Richt Just Fine With Playoff

By Adam Caparell - January 09, 2008

Georgia president Michael Adams, and chairman of the NCAA executive committee, has been outspoken this week about the need for a playoff in college football. In Adams' eyes, the NCAA should create an eight team playoff, seed the teams into four bowl games and eventually crown its first football champion in the organization's history. And as he goes about trumping for big change, he's picked up one prominent supporter in Athens.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that he'd be in favor of a playoff and that he believes many of his fellow coaches would be as well.

"I think most coaches would be in favor of that," Richt said. "I think personally eight is the limit. I don't think anybody wants to diminish the regular season. I don't think an eight team playoff would do that. I think if you go to 16 teams you probably devalue some of the regular season games. I really believe that."

The only problem, of course, is the chances of college football seeing a playoff in the next decade border on slim to none. With the Big Ten and Pac-10 standing firmly against any change to the current BCS/bowl system, a drastic overhaul of the postseason looks to still be nothing but a pipe dream, despite increasing support for a change.

"We just have never seen a plus-1 plan that addresses the Rose Bowl and its relationship to the Big Ten and Pac-10 in a way that would be acceptable to us," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney told XM Radio. "So we've been having a relationship with the BCS for a decade and we have a 60-year relationship with the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl relationship, to be honest with you, is the most important one we have - although we appreciate the BCS, we support the BCS. We've never seen a four team playoff stay as a four team playoff. So if you are concerned, and we are, about an eight team, 12 team, or 16 team playoff and what it would do to college football, we don't believe that you allow the camel's nose under the tent with a four-team playoff."

Richt, just like Adams, knows it's going to be an uphill battle to get everyone in the game to come to a consensus on a change. The Big Ten and Pac-10 - because of their loyalty to the Rose Bowl - aren't going to change their stance anytime soon. The two conferences don't want to lose their traditional New Year's Day bowl matchup and any playoff format would likely put an end to the tradition.

"There are some players in the game we have to agree and that's the problem," Richt said. "You have a lot of different conferences, lot of different commissioners and presidents across the country and there's some people at both ends of the spectrum."

The first step toward a playoff format would be the implementation of a plus-1 format which would take the top four teams in the BCS presumably, seed them, and have the two winners meet for the national title. The ACC, Big East, Big 12 and SEC are apparently open to the change. But despite the growing support for the plus-1, a change wouldn't come until 2010 at the earliest, the first year of the new BCS television contract.

"I don't know what's going to happen here," Richt said. "To me, (the plus-1 is) a step in the right direction. I am in favor of it. Again, I've always wanted to protect the bowl system and protect our regular season, but if you could have a playoff that has a small enough number of teams I think you could keep your bowl system, keep your regular season and still come a little bit closer to a true national champion."

Richt, like many involved in the game, remains optimistic that a change will happen. Baring the unforeseen, it won't happen for a few more seasons, but there's a sense something's going to happen down the road.

"I could see change on the horizon. I really believe there is," Richt said.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 09:44 AM on January 09, 2008

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