3rd And Long: The new-look college season for FWAA members

AT&T Stadium and the Cotton Bowl will play host to a semifinal in the expanded CFP this coming season.

By Mark Blaudschun

We are in the "quiet'' time of the college football season.  NIL and transfer portal chatter is on mute--or as close as it will get.

Conference expansion and unrest is in the "what's next?'' stage.

And a football season which will include massive changes in structure has everyone at the starting gate on equal 0-0-terms. 

It should be that way for FWAA members as well, because we are about to engage a season which is akin to a Star Trek mission, boldy going where no player, coach, team, or conference has gone before.


 A 12-team playoff for FBS schools, with the four top seeded conference champions (more about that later) receiving first-round byes.

Four meaningful quaterfinal games (welcome back to New Year's Day game relevance) in the New Year's Eve-New Year's Day time slot.

A pair of CFP semifinals and a championship game, played in mid to late January.

Welcome to the NFL college football, considering that there will be revenue sharing among conferences, colleges and players, a potential salary cap and assorted other issues including the possibility of strikes by college football players (don't dismiss it).

As for the regular season, well that too will be vastly different, primarily during the time of frenzy when conferences play their championship games, as teams jousted for playoff spots.

Those days are gone. 12 spots instead of four.

RIP, conference championship games. 

The top tier conferences--Big 12, ACC, SEC and Big 10--are virtually meaningless since, each league will receive multiple playoff bids.

In fact, it might be prudent to finish third in the confefence standings, rather than first or second, to avoid the potential injuries which couuld occur in the championship game.

It is only a matter of time--perhaps a few years--before the CFP expands from 12 to 16 teams and there are eight first-round (no byes) games at conference sites in mid-December.

Which brings us to the first potential tsumani of the playoff season which the powers that be in the CFP acknowledge, but refuse to put in a simple clause which could mitigate the issue.

The CFP wording is specific and clear: Top four CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS receive first-round byes.

But here's the "what if'' the CFP has ignored: What if Notre Dame, which can not be a conference champion since it is not a member of a conference, wins all of its game and is ranked in the Top 4 or, even worse, No. 1 in the country?

Picture this scenario: Unbeaten Notre Dame finishes its regular season unbeaten after having beaten previously unbeaten--and Big 10 regular season champion USC.

CFP rules state that USC--not Notre Dame--would receiver the first-round bye.

If the college football world was stunned by the outrage and vitriol created by omission of unbeaten Atlantic Coast regular-season champion FSU from the playoffs, it will be even more stunned by the public and media pushback which will take place if USC gets a bye while Notre Dame is forced to play in a first-round playoff game in December in South Bend against No. 12 seed Tulane.

What is even more exasperating is that it is fixable with a simple change in the wording.

The four highest ranked (by the selection committee) receive byes.

This will disappear when the first round expands to 16 teams and there are eight first-round games in what will be a true CFP tournament.

For the FWAA there are other issues of coverage.

College football, like the rest of the world, is quickly becoming a zoom sport.

Less interaction, more reliance on remote set ups in coverage and interviews.

Television, as it always has, rules and will continue to do so as long as the money flows from the networks to the conferfences, to the schools and now finally and correctly to the players.

More than one coach or administrator has left the CFP world, muttering "it's not college football.''

Yes, it is in the strictest sense, which is what ultimately save the sport.

The general public and fanbase for college football still wants to see its teams play in the fall and could give a hoot about NIL, transfer portal players, free agency and money being paid.

They want their games on Saturday afternoon or evening, with their teams playing against their rivals, both old and new and newly created.

That will not change

But it will be different, much much different.

Enjoy the summer.