BCS Playoff

No rest for Swarbrick as playoff talks continue

2013-01-07T21:30:00Z No rest for Swarbrick as playoff talks continueBy ERIC HANSEN South Bend Tribune nwitimes.com
January 07, 2013 9:30 pm  • 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. | College football coaches typically have a brief 24-hour rule to either celebrate or commiserate about the outcome of an important game, then move on.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick doesn’t even have that luxury.

Hours after No. 1 Notre Dame and second-ranked Alabama squared off in the penultimate BCS National Championship Game on Monday night at Sun Life Stadium, Swarbrick was scheduled to meet with college football’s

11 conference commissioners to try to put some finer points on the new postseason format that kicks in for the 2014 season.

“It’s an important meeting, because it sort of sets the calendar for the next year,” Swarbrick said Sunday. “While I don’t think there will be substantive developments out of it, I think there will be a process that will emerge from it — here’s how we get to the site for the first championship. Here’s how we’re going to pick it. Here’s the timetable for implementation for the selection committee.”

“We won’t have accomplished any of those things substantively, but I think we’ll set the path with deadlines to get to them. Obviously, the key things are site selection and a selection committee.”

The BCS’ 16th and final run unfolds next season. Then it’s on to a four-team playoff in 2014, with a selection committee to pick the four teams. From there it gets complicated, especially as it pertains to semifinal sites and a top tier of bowls just below the playoff in status and financial rewards and above the others.

CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd, citing an anonymous source, said the semifinals for the first season of the new format will take place in the Sugar (New Orleans) and Rose (Pasadena, Calif.) bowls. The sites will rotate each year.

Dodd also reported the host city for the first title game in the new era will take place in Arlington, Texas, at Cowboys Stadium.

When asked to confirm the Dallas metro area as the default location, Swarbrick chuckled.

“Imagine what (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones would say if I referred to Dallas as the ‘default selection,’ Swarbrick said. “The great thing about this model is we can go anywhere.”

One of the hidden plusses about the new format is that ticket allotments for the participating schools are expected to be significantly larger. Alabama and Notre Dame each received 17,200 tickets for Monday’s BCS National Championship Game in the 76,100-seat Sun Life Stadium. Notre Dame had more than 100,000 requests.

Stipends in limbo

Providing student-athletes with up to a $2,000 annual stipend to cover “the full cost of attendance” met very little resistance as it wound its way through the NCAA legislative process in 2011.

More than a year later, it’s still no closer to reality.

“It’s not about intent. It’s about execution,” said Swarbrick, a member on an NCAA committee to study the issue and come up with a solution. “The complexity of it is very real.”

As Swarbrick and his committee members dug deeper into the issue, they found in some instances — because of the way some schools calculate their financial aid, because of issues with federal Pell Grants and because of income tax consequences — receiving the stipend may actually cause some student-athletes to end up with less money.

“It’s not for lack of trying that we haven’t found the right formula yet,” Swarbrick said. “I’m optimistic.

“It’s not about paying to participate. For me, sort of a central element of the basis is that the evolution of college sports has taken away the ability to take a summer job.”

Big East breakaway?

When Notre Dame announced it was leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in basketball and most of its Olympic sports four months ago, the hope was that the Big East wouldn’t make ND wait until the 2014-15 season to make the move.

Notre Dame is still hoping.

ND’s agreement to play five ACC schools a year in football will take shape in the fall of 2014. Beyond that, the assumption was, with Boise State recently backing out of its pledge to join the Big East in football only, Louisville jumping to the ACC and the seven Catholic basketball schools announcing their impending secession, that the Irish just might be able to break free in time for the 2013-14 sports cycle.

“Obviously, we continue to get new pieces of information external to our discussion,” Swarbrick said. “We don’t have a resolution. We’re continuing to talk about it.”

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