Like it or not, the College Football Playoff, set to debut this coming season, will be around until at least 2025—or outlast the next Bush (Jeb) or Clinton (Hillary) administration.
At least that's what Bill Hancock, the CFP executive director, insisted will be the case when he spoke at the AWSM convention in Orlando over the weekend.
There's just one catch: While the CFP has signed over the entire postseason to ESPN in a 12-year, $5.64 billion deal, the contracts with the six bowls that will take turns to host the semifinal games remain unsigned just three months before the season were to start.
CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reported earlier Wednesday that the bowls—Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton and Peach—have not yet come to terms with the CFP. The primary hangup appears to be that the bowls, which have long operated independently even during the BCS era, are having some second thoughts about surrendering all of their autonomy so they can be run in a centralized fashion much like the Final Four.
Hancock, however, told Dodd the contract holdup is only a formality and nothing to worry about:
"We're continuing to discuss the contracts," he said. "This is nothing unusual. We're just plugging away and everything will get finished."
That may be so, but the longer this drags on, the more likely the bowls will get cold feet. By submitting themselves to the CFP arrangement, each bowl already will lose its own uniqueness. The Rose Bowl, for example, may never get another matchup between the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions as it did last season, as well as every year after World War II and before the advent of the BCS.
Whereas the BCS mostly preserved the bowl system that has been in place for nearly a century, the CFP more or less will obliterate it. The big bowls used to send their representatives (sporting those tacky blazers) to games all over the country to scout teams that they might want to invite, now teams will be assigned to them by a selection committee.
Though it's too early to speculate whether the entire CFP apparatus might fall apart before it even gets started, it's safe to say that the CFP is still a work in progress. While there has been much talk about expanding the playoff field to eight teams or even 16 teams, that is very much a non-starter because we haven't even dotted the i's and crossed the t's for the the four-team CFP.
First things first.