Barta Knows Playoff Committee May Have To Consider Different Scenarios For Season

Some teams could play a full schedule, while others might not.

Gary Barta said the principles of putting together the College Football Playoff this season won’t change.

The methodology for selecting the four-team field and ranking the top 25 teams in Division I, though, could be different in a season that could look different during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barta, Iowa’s athletics director who was named chair of the playoff committee earlier this year, said during Thursday’s video conference with media members that there are any number of scenarios that could play out this season, including one where some teams could play a full schedule, while some could play a limited schedule.

“We haven’t worked out any specifics,” he said when asked how a committee would handle a season in which teams and conferences could play different schedules. “As you know, there’s a list of principles that the board created when the CFP was put together. Those principles are still going to be guiding the decisions and the goal ... the goal is to decide the top four teams to play in the semifinals, and then to rank the teams through the top 25 after that. So, the methodology in the scenario you described, the methodology would certainly have to change. But the principles would remain the same.”

The principles considered for selecting the four teams include conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, comparative outcomes of common opponents, and factors such as key injuries that may have affected a team’s play during the season or could affect its play in the postseason.

Barta said those principles won't change, but he knows there have been discussions among conferences around the nation about scenarios where teams could play a reduced schedule of less than 12 games, or maybe just a conference-only schedule. 

“We would put together a method and a process that follows the principles and identifies who that committee believes are the best four to play in that playoff,” he said.

Barta said the 13-member selection committee will have planning meetings later this summer, but the first meeting to put together rankings won’t be until November.

Barta said he would be comfortable flying to Dallas for the meetings, and said he expected there would be social distancing in the meeting rooms.

“Between now and then, hopefully (there will be) testing and, my goodness, a miracle occurs and we have a vaccine,” Barta said.

Barta is planning on a full season for the Hawkeyes, who open the season on Sept. 5 with a home game against Northern Iowa. It's a time when Barta continues to have mixed feelings as he remains in constant contact with the rest of the Big Ten athletic directors.

“I can’t speak for every AD, but I can tell being with them virtually every day, they share these same ups and downs that I do every day,” Barta said. “One day, I think it’s a no-brainer we’re going to do it. The next day I’m concerned because I heard something new.

“They’re preparing for football being a full season. They’re preparing for football with fans, and they’re preparing for football with as many fans as want to come, and then scaling it back from there. I think there’s a good confidence level on May 28 with 100 days left to the first kickoff. Ask me that in another 50 days when we’re at 50 days out and we’ll see if we have the same answer.”