UGA president sees football playoff on the horizon

semerson@macon.comFebruary 9, 2012 

ATHENS -- Georgia school president Michael Adams has long been an advocate for a college football playoff. Now Adams feels the momentum careening in the direction of that opinion.

Adams told the UGA athletic board Wednesday that he expects a four- or even eight-team playoff to be in place by 2014. Expanding on those thoughts later with the media, Adams said change is coming thanks to the Big Ten and Pac-12 moving in favor of a playoff.

“There’s no secret that the biggest impediments to that historically have been pretty much the Big Ten and the Pac-12. And so the fact that they are seemingly beginning to change their view will make this all maybe possible,” Adams said.

Why in 2014? That’s when the current BCS contract ends, so any new postseason setup would likely be effective for that season.

The Big Ten is preparing to propose a four-team playoff, with semifinals at campus sites. But Adams is holding out hope for the eight-team playoff he proposed several years ago.

“I don’t say this about very much, but I think we were actually at the front of the train on that issue,” Adams said. “I can see it coming down the track, and I think we will end up with something that the fans feel better about. We may never get anything that the fans feel perfectly happy about. But one of my major concerns all along has been that I didn’t think we were paying enough attention to the fans who foot the bill for all this. And I think that realization is beginning to come home.”

SEC commissioner Mike Slive is part of discussions for a playoff, according to Adams, who said he would defer to Slive on that.

The SEC has benefitted from the current system, winning six BCS championships in a row. But the league appears ready to move forward.

“I just know this is what the public wants,” Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said. “And I think you have to listen to that.”

Richt contract almost done

The athletic board discussed but did not finalize a new contract for head coach Mark Richt on Wednesday.

“We’re pretty close,” Adams said. “There’s some lawyering to be done yet, but we’re in 98 percent agreement. The other two percent is just minor details.”

Adams did not want to get into contract details, other than to say, “We believe in our football coach, and we think he’s gonna be here a good while.”

Meanwhile, a new deal for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is further from completion. McGarity spoke to Grantham on Wednesday and a deal could be done in a few weeks.

“I’d probably have to give him something in writing when we talk about the general parameters of what we want to do,” McGarity said. “I don’t know if there’s really any urgency there.”

SEC schedule update

SEC athletics directors will meet later this month, at the conference’s women’s basketball tournament, to go over future scheduling for football and basketball. Could Georgia’s annual cross-division rivalry with Auburn be in danger? McGarity said he hopes not.

“I think you have to have an open mind and consider everything,” McGarity said. “But we just haven’t studied enough to be able to come out and say: This is where we are.”

One way to solve it is to expand the SEC schedule to nine games, thus allowing for six division games and three against the other division. The ACC has decided to go to nine games, following the lead of the Pac-12.

But the SEC doesn’t want to do that, according to McGarity, who cited the non-conference schedule being squeezed. He pointed out that most teams have a traditionally non-conference rival, a la Georgia Tech.

“Nine games and Georgia Tech, that makes 10 games,” McGarity said. “If you ever wanted to schedule Clemson or Ohio State, like we have, then that only leaves one guarantee game. That’s a pretty tough schedule. Fans would love it. But I don’t know if your coaches or players (would). That’s strapping it up 11 of 12 weeks there. You have to have some time where some players play who never get a chance to be on the field. That’s why you schedule some of the I-AAs, and some of the other games, to let some of those kids grow, let those kids get their experience.”

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