Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Greg Schiano agrees with President-elect Barack Obama on at least one thing.
College football needs a playoff system.
“I don’t want to disagree with the President Elect, so whatever he says goes,” Schiano, the Rutgers football coach, said during his press conference Monday that aired live on SNY.
Obama endorsed a playoff system during an interview with Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday night.
“If you’ve got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there’s no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system,” he said.
According to Obama’s proposed system, eight teams would play over three rounds to settle the national champion.
“It would add three extra weeks to the season,” he said at the conclusion of a wide-ranging interview. “You could trim back on the regular season. I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this. So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Schiano said he wasn’t sure if an eight-team playoff would be manageable and that it might be better to have four teams play semifinals — known as the “plus-one” approach — and then a final within the current BCS bowl system
“I think there’s a place for it, but I don’t think it’s going to be a full-blown playoff,” Schiano said. “But I do think there’s a place for it.”
College football expert Mel Kiper Jr. said a four-team playoff would mean that there would be three meaningful games played in January instead of just one.
“With a ‘plus-one,’ there would be three games instead of one game that would be critical because then you would have the two semifinals and then you would have the national championship,” Kiper Jr. said Monday on the “Max Kellerman Show” on ESPN Radio. “So instead of having one game that we’d care about, we would have three games that we care about.”
Kiper Jr. said such a system wouldn’t necessitate the shortening of the regular season.
“I don’t think so, no,” he said. “That would be perfectly able to be worked into what we have right now and would not effect the bowls and would not effect anything really. It would basically be allowing four teams to battle it out.
“And if that’s the case, would that be palatable? To a certain extent it would but it would still leave a lot of teams out of the mix. It wouldn’t be a so-called playoff the way we like it. There wouldn’t be 8 teams or 16 teams invited, but it doesn’t seem like we’re going to get that. It seems like a pipe dream.”
Still, Schiano said, the current system for declaring a national championship game through the BCS poll also stirs discussion and controversy.
“I think this one’s not bad because we are talking about it now,” he said. “People are talking about it in diners and bars and classrooms all over the place about college football.”
Kiper Jr. vehemently disagreed.
“All this crazy discussion and debate [is] about stuff that is inconsequential,” he said. “It’s like fantasy-league stuff we talk about all year because that’s all that college football is reduced to.”
SCHIANO ON THE FIRING OF SYRACUSE COACH GREG ROBINSON“I’m not naive,” he said. “I understand the nature of college and pro football….When something like that does happen, it doesn’t make me feel good. That’s for sure.”
The two men have some history. Before the Scarlet Knights beat the Orange, 38-14, last year at the Carrier Dome, Robinson was speaking to play-by-play announcer Dave Sims in the Big East Game of the Week production meeting about recruiting in New Jersey when he made a statement he apparently thought was off the record.
“Paul [Pasqualoni] was here 14 years. We got five in one year, that’d be 70 if we were here that long,” Robinson said. Of Rutgers, he added, “We’ll recruit their tails off. They’re a one-year wonder. Do I like them? No. This recruiting thing? You wait and see.”
Given an opportunity, Robinson didn’t retract or edit his statement before this year’s game, won by Rutgers, 35-17.
“That whole thing was really an unfortunate situation because I don’t think that it was…I think it was somewhat misconstrued, but those things happen,” Robinson said.
In reference to Robinson’s comments of a year ago, Schiano said before this year’s game: “I think it’s probably taken out of context. Greg’s a good guy. There’s nothing to it, really.”
JEREMY BRANCH UPDATESchiano said that fifth-year senior long snapper Jeremy Branch will probably need surgery after suffering an injury to his right knee on an extra point before halftime in Saturday’s 49-16 rout of South Florida.
“Jeremy, the MRI findings are not good,” Schiano said. “He’ll probably end up needing surgery at some point. I don’t really know right now what the plans are as far as will he snap or not during the season. That’s still up in the air, will he be able to.
“There is damage there, so we will address that as we go along.”
Without Branch, Andrew DePaola, the starting holder, became the long snapper and punter Teddy Dellaganna became the holder.
(The AP contributed)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.