Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss how conference realignment, the alliance between the ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten, and the broadcast rights battle between ESPN and Fox will affect the future of the College Football Playoff.
DAN WETZEL: The playoff. The disappointment here I think for almost everybody is there could have been a playoff in two seasons and now it might be five. Or do you think the SEC and ESPN will back down and allow it go to open bid, particularly ESPN. I don't know that the SEC cares if it goes to open bid. Other than that, it looks to me like the main goal is basically we have to get Fox in on this playoff deal. And we're willing to make a lot of noise and puff out our chests that we're going to hold up this playoff so that even if we have to wait five years, we have these nebulous differences on the margins.
They're not big differences. The Big Ten, particularly, Pac-12 to a lesser degree, or also, I guess, they need Fox to make a lot of money in college sports so they can continue to pay them a lot of money. Could you get ESPN to back off their exclusive window? And could we still get a playoff in two years? What do you think, Pete?
PETE THAMEL: The immediate future of the playoff is going to come down to the willingness and negotiating-- the willingness of ESPN and the negotiating power of the CFP to get ESPN to share the postseason in format in some way, shape, or form. The power of this playoff is going to come once the games start because we're not going to sit around and talk about conference commissioners anymore. We're not going to sit around and talk about TV contracts much anymore. We're going to start talking about games. Like, the attention of 90% of college football fans now shifts to college football.
The beauty of what happened from the terms of the playoff authors is that they just drop this little 12 team nugget. Everybody threw a party for themselves for a week after it got dropped. And the inherent pressure of, middle of October, what are we going to sit around talking about? Oh, how cool would it be if Louisiana got in the playoff. How great would it be if Coastal was going to go to Georgia? The power of possibility is going to be the greatest ally of the playoffs starting early.
PAT FORDE: You know, I am a bit intrigued by the ACC's kind of delicate balancing act here. We are still partners with ESPN forever. But we are coming out in favor of diverse platform, multi-platforms for the playoff, and checking the SEC here. And I think, first of all, they feel like that's in their best interest because it might help protect Clemson and Florida State, or anybody else that may get the wandering eye from their league. But also, I wonder if they're just looking to ESPN saying, what are you going to do? Get mad at us and give us a worse deal? No. The deal already sucks. So I don't think they're necessarily that worried about relations with ESPN at this point.
DAN WETZEL: No. It's going to be very interesting how they proceed. But I think that they will find common ground on the playoff. And I think the SEC would like to move forward on the playoff. I'm hopeful they can still do it because it'd be a tremendous disappointment, I think, if we have to go five more years of this all because a bunch of guys are having a petty fight.