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Hawkeyes, Cyclones talk about new playoff system

[ 1 ] June 27, 2012 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. College football’s revolutionary decision to mimic basketball’s Final Four will have little effect on Iowa’s two major colleges, if history is an indicator.

Iowa would have been considered once in recent years if the just-announced playoff plan had been around.

Iowa State, meanwhile, wouldn’t have reached discussion.

Nonetheless, from Iowa City to Ames — it’s seen as a positive.

“Best thing that’s ever happened to college football,” former Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud said Wednesday. “It’s not going to eliminate all the bickering and whining, but there’s nothing wrong sometimes with controversy.”

University presidents Tuesday approved a conference commissioners’ plan for a four-team playoff starting in 2014.

A selection committee will determine the qualifiers. Semifinal-round games will rotate among six established bowls. Selection criteria will include strength of schedule. Heavy consideration will be given to conference champions.

“It’s a positive step, certainly,” Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It seems like it’s already generated a lot of excitement.”

Based on the past, however, players from Iowa and Iowa State will have a ringside seat in front of their favorite big-screen television.

Iowa would have been under consideration in 2002 after finishing the regular season with a No.3 ranking and an 11-1 record — before losing against Southern California in the Orange Bowl.

“We’d have been part of it,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said.

The Hawkeyes finished No.9 after beating Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl following the 2009 season. They entered that postseason ranked 10th by The Associated Press.

“That’s the fun of playing it,” Ferentz said. “You never know where you’re going to be at the end of the year.”

Barta stressed that controversy will continue.

“In fact, it might increase,” he said. “Before, the debate was about who was No.1 and No.2 and that might have been a four-team discussion. Now, it could be a 10-team discussion to determine who’s in the Final Four.”

The value of the Big Ten holding a conference championship game between winners of the Legends and Leaders divisions also is open for debate under the playoff plan.

What happens if the conference’s highest-ranked team loses in the championship game?

“It’ll probably knock somebody out of a chance to play in the playoff system,” Ferentz said. “The bottom line is that it’s still all about winning.”

It’s also about money — estimates into the hundreds of millions when television networks start negotiating.

That certainly will re-open the “Should College Athletes Be Paid?” discussion.

“People expect a lot from student-athletes, but the compensation isn’t much in comparison to how much money the playoff will generate,” said Arnaud, who for years has been a proponent of athletes receiving a stipend beyond their scholarship.

“The life of a scholarship is worth, what, $80,000?” he said. “Don’t get me wrong — that’s a lot, but it’s a small piece of the overall pie when television starts throwing money around.”

That hot-button issue also was discussed in Iowa City on Wednesday.

“Every player would want a little money,” Iowa receiver Keenan Davis said. “They ask a lot from us — and sometimes people, I think, forget that we’re doing everything that we do while also going to class.

“It’s been talked about a lot in class lately. It’s fun to talk about.”

FERENTZ MUM ON GARMON

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz will wait a while longer before discussing freshman-to-be running back Greg Garmon, of Erie, Pa., who was picked up last month for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

“It’ll be in the courts at some point in the near future,” Ferentz said. “Once that takes place, I’ll have a little more to say about it.”

Garmon’s preliminary hearing is July18 in Erie. He and another freshman, Cedar Falls’ Barkley Hill, could play this season at a position desperately needing depth.

— Randy Peterson

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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