Road to NCAA football national championship still goes through Alabama

For all the focus on Mississippi in recent weeks, the road to the College Football Playoff still runs through the football fields of neighboring Alabama. When the playoff’s selection committee releases its Top 25 Tuesday, Mississippi State is expected to be the No. 1 seed, just as it is in the polls, and Florida State should follow at No. 2. As currently constructed, though, two SEC powers from Alabama will be there for pursuit of the title in the Final Four. Coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will be lying in wait, ranked No. 3 in the nation, and ready to attack down the stretch. No. 4 Auburn may also claim a berth. The Tide will get a chance to hand Mississippi State its first loss of the season on Nov. 8. That matchup is one of four games over the next month that we see as proving grounds for a championship appearance: Nov. 1: Stanford (5-3) at No. 5 Oregon (7-1): The Ducks dealt Michigan State a 46-27 loss in Eugene, then dipped off the radar when they fell to Arizona. Quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Heisman Trophy hopeful, has kept the offense moving but needs to stave off any upset bid by the Cardinal. Long the nemesis for Oregon, the Cardinal can save its season by tripping up Oregon on the road. If the Pac 12 is going to have any chance of making the playoff, the Ducks need to handle business here. Nov. 8: No. 13 Ohio State (6-1) at No. 8 Michigan State (7-1): The rematch of the 2013 Big 10 title game will be played in East Lansing, and the Spartans will be favored. Ohio State, playing without quarterback Braxton Miller (shoulder), will be looking to play spoiler to Sparty. Coach Urban Meyer collected two BCS titles in the previous era, but is unlikely to compete for the first playoff. Consider Michigan State a legitimate threat to reach the playoff field should coach Mark D’Antonio’s squad level the Buckeyes. Nov. 15: No. 1 Mississippi State (7-0) at No. 3 Alabama (7-1): Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott has been hailed as a Continue Reading

College Football Playoff to help cover travel costs of athlete families

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer stood at the podium during a press conference leading up to his national championship game against Oregon when he learned that the College Football Playoff will provide monetary travel assistance for players families to attend Tuesday. Meyer, an advocate of the move, pumped his fist. "I'm really fired up," he said. "That kind of made my day." The CFP organization announced a pilot program that will "defray the cost of expenses for student-athletes' parents or guardians to travel" to Dallas, and the NCAA approved a waiver. They will provide as much as $2,500 per family for hotel, travel and meal expenses. Ohio State will face Oregon on Monday night at AT&T Stadium. "We know how expensive travel can be, so we're pleased to provide assistance for parents or guardians who want to see their sons play in the first College Football Playoff National Championship," said Bill Hancock, the playoff's executive director, in a released statement. "It will make the game even more special for the student-athletes to know that their family members are receiving this benefit." Earlier Tuesday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith asserted that a plan to assist families "should've been done out of the chute" when the new postseason format was implemented. On Saturday evening, Smith released a statement saying he would introduce NCAA legislation to address the matter. "Gene Smith is a powerful man in the sport, and all due respect to all other ADs, for him to step out on the line like that, that's good," Meyer said. The NCAA also announced that it will pay up to $3,000 total in travel, hotel and meal expenses for family members of each student-athlete who competes in the Final Four semifinal games but don't advance to the championships. The NCAA will pay up to $4,000 in expenses for each of the student-athletes who compete in the men's and women's basketball championship games. The College Football Playoff may provide up to $3,000 Continue Reading

In NCAA football championship game, Oregon Ducks rely on offensive line to open holes for Marcus Mariota

DALLAS — Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood coordinates the running game for Oregon, charged with creating holes for the Ducks’ collection of sprinters and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. He has rotated blockers along the line as his pupils were lost to injury, but knows that he must tighten the seams to the extreme now. Video of Ohio State’s defensive line and linebackers offers clues. “I’ve seen them create a lot of havoc,” Greatwood said. No. 2 Oregon will need protection for Mariota and open space for runners as the Ducks take on the Buckeyes Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship. After 14 games, both teams are 13-1 and neither is fully healthy, but Oregon will enter AT&T Stadium without Darren Carrington, the Ducks’ second-leading receiver, due to a failed drug test. No matter, insist the Ducks. It will be next man up, but Ohio State, fresh off its Sugar Bowl rally to beat top-ranked Alabama, will meet Oregon at the line, ready to engage. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer acknowledged that few secrets survive between the programs. He once visited Oregon during his sabbatical from the sidelines. “We know Oregon,” Meyer said. “I’ll probably be able to call Oregon’s plays because we study them and they study us.” The final examination at the inaugural playoff championship will offer new problems for each program. Ohio State is on its third quarterback — Cardale Jones — after losing Braxton Miller in the preseason and then J.T. Barrett in the regular-season finale. Jones has adjusted well to the spotlight, displaying a strong arm and an ability to take hits with his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame. Ducks coach Mark Helfrich has his own issues. Oregon’s offensive line will use an eight-man rotation. Wideouts will also have to step up to replace Carrington’s production as he collected Continue Reading

Potential problem with College Football Playoffs isn’t committee but system

The 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee were officially announced Wednesday, the most significant news for the sport this week. Next season they will choose the four teams that will compete in the long-overdue tournament to crown a national champion. It created some waves among wrong-headed Neanderthals who questioned the credentials of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and some misguided skeptics who wondered how these 13 would avoid voting their biases. That’s hogwash. Rice has more than enough experience assessing precarious situations and making decisions; and the rest are not only are respected for their integrity but will be certain this highly-scrutinized process is conducted above board. The potential problem here is not going to be the committee. It’s the playoff system itself. The four-team model is a huge improvement over the BCS, but it’s still not enough. To give every legitimate contender a shot at the title and be certain the best team ends up with the crown, the field should have been at least eight teams. The CFP selection committee already is certain to be treated like a piñata. To recreate the tension of the BCS rankings and give as much transparency to its process, they will issue rankings every couple weeks beginning in the middle of October. So there will be at least three times for them to invite outrage about how they’re not calculating strength of schedule right or not weighing some esoteric metric enough. Then they’ll put out their Final Four and the screaming will really start. The NCAA Tournament men’s basketball selection committee gets raked over the coals over the last six-to-eight teams it does not choose and it gets to issue 37 at-large invitations. The FCP picks only four teams, and are not compelled to choose conference champions. Look no further than this season to get an idea of why a four-team model isn’t enough. The Big 12’s Continue Reading

Condoleezza Rice, Tom Osborne and Archie Manning among 13 on College Football Playoff selection committee

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne and Hall of Fame quarterback Archie Manning are among the 13 people who will be part of the College Football Playoff selection committee in 2014. The selection committee was officially unveiled Wednesday, though the names of the members were reported last week by The Associated Press and other media outlets. Earlier this week, Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long was announced as the chairman of the first committee for the new playoff system that replaces the Bowl Championship Series next year. The committee will choose four teams to play in the national semifinals and seed them. The winners of those games will play a week later for the national championship. Long and BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock announced the members at news conference at the College Football Playoff offices in Irving, Texas. The committee is made up of current athletic directors, former players and coaches and college administrators. “Our work will be difficult, but rewarding at the same time,” Long said. “We have important judgments to make during that process. We realize we represent all of college football.” The rest of the members: . Barry Alvarez, athletic director, Wisconsin . Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, former superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy. . Pat Haden, athletic director, Southern California. . Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive vice president. . Oliver Luck, athletic director, West Virginia. . Dan Radakovich, athletic director, Clemson. . Steve Wieberg, former college football reporter, USA Today. . Tyrone Willingham, former head coach of Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington. Rice was a surprising pick because she has never worked in college athletics but is a professor at Stanford and was provost at the school before serving under President George W. Bush as National Security Adviser and Continue Reading

College Football Playoff title games for 2024-25 move up a week

IRVING, Texas — After three years, the College Football Playoff has settled into a comfortable routine that necessitates occasional fine-tuning rather than dramatic change.Among the tweaks coming out of the Playoff’s annual meetings were changes to dates of two future championship games. When the Playoff reversed its initial policy of playing the semifinals on New Year’s Eve — after an acknowledged failure to create a new tradition — it created longer gaps between the semifinals and championship games. The management committee voted to move the championship games after the 2024 and 2025 seasons up one week.In the 2024 season, the semifinals will be played Dec. 28. The championship game, which was to have been played 16 days later, on Jan. 13, 2025, but will instead be played Jan. 6. In the 2025 season, the semifinals are on Dec. 27; the championship game has been moved from Jan. 12 to Jan. 5.“We just think it’s better this way,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said of the scheduling changes. “… Teams don’t go 16 days between games routinely during the season. And while there would be coaches who would welcome the opportunity to let nicks and cuts heal up (between the semifinals and the championship), I think most people would rather go ahead and play it.” MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL There remains one year with a large gap. In the 2019 season, the gap between the semifinals (Dec. 28, 2019) and the championship game in New Orleans (Jan. 13, 2020) will be 16 days. Hancock said the management committee, comprised of 10 FBS conference commissioners of the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, wanted to move the championship game to Jan. 6 but couldn’t because they were unable to change hotel contracts already in place.Other news after four days of meetings:► No changes were made to the protocol used by the selection committee or the scheduling of its Continue Reading

U of L ‘in contention’ for football playoff

Bubble watch, meet Eliminator.NCAA tournament "Bracketology" has a match in the form of an ESPN tool that's judging college football teams weekly based upon one thing: Are they still at all in contention for the new College Football Playoff?Of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, 29 were cut after Week 1 losses. After a Week 2 loss at Illinois, it's "better luck next season" for Western Kentucky and 30 others."In only two games under new coach Jeff Brohm, the Hilltoppers have shown they are going to be a tough out in Conference USA," wrote ESPN's Mark Schlabach.Not quite tough enough to make college football's Final Four, though. Both still without a loss, the University of Kentucky and Indiana University are "on the fence" for the playoff.Schlabach wrote that "the Wildcats look much more competitive than they did last year," and he notes that Indiana is ahead of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State after the Big Ten Conference's horrid weekend.Then there's the University of Louisville — one of just 21 teams listed as "in contention" for the playoff.Schlabach noted the Cardinals "barely broke a sweat" in beating Murray State five days after their victory over Miami, placing them among programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Oregon, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.From the ACC, Florida State and Virginia Tech remain in contention, as does Notre Dame, whom the Cardinals also play this season. MORE UOFL: Petrino happy but not satisfied with 2-0 Cards UP NEXT: Looking ahead to Virginia TIM SULLIVAN: Bonnafon dazzles, but no QB controversy for Cards IN THE C-J• Columnist Adam Himmelsbach's latest "Adam Asks" involves a consummate professional on the other side of the media industry — U of L sports information director Kenny Klein, who has worked for the school since 1983. (• The Litkenhous Ratings, a computerized ranking of every high school football team in the state, didn't select an area team No. 1 or 2 in the first Continue Reading

It’s a load of BCS as Congress makes push for college football playoff system

Ever since President Barack Obama began lobbying for a college football playoff last fall during his campaign, the Bowl Coalition Series has been under fire, most recently from politicians in the House of Representatives and the Senate who think pushing for a playoff will appeal to their constituencies, even though they have no real grasp of how the system works. Friday, it was the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee's turn to beat up on the current postseason setup, which features a championship game between the two top teams in the BCS standings, based on two polls and six computer rankings. Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas and the ranking member of the subcommittee, railed against the system during the hearing on Capitol Hill, suggesting that the BCS should drop the "C" from its name and call it the "BS" because it doesn't represent the true champion. Hethen introduced legislation that would prevent the NCAA from labeling the game a national championship and warned/threatened BCS commissioner John Swofford that "if we don't see some action in the next two months, on a voluntary switch to a playoff system, then you will see this bill move." Shortly thereafter, when Barton offered his personal solution to the problem, we learned why it's a good idea for government to stay out of college sports. "Well, you could have a playoff system of 64 teams and use every bowl that's currently in there," he said. "You could do that." "We'd still be playing," Derrick Fox, the executive director of the Alamo Bowl who was representing the 34 current bowl games, shot back. Just what college football needs: six more games and a schedule that runs deep into the second semester, finishing up right around the Super Bowl. That would do wonders for graduation rates. Try running that plan by the presidents of the 120 universities currently playing Division I football, most of whom are adamant against any kind of playoff and ultimately control Continue Reading

College Football Playoff announces Indianapolis as host site for 2022

Indianapolis will host the 2022 College Football Playoff national championship game, city leaders announced Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.The announcement came less than an hour after CFB Playoff committee's release of future sites for the 2021-24 national title games, naming Lucas Oil Stadium in 2022."I look forward to — again — welcoming the world to Indianapolis in 2022," Mayor Joe Hogsett said from the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.Indianapolis was invited to bid, a contrast to how host cities have historically been awarded, Indiana Sports Corp President Ryan Vaughn said. A typical bid process begins with interested cities responding to a bid release, and could often take a year and a half. "That's, candidly, what we anticipated the CFP would do this time around," Vaughn said. "However, in a very unique and fantastic way, they just called us and said, 'Hey, we're interested in planning this very specifically and we're interested in Indy for 2022 and 2022 only, can you all do it? And, by the way, we'd like to know in five weeks.'"Michael Browning, chairman of Visit Indy and one of the key players in bringing top sporting events to the city for three decades, said the city met the logistical requirements and jumped at the chance to host the game."We gave an unequivocal yes," he said.This will be the first time in the modern history of the sport its national title has been won at a location outside the South or West, and it's expected to generate more than $150 million for the city and draw 100,000 people, Visit Indy Vice President Chris Gahl said. The NCAA Men's Final Four held in Indianapolis in 2015 garnered $70 million and drew 70,000 to 80,000 people to the city.“When we were talking about sites, we kept asking ourselves, ‘Why not a northern-tier city?’” Bill Hancock, the Playoff’s executive director, told USA TODAY Sports. “‘Why does college football always have to have its Continue Reading

College Football Playoff announces sites for 2021-24, including Indianapolis in 2022

College football’s national championship is headed north.Indianapolis is among four cities selected to host the College Football Playoff’s national championship game after the 2020-2023 seasons. In January 2022, when the championship game is played at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, it will be the first time in the modern history of the sport its national title has been won at a location outside the South or West.“When we were talking about sites, we kept asking ourselves, ‘Why not a northern tier city?’ ” Bill Hancock, the Playoff’s executive director, told USA TODAY Sports. “‘Why does college football always have to have its championship in the Sun Belt?’ We’re pleased with our decision to go north.”Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. — site of the Orange Bowl and several Bowl Championship Series national championships — will host the national championship game in January 2021, after the 2020 season. In January 2023, Los Angeles will host at the new stadium that’s currently under construction at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. In January 2024, the game will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston.“We said we were gonna move the championship game around when we started the Playoff,” Hancock said. “We were serious about that and now we’ve done it.” CFP RANKINGS: Notre Dame's resurgence could create chaos MORE: 3 questions raised by initial College Football Playoff rankings MORE: The top 10 college football games in November In its first three seasons of the Playoff, the national title game has been played in Arlington, Texas, Glendale, Ariz., and Tampa. The game will be played in Atlanta this season, and in Santa Clara, Calif., and New Orleans, respectively, the next two seasons.The CFP’s management committee — made up of 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director Continue Reading