ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The first College Football Playoff was a success on almost every level — except maybe for fans of TCU and Baylor.
Otherwise, there was not much to gripe about. And Ohio State walking away with the first championship by beating Oregon 42-20 on Monday night after getting the fourth spot ahead of TCU and Baylor certainly helped justify the selection committee’s choice.
Now that it’s over, let’s look ahead and examine where the College Football Playoff goes from here.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
If you thought New Year’s Day was just perfect, spending your lazy day off watching football, with a semifinal doubleheader kicking off around 5 p.m. ET, we’ve got some bad news for you.
The semifinals next season will be played on New Year’s Eve at the Orange Bowl in Miami and at the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium.
“We really do think we’re going to change the paradigm of New Year’s Eve,” College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said.
The Rose Bowl goes back to being Big Ten vs. Pac-12 and the Sugar Bowl will now have a similar setup with the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 in a matchup. But those two bowls keep those premium time slots, back-to-back on New Year’s Day.
“Traditions were existing when we started the playoff,” Hancock said. “And one of those is the Rose Bowl. And SEC and the Big 12 grabbed that night spot in New Year’s Day. It’ll be a great thing for them.”
Maybe not for fans, though.
The 13-member selection committee, which turned into a 12-member selection committee, needs to find at least one new member.
After Oliver Luck resigned as athletic director at West Virginia, the committee needs another representative from the Big 12 conference.
Baylor coach Art Briles, who complained about not having enough Texas representation on the panel, might not like it, but don’t be surprised if Kansas State’s John Currie or Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione ended up taking Luck’s spot.
Former Mississippi quarterback Archie Manning had to withdraw from the committee during the season because of health issues and it’s still very much up in the air if he will be back.
Hard to say who would replace Manning. It likely would be someone with ties to SEC country, but the conference commissioners who ultimately choose the committee members might want to look for someone who could lower the average age of the panel. None of the members were below 50.
There are a couple of things that will be up for discussion when the committee and commissioners start talking about whether changes need to be made to the rankings process:
— Do the committee members need to meet in person every week to do the rankings?
— Should the rankings continue to be weekly? If ESPN has a say (and it does) the answer will be yes.
— Could the rankings start later in the season?
Ohio State’s championship, along with some other Big Ten bowl wins and a handful of high-profile SEC losses, could reset a narrative that many outside the Deep South had grown tired of during the BCS era.
After seven straight BCS titles by the SEC, it has now been shut out of the last two national championships.
No need to panic, SEC fans. The league is still loaded, but offense rules the day in college football and a conference with sketchy quarterback play throughout can’t call itself the undisputed No. 1 in the land.
Meanwhile, things are looking up for the Big Ten.
“It was a good bowl season,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said after the national championship game . “We had several chances to play great teams. Ohio State just got better and better. Michigan State had a good season.”
Ohio State is built to last under Urban Meyer. Michigan State isn’t going anywhere under Mark Dantonio. Penn State is racking up in recruiting with coach James Franklin. And then there’s this new guy Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. He’s kind of a big deal.
The playoff is influencing NCAA reform and restructuring because of how much money it is pumping into the top level of college sports — more than $500 million per year just from ESPN television contracts related to big bowl games.
Meyer was among the first to call for the NCAA to find a way to pay for players’ families to attend the extra postseason game the Buckeyes and Ducks had in the playoff. In about a month, the NCAA came up with a pilot program to reimburse players’ parents or guardians up to $3,000 for travel expenses.
Meyer, speaking at a news conference with quarterback Cardale Jones and safety Tyvis Powell, said he’s grateful the discussion is happening.
“It’s not always about corporate America, it’s not always about money, it’s about the guys to my left over here that put on an incredible show.”
Autonomy is coming for the Big Five conferences, and with it more money will be moved toward college athletes. It remains to be seen whether it will be enough considering all the playoff cash that’s coming in.
WHO WILL BE IN?
Pencil in Ohio State as preseason No. 1 in the AP poll. TCU has a load of players back, led by star quarterback Trevone Boykin, so figure the Horned Frogs will be second. After that the preseason playoff hopefuls look like a lot of usual suspects.
— SEC: Auburn, Alabama and Georgia.
— Big Ten: Michigan State should push Ohio State again.
— Big 12: Baylor.
— Pac-12: Stanford, Southern California, Arizona and Arizona State.
— ACC: Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson.
OUR (WAY TOO EARLY) PLAYOFF PICKS:
Ohio State, TCU, Georgia and Clemson.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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