Campus Corner

Texas A.D.: 4-team football playoff is good `baby step'

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds believes the new College Football Playoff could use one more round.

A longtime playoff proponent, Dodds calls the new four-team system that will begin with the 2014 season a good “baby step.” His preference would be eight teams.

“I think there will be a lot of conversation about the fifth team that didn't get in, or the 11-1 team that didn't get in because somebody's 12-0 that maybe wasn't quite as good as the 11-1 team,” Dodds said Thursday at the Big 12 meetings. “If you take eight, then you don't really have that. The ninth team has got a concern but it's not really like the fifth team.”

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said he has wanted to look back over the last 10 years at what teams qualified for the BCS games, and how big of a gap there was between the fourth and fifth teams, and then between other teams through the top nine.

“Let's give four a shot and see,” Luck said. “A lot of years, there seems like there's three or four really good teams, then there's a little bit of a dropoff, but I'm not sure I'd advocate eight at this point.”

Big 12 athletic directors wrapped up their portion of the league meetings Thursday, which included a 45-minute session with NCAA President Mark Emmert addressing the executive council that includes the ADs, presidents and faculty representatives from the 10 conference schools.

Luck and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby expressed concerns about how four extra playoff games would affect the current bowl system.

Bowlsby said one of the reasons the playoff system was eventually approved was because people who had been opposed to the idea “got comfortable around the fact that it could be accomplished without decimating the bowl environment that has been so good to us over the years.”

Conference commissioners are still working on the structure of the committee that will select the teams for the new postseason system. Commissioners won't be on that panel, for likely terms of two to four years, but athletic directors might be eligible for consideration.

Neither Dodds nor Luck want to part of that committee.

“There are a lot of good people out there that can do it,” Dodds said.

Luck once asked Bowlsby in a Big 12 meeting how long the playoff selection committee members would be appointed. The commissioner jokingly responded, “Until they're shot.”

Emmert said he and his staff are trying to attend as many of the 31 Division I conference meetings as possible, and to hear about concerns and about what's working or not.

Dodds said athletic directors need to be involved more in the NCAA governance structure.

“The people making decisions need an athletic director filter,” said Dodds, the Texas AD since 1981. “Very few ADs are involved any more. We used to be involved when it was one institution, one vote. Commissioners took it over, presidents took it over. Nobody has done better than the last. ADs are on the ground and they need to be somewhere in the mix. In my mind, just put them as a filter for what gets to the presidents.”

Along with ongoing efforts to simplify the NCAA rule book, including some changes that have already been approved and others now on hold, Emmert said there have been the beginnings of a conversation about Division I governance.

Emmert said among the biggest concerns he hears are the growing economic disparity among Division I and if all the schools can find enough common interests to be able to make decisions effectively.

“We have a structure that's managing thousands of schools that are not like each other. In my mind, they need to federate some way so that people with common programs vote on that common issues and hopefully that happens down the road,” Dodds said. “The NCAA can be fixed.”

Bowlsby said Emmert knows there is apprehension and encouraged Big 12 members to be engaged in trying to help solve problems.

“We had a thorough vetting of some of the things that are out there,” Bowlsby said. “The issues of federation by sport or federation by division, and there was a lot of talk about five leagues that have the wherewithal to create separation between themselves and the rest of college athletics.”

Dodds said he isn't worried about any schools breaking away from the NCAA. Bowlsby added that there isn't much talk about major programs and conferences like the Big 12 “taking their ball and pursuing some other option.”