There is a new NCAA president, and his name is Mark Emmert. Unearthing what his priorities are might take a little more time.
But it is possible Emmert will be our shining light for a college football playoff.
Emmert’s predecessor, the late Myles Brand, made it no secret that his priority for college athletics was academic reform. While the NCAA made financial decisions that indicated otherwise — continuing to sell out for TV contracts, approving 12-game seasons, etc. — at least Brand instituted the Academic Progress Rate (APR), which measures a college program’s success in moving students toward graduation.
Emmert was very careful not to say what his priorities are. Among his comments: “I want to sit down with the membership and talk about what’s working and what’s not. … I don’t foresee revolutionary change in terms of academics issues, I see an evolutionary change as we go forward.”
But if we look at Emmert like a politician — and we should — forget what he says publicly right now. It’s important to note what his past statements have been. There’s an interesting story by the Seattle Times’ Bud Withers, who knew Emmert when he was president at Washington.
Withers quotes Emmert as saying: “I happen to be one that thinks it’s inevitable we’ll have a playoff.”
There’s also this excerpt:
Talking football playoff [18 months ago], Emmert referred to “illusory arguments” like missed class time.
“I’d like to be one having shaped that,” he said of a playoff, the words now sounding almost haunting, “rather than having it shaped by others.”
This doesn’t mean a playoff is going to be approved next week. College presidents have to be on board. The bowls have to be on board. Conferences have to be on board, and that includes the Pacific 10 and Big Ten, which have resisted because of their sweet setup with the Rose Bowl.
But at least we know where the new head of the NCAA stands on the issue of college football playoff. That’s a good start.