Ohio State AD Gene Smith suggests College Football Playoff, not the NCAA, should govern the sport’s highest level

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One of the many ways college football at the FBS level is unique from other college sports is how its playoffs are run independent of NCAA oversight, which has led to the growing power of playoff football. college since its inception in 2014. Now, a prominent sports leader is suggesting that CFP leaders seize control of college football at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith suggested at the Big Ten spring meetings on Tuesday that the CFP should have a significantly expanded role in major college football as the sport grapples with deep changes on many fronts – the transfer portal and student-athlete rights chief NIL among them. Specifically, Smith suggested that the FBS tier should operate under the CFP with its own rules and structure, while the NCAA would continue to host basketball and Olympic sports championships.

From ESPN:

“We [can] create our own rules, create our own governance structure, have our own application, we have our own requirements, whatever those are,” Smith said. “…It could be in the medical field, for example, if a student-athlete is hurt and injured in his senior year. You take care of them when they are done until they are healed. And we have the funding in place to do so. You don’t get anything else with the NCAA. You keep the academic requirements in place. The reality is that the schools that offer 85 football scholarships have made a different commitment and that needs to be addressed.”

The NCAA committed this week to suppress boosters disguising “pay to play” payments as NIL, but college athletics’ governing body has been largely toothless on the NIL front. Smith, meanwhile, has been one of the most respected voices in college football during a time of change for the sport, having served as captain of the Buckeyes athletic department since 2005.

Smith clarified that he was “just throwing ideas around,” but his voice carries weight in college sports nonetheless. Outside of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Smith is among the most visible administrative figures in college football. With the SEC and Big Ten leading college football’s new frontier in terms of annual revenue, Smith figures as a central part of the conversations that will shape the future of the sport.

“The reality is that we have to start controlling our own space,” Smith told ESPN. “We have to make sure we’re careful with antitrust, but at the end of the day we need different rules.”

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