, aren’t much better than they were under the previous system. Even if the hush money they’ll receive to forget about anti-trust challenges might make it a little easier to take.
There’s also the matter of choosing a selection committee to decide which teams wind up in the playoffs. The same cabal will have a disproportionate say in that matter, too. So far, they’ve hinted at something modeled after the committee that picks the teams for the NCAA basketball tournament _ made up of conference commissioners and athletic directors _ but with far less transparency.
That much should have been apparent when Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said one aim of the redesign was to come up with something “more like the Masters than NASCAR.” While most of us thought that reflected a desire to distance corporate sponsorship from the new name, what the good-old boy network probably had in mind was a dozen or so guys in blazers deciding things pretty much as they pleased.
Speaking of misdirection, there’s already a website up and running, http://www.collegefootballplayoff.com, encouraging visitors to cast their votes on a new logo. Above the four choices is the slogan, “It’s Your Playoff. It’s Your Choice.” Of course, if there was really any truth in advertising, that slogan would have included a third sentence: “But it’s still our money.”
The odd thing is that the really good news for fans of the game came in a much-less publicized move Tuesday at the same Pasadena, Calif., hotel. It was an announcement by ACC commissioner John Swofford that league members had agreed to sign over their TV rights to the conference through 2027, effectively shutting off any more realignment of conferences for the foreseeable future. Three of the five other major players _ the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 _ already have similar agreements in place, and while the SEC hasn’t asked its schools to do the same, the league is so rich that chances any member would bolt are about the same as Alabama coach Nick Saban taking a day off from work.
If nothing else, that signals the almost-certain end of a chaotic era. The big-name schools and conferences won’t be playing musical chairs, or shuffling rivalries like Michigan-Ohio State all over the schedule to squeeze out a few extra bucks. There’s already a name for that, and it won’t require marketing consultants to find it. It’s called a truce, and even more than a playoff, it means the game will be healthy once again _ or at least until the next cash grab comes along.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at twitter.com/JimLitke
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