A college football playoff? UGA prez Adams blazed that trail

Regarding a football playoff, Michael Adams used his bully pulpit. (AP photo)

Regarding a playoff, Michael Adams used his bully pulpit. (AP photo)

Michael Adams was four years ahead of the game. In January 2008 the Georgia president offered a detailed plan for an eight-team college football playoff, and he believed his proposal would draw enough support to prompt discussion in the right places. Alas, his idea was hooted down at the NCAA convention later that month.

Flash forward to January 2012: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and NCAA president Mark Emmert conceded there might be a place for a playoff in the only sport that has resisted one, and the concept seen as fanciful in 2008 has taken on the look of a fait accompli. Obvious question: Why now if not then?

Said Adams: “I think three things have happened: The Big Ten and what’s now the Pac-12 have gotten on board; conference realignment has forced everyone to take a fresh look, and — much as I hate to give you guys [meaning the media] credit — the drumbeat from you and from the public has been constant.”

Back to the first of Adams’ three factors: The Big Ten and the Pac-12 were long the hardiest holdouts because they’d pledged allegiance to the Rose Bowl. Adams offered his proposal knowing it would meet resistance from those two conferences but believing he had the support of Myles Brand, then the NCAA president, and several key college presidents.

“I did what I did with the full knowledge of Myles Brand,” Adams said, “and I believed 35 to 40 percent of presidents felt like I did.”

What happened at the NCAA convention in Nashville? “There was a lot of pushing and shoving from the conference commissioners. … I had hoped for more encouragement from the [NCAA] board. Some of the support I thought I had backed off under pressure. It’s a lot easier to voice something in private than in public.”

That same year, SEC commissioner Mike Slive suggested a four-team playoff, with ACC commissioner John Swofford seconding, and that notion also was dismissed. It must be noted that Slive was frosted by Adams’ proposal, arriving as it did — in this newspaper, with this correspondent writing the news story — just after LSU of the SEC had claimed the BCS crown by beating Ohio State in New Orleans.

For some, the message couldn’t be separated from the messenger: Georgia had been passed in the final BCS standings by LSU and was dispatched to New Orleans not for the title game but for a ho-hum Sugar Bowl pairing with Hawaii. The belief in some circles was that the president of Georgia’s prime motivation was sour grapes.

Adams: “We got accused of it being a reaction to what had happened, but it really wasn’t. I just felt someone needed to say something.”

Four years later, many of those who turned thumbs down to Adams have joined the choir. Said Adams: “We were at the head of the train on this one.”

And now the questions: How might a playoff be staged? Will it be an eight-team tournament that incorporates, as Adams’ plan would have, the four major bowls? Guessing, he said he believes there’s “more inclination to a four-team playoff … but exactly how it would work will depend on what kind of deal there is on the Rose Bowl.”

Will the NCAA, which had washed its hands of the elephantine bowl system, step in and run the playoff? (Seeing that it runs the playoff for every other collegiate sport, it has a history.) Adams: “My own view would be to let the NCAA run it. With all [the NCAA's] warts and blemishes, it does do that better than anyone else. Reading between the lines, I think Mark [Emmert] will do whatever the leadership wants.”

With a playoff tacked on, will some of the 35 existing bowls get lopped to reduce clutter? Adams: “I think we just need to let the market work, and it is working. There may be more staying power for some bowls, but I think 25 or 30 will be in it for the long haul.”

Over his 15 years at Georgia, Adams hasn’t always been a champion in the arena of public opinion. He supported the hiring of Jim Harrick, who would leave in disgrace, as basketball coach and shoved Vince Dooley toward the exit at a time when the athletic director wasn’t quite ready to depart. But the early advocacy of a football playoff should have brought Adams a measure of absolution, and in the light of current events he stands revealed as a sage.

The temptation to gloat would seem immense. To his credit, Adams did not yield, saying instead: “Some ideas just need time to germinate.”

Germination time on this one: Four years.

By Mark Bradley

115 comments Add your comment

Sonny Clusters

February 17th, 2012
11:33 am

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2012
11:34 am

Clusters in midseason form even before pitchers and catchers convene. Kudos!

Rickster

February 17th, 2012
11:36 am

Dang! Second.

Rickster

February 17th, 2012
11:36 am

Well.. at least I’ll be ahead of the guy who comes in third! :-)

George Stein

February 17th, 2012
11:37 am

Believe it was Ricky Bobby that told us that if you’re not first, you’re last, Rickster.

Sonny Clusters

February 17th, 2012
11:39 am

Said Adams: “We were at the head of the train on this one.”

Being at the head of the train is usually for a Tech man. That’s the Engineer. Usually, most UGA graduates are at the back of the train making use of their degrees from the College of Conducting which is over by the College of Welding. When we was little we would watch the trains go by the ballpark and we wondered where they were going and then Coach told us they would just follow the tracks until they got there and it made a lot of sense. If we had pursued our opportunities at Clemson we’d probably own a railroad by now.

Rickster

February 17th, 2012
11:43 am

Never watched the Ricky Bobby movies, George, so I’ll have to take your word for it.

Sad to hear of Gary Carter’s passing.

Loved his enthusiasm for the game. Hated the way he always seemed to step things up against the Braves.

Sonny Clusters

February 17th, 2012
11:45 am

Baseball is a sport for purists. We was a purist from the get-go and that’s why we don’t like designated hitters or inter-league play. We think the Wild Card ought to be done away with (like the Braves did away with it last season). We have been working out before spring training and that’s why we are getting on the blogs first right now. When spring training starts and Mark is blogging baseball every day we will be ready to make some real contributions on this blog. Here’s one to start thinking about . . . what is Dan Uggla’s screen name? Being in the movies is exciting unless one of your co-stars is a german shepherd wearing black socks. Some of those movies aren’t real good and the camera shakes. We was hoping Mark might ask Uggla about it when he sees him.

George Stein

February 17th, 2012
11:47 am

Adams’ best work has been in improving the university part of the University of Georgia.

Sonny Clusters

February 17th, 2012
11:51 am

We did some research on Fredi Gonzalez and we found out he did not even wear a cap before he got into baseball. The cap tipping started late in life for him and really accelerated last season when he seemed to be cap tipping to the Nationals and the Marlins and the Mets all the time. We are not sure he ever tipped his cap to Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals but he should have. If we was him we’d have traveled to St. Louis to tip our cap to somebody that could close a gap like that and win the “Wild Card Championship” when Schuerholz already had the little sign painted ready to hang in the outfield at the Ted.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2012
11:59 am

Yeah, but who cares about school stuff?

Kidding.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 17th, 2012
12:03 pm

I knew a Clusters once, but he was funny. Must not be related.

dean

February 17th, 2012
12:09 pm

I can’t imagine any playoff scenario not being better than the 136 (slightly exaggerated) bowls that DON’T count for anything, deal we have now.

Matt

February 17th, 2012
12:11 pm

You’re kidding, right Mark? Just because UGA got hosed by the system in 2008 doesn’t mean they were “ahead of the curve”. The only curve the State of Georgia is ahead of is that of obesity, illiteracy, etc. Ever hear of Auburn in 2004, LSU/USC in 2003, Colorado in 2001, Miami in 2000? UGA isn’t ahead of anything – if anything, they were late to the “Death to the BCS” party, but like all things with this fan-base, $hi+ never happens until it happens to us.

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
12:13 pm

The SEC has at least one guaranteed spot in the BCS title game every year. The Big 10 and Pac 12 care more about the Rose Bowl then the national championship. We are never getting a playoff.

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
12:16 pm

I can’t imagine any playoff scenario not being better than the 136 (slightly exaggerated) bowls that DON’T count for anything, deal we have now.

I am still shocked that College Football fans put up with a post season as bad as what they get. It truly is atrocious at this point.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 17th, 2012
12:16 pm

GTBob, “we are never getting a playoff” and that would affect you in what way?

bitter long trip

February 17th, 2012
12:17 pm

Buy you a free trip to the phillipeans adams,,,,,,,,,,butt you can’t come back for 10 years

—————-trust me dawg fans its worth the price of a one way ticket——hahahahahah

Paul in NH

February 17th, 2012
12:24 pm

“Elephantine bowl system”?
More like Byzantine bowl system

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
12:25 pm

GTBob, “we are never getting a playoff” and that would affect you in what way?

I’m a college football fan and I think it would be more exciting to watch then two random teams who may or may not deserve to be playing each other. GT and UGA neither one are going to start winning championships if a playoff comes but at least we could watch some other teams get a chance.

Funny Bunny

February 17th, 2012
12:37 pm

Maybe Elephantine is referring to The Tide.

funny...

February 17th, 2012
12:44 pm

Whole lotta dumb converging here.

Mister Pants

February 17th, 2012
12:46 pm

Yes, Adams mentioned a playoff system 4 years ago. If you want to really see where college football is heading just read the Forbes article on the Big Ten-Pac Ten collaboration. Like it or not, Jim Delaney is the godfather of college sports and what he is planning is going to change everything.

Really Haters!!!!

February 17th, 2012
12:46 pm

CMR would have two national championships if a playoff system was in effect. GTBob please don’t speak for UGA…you hate UGA and your opinion doesn’t matter. GO DAWGS!!! Suck it Matt!

Tide Rising

February 17th, 2012
12:49 pm

Seriously. You think that Georgia rightfully getting left out of the 08 championship game in favor of a better LSU team that year is the impetus behind this. Umm. No. The impetus was the big 10 and pac 12 commissioniers watching the SEC win a 6th straight title and in particular watching 2 SEC teams fight it out in a rematch for the title. You can thank Alabama for being so thoroughly dominant throughout the season that the bcs gave us a rematch, making it an all SEC affair and guaranteeing that the big 10 and pac 12 commissioners would then be ticked off and start opening up to the idea of a playoff.

Tide Rising

February 17th, 2012
12:51 pm

“CMR would have two national championships if a playoff system was in effect.”

Really? And you can prove this how considering they weren’t even good enough to finish #2 to even get into the national title game let alone win it?

KJ

February 17th, 2012
12:57 pm

LOL @ GTBlob putting NATS and UGA in the same category. Keep dreaming, buddy. If a playoff had been in place in the last decade or so, UGA would have been in the mix at least twice.

Can’t we just exclude the Big Ten/Pac10 from having any say in anything? One conference wilts when they have to face real competition (Suckeyes) and the other has to lie/cheat/steal just to stay relevant (USC).

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
12:57 pm

There is a risk for the Big 10 and Pac 12 in going to a playoff. If they give up the most prestigious football game played every year so that they have a slightly better chance at a championship then the decision could bite them. What if the SEC and Big 12 just dominate the playoffs every year? Then the Rose Bowl was sacrificed for nothing. Not that I think they should keep it because traditions like that are what ruin college football, but I can understand their thinking.

Tide Rising

February 17th, 2012
12:59 pm

2007 season. Lets see now. LSU loses to 2 bowl bound teams on the road in both games in triple OT in both games. Meanwhile UGA loses at home to an unranked S. Carolina team that did not go bowling and got blown out 35-7 by a UT team that LSU beat by 10 while playing with a backup qb. UGA had no impressive noncon win while LSU pounded VT 48-7 which ended up finishing 4th in the nation.

Any which way you look at it the 07 LSU team clearly deserved to go over UGA based upon season and accomplishment. Its not even debateable dawg fans so shut the hell up about 07.

And lets not hear any crap about LSU jumping UGA in the last bcs standings. Polls change every week and teams rise and fall all the time. Just because it was the final bcs poll doesn’t make that poll any different from the first poll of the season. Gawd you dawg fans are stupid.

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
12:59 pm

LOL @ GTBlob putting NATS and UGA in the same category.

So you think if a playoff was started that UGA would start winning national championships? Really?

Mister Pants

February 17th, 2012
1:06 pm

GTBob,
The end game of the Big Ten-Pac12 collaboration is that the two conferences (quasi super conference) will play the Rose Bowl every year as a national playoff game without the NCAA. You could very well see the SEC-ACC or Big 12 do the same thing with the Sugar or Orange as their playoff game.

KJ

February 17th, 2012
1:06 pm

Try actually reading my entire post, kid. They wouldn’t be guaranteed anything, but they’d at least be afforded a chance, and not shut out by a faulty rankings system.

dawgfan

February 17th, 2012
1:13 pm

GTBob, if Bradley writes a blog about the future of the El Paso Bowl or the Shreveport Bowl we’ll let you know. This is big boy football talk and you don’t belong here. Take a hike. UGA has more top 10 finishes in its butt crack than your joke program has had in its entire futile existence. So naturally we think we have a shot a national title. Stop the presses everybody because a bitter crybaby Tech fan disagrees!!! We’re all shocked that you don’ think highly of UGA football GTBob. Nobody ever saw that coming out of a Tech fan.

You are dismissed.

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
1:17 pm

GTBob, if Bradley writes a blog about the future of the El Paso Bowl or the Shreveport Bowl we’ll let you know. This is big boy football talk and you don’t belong here.

Your last three bowl games were The Outback, Liberty, and Independence bowls. Three completely meaningless bowls that no one will ever remember. Man I wish we could play “big boy” football like that.

Mad@change

February 17th, 2012
1:17 pm

So does the athletic association reimburse the state for the time Adams spends on football instead of improving education?

Freelemur

February 17th, 2012
1:17 pm

Michael Adams, as usual, is lying. Bernie Machen proposed the idea of a playoff a year earlier and adams was against it.
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2815940
Of course Machen was for a playoff even though Florida was winning National Championships in the current system. Adams’ “idea” came only after uga felt (wrongly) slighted for a shot at a title.

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
1:19 pm

They wouldn’t be guaranteed anything, but they’d at least be afforded a chance, and not shut out by a faulty rankings system.

They would probably have to win the SEC and I don’t see UGA doing that again for a long time.

KJ

February 17th, 2012
1:25 pm

Well, I don’t see you bringing a woman home without paying in advance for a long time… but everyone gets lucky once in a while.

GTBob

February 17th, 2012
1:34 pm

Well, I don’t see you bringing a woman home without paying in advance for a long time… but everyone gets lucky once in a while.

I’m not really the bringing women home type but thanks for your concern.

Bobo is Not the Problem

February 17th, 2012
1:40 pm

CMR would have won two championships easily if crazy folks like Saban, Miles, and Meyer would just quit working so dang hard!!!

FIRE MARK RICHT.

Bobo is Not the Problem

February 17th, 2012
1:42 pm

dawgfan, you are dimsissed, you imbecilic loser.

You are the type of Dawg fan who gives the rest of us a bad name.

Go home and never come back.

Bobo is Not the Problem

February 17th, 2012
1:42 pm

RxDawg

February 17th, 2012
1:46 pm

Well I guess he did… but don’t forget that UGA got hosed in 2007. We should of played for the championship that year.

dan

February 17th, 2012
1:46 pm

Quite frankly I’m tired of this whole argument. It has been dissected from every angle, and I just don’t care anymore. These presidents and conference idiots will do what they want, regardless if it makes sense or not. And they’ll justify their lousy decision making with the same tired argument of ” well the popularity of the BCS is high so why change it?”. And ESPN will continue to solely cover the major programs, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. It’s all a colossal pile of BS, with a ribbon tied around it.

However, if forced to weigh in on the decision, I think it would be wise to try a plus one format first to see how that works. The current system is set up for that anyway. I say do that for 4 years, and then if it doesn’t work then go with something else. I think anything bigger than that waters everything down. I don’t want to the college football season to be meaningless like it is in the Pro’s, but it looks like its heading that way. Also, with all these “super conferences” taking shape, I’ll go ahead and make a prediction: in the next 5 years, we’ll see a National Championship team with 3 losses.

Bobo is Not the Problem

February 17th, 2012
1:46 pm

“But the early advocacy of a football playoff should have brought Adams a measure of absolution, and in the light of current events he stands revealed as a sage.

The temptation to gloat would seem immense. To his credit, Adams did not yield…”

Give me a break, Mark. The idea for a football playoff has been around for well over 50 years. It wasn’t born in ‘08, or ‘07, or any other year in the past 50. Folks have wanted this for a loooong time.

Adams was WAY LATE to the party.

But since you were the correspondent to write the story about Adams in ‘08, I guess you feel a measure of self-importance as well, as implied by “in this newspaper, with this correspondent writing the news story”.

Maybe you would just rather play it straightforward and show us the first column YOU wrote advocating a college playoff.

RxDawg

February 17th, 2012
1:47 pm

Well if would of kept reading… I’d of seen you addressed that Mark.

RxDawg

February 17th, 2012
1:53 pm

“I knew a Clusters once, but he was funny. Must not be related.”

Ain’t gonna lie… that one made me chuckle.

What’s the big deal with the Rose Bowl? I mean I know they like to proclaim themselves as the end be all of college football history and all but come on man! It’s just a stadium. I really don’t care where the games are played, I just care about the games and the programs. It’s about time someone told those Rose Bowl folks to either get on board or get off.

Bobo is Not the Problem

February 17th, 2012
1:59 pm

Went to the SI Vault, which is difficult to search because apparently it returns articles with ANY of the search words, but does not have a function to return articles with ALL of the search words. So I searched for the exact phrase NCAA football playoff. Surely there are many more articles on the topic than I found (two), but here is the beginning of one from January 2, 1967 (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1135432/index.htm):

“In that great two-point conversion in the sky there will no doubt be an NCAA football playoff. Until then, however, there will only be the postseason bowl games.”

RxDawg

February 17th, 2012
1:59 pm

“You can thank Alabama for being so thoroughly dominant throughout the season that the bcs gave us a rematch, making it an all SEC affair and guaranteeing that the big 10 and pac 12 commissioners would then be ticked off and start opening up to the idea of a playoff.”

Your absolutely right Tide Rising. That was about the only reason I was excited about the LSU/Bama rematch. I knew that was going to just irk to many big wigs.

RxDawg

February 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

“Really? And you can prove this how considering they weren’t even good enough to finish #2 to even get into the national title game let alone win it?”

We finished #2 in 07. But your right, you can’t make the statement that UGA would of won and call it fact. But I can say that in 02, 05, and more then any of them 07 we would of had a great shot at it. That’s also why I scoff at people who say Richt hasn’t and will never win a BSC championship. Because those 3 years were good enough to win it all in some of the other seasons.