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Observer Exclusive: Swarbrick discusses potential college football playoff

Chris Allen | Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Since its inception in 1998, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has been the subject of much scrutiny. The long-awaited news of its demise came out of a late-April meeting between Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick and 11 conference commissioners. Swarbrick spoke with The Observer about the future of the proposed four-team playoff system Thursday.

Swarbrick said while there is agreement on the four-team model, many other considerations have yet to be settled upon.

“The good news is there is strong consensus around a four-team model, still to be resolved is the issue of when and where the semifinals are played,” he said. “You have different models, you have independent sites, you have bowl sites and you have home campus sites.

“The last piece other than selection that’s really important to resolve here is to come to a consensus on that issue of where the semifinals are played. It’s accepted that the national championship game will be at an independent site.”

Though the exact process of selecting the four teams to compete in a playoff will be decided at a future meeting, Swarbrick said he has pushed to ensure the importance of regular-season football is preserved.

“I was real pleased that there seemed to be unanimity among everyone involved in the discussion that we want to make sure selection rewards strength of schedule,” he said. “That helps protect regular-season football, encouraging good teams to play each other, outside of the conference games they have. That issue has to be resolved.”

Given Notre Dame’s unique position as a football independent without a conference tie-in, Swarbrick has had to ensure that the new system allows Notre Dame to stay relevant and compete for titles. He said he is pleased the proposed system fits with Notre Dame’s strategic goals.

“The two things that we focus on are having an opportunity to win a national championship: Is there anything about the system that will limit us or put as at a disadvantage? I’m optimistic that it won’t,” he said. “The other is: Does it allow us to maintain our independence? I’m optimistic that it will.”