When it comes to the future of college football and the ACC's place in it, there are still far more questions than there are answers. I spoke with ACC commissioner John Swofford recently, though, to make sure ACC fans were caught up on the league's position regarding a college football playoff before BCS officials meet this month to determine a format. Hopefully these five questions help you understand the ACC's position in what is sure to be a month filled with politicking and posturing.
What is the ACC’s stance on a selection committee for college football? Is that something you would support?
John Swofford: I don’t know that it’s necessarily our first choice. It’s something that obviously is going to be considered. I think it could possibly have a place in this, particularly if there was specific criteria, such as weighing in a positing way whether a team has won a conference championship or not and the utilization of other tools as a part of the committee deliberations. I think that’s something to be discussed and negotiated in terms of how the teams are picked. Certainly a committee will and should be part of that discussion and consideration.
If you were in charge of it all, and you had your ideal scenario, how would you want this to look?
JS: Where we are is in support of 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3 in terms of format, a four-team, three-game playoff format utilizing the bowls for the semifinals and bidding out the championship game. Our league is not uncomfortable with the current formula, although we would want strength of schedule as a factor and could accept committee involvement as long as its charge includes criteria that emphasizes winning conference championships.
With the BCS meetings coming up this month, what does the conference hope to gain from those, and what does the ACC stand to lose?
JS: I don’t think there’s anything we stand to lose. Everybody is going to have access if there’s a playoff. If you win enough and are rated high enough, in the top four or however that’s done. What we want to have for our champion is as prominent a game as we can have if it is not playing in the semifinals. Beyond that, as we would in any system outside of these games, whether there are three games or five or six games, is to have the best possible bowl sites and bowl matchups.
Why is a selection committee not your first choice? What are your concerns about it?
JS: I understand a lot of people trust human beings more than they do computers. The concern that I would have is finding people who are unbiased and don’t come in with any preconceived perceptions and notions about various teams. I’m not opposed to a committee. My guess is we can come to an agreement on how to do that. It may be a combination. You just want to take as much subjectivity out of it as possible and yet you want people who understand the game and can truly pick one team from another.
What can you do to better position the ACC and further enhance the league’s image through the postseason or upcoming negotiations?
JS:I don’t know that it’s any different than any other time. This is an opportunity for our league in the postseason in terms of who we would be playing more regularly, an opportunity in the sense that potentially there will now be four teams that will have a shot at the national championship rather than two. We have a chance to come out of this with enhanced bowl opportunities in terms of matchups at the top level, and we’ve got two new schools coming in, and we’ll have 14 teams that run the entire eastern seaboard. I think we’re extremely well-positioned moving forward. We need to take advantage of winning more high-profile games. We need some of our programs that recently have not been quite as good as they had previously to come back, and I think that will happen. What I see is extraordinarily positive moving ahead for this league from a football standpoint. The opportunities are there.