HOOVER, Ala. – College Football Playoff chief Bill Hancock lauded the overall success of the four-team playoff system, but admitted that the group was 'disappointed' by smaller television viewership numbers of last season's semifinal games.
"The issues are what day is the best to allow the most number of people to watch the games, and, yes, we were disappointed with the viewership, although millions of people watched those games," Hancock said Monday during the first day of SEC Media Days, adding "The semifinal games this year were among the highest-rated cable games of all time."
The two semifinals -- Orange and Cotton bowls -- took place on New Year's Eve rather than the traditional New Year's Day. The same quirk in the schedule will see this year's games – Peach and Fiesta -- also take place on Dec. 31.
Hancock said the group will take a look at the schedule once the season is over.
"We pledged after this year's games we will be looking at the semifinal schedule and will continue to do that," Hancock said. "We don't feel any rush to make a decision now, tomorrow, or any time in the relatively near future.
"We may have had a bit of a sophomore slump with the New Year's Eve matter. I don't know. But certainly the date was a factor. I feel fortunate that we have time to make the right decision on this, and we will take our time, and we'll make a decision."
Hancock said the playoff group is looking at another round of bidding for future sites to host the national championship game in a couple of years. "That would be spring of '18," he said. "We have six selected now and all six are in different states so we've met our goal of moving it around."
Tampa won the right to host this year's title game while other Sunshine State cities like Jacksonville and Miami have unsuccessfully submitted bids to host the game.
SEC commish promotes league's integrity
In the wake of a troubling offseason, one in which schools like Tennessee and Ole Miss faced glaring off-the-field issues, Greg Sankey preached the word of integrity Monday.
The commissioner of the SEC used his opening remarks at SEC Media Days to stress that his league would always try to 'do the right thing.'
"… Our institutions are expected and will continue to handle these matters with integrity," Sankey said. "We hope both of the current matters are completed in a timely manner. We understand there are issues that arise. That's why the expectation for integrity is so high. And as we move forward together, we can't have any more of those issues arise."
Tennessee recently settled a Title XI lawsuit to the tune of a $2.48 million dollar settlement while Mississippi is currently in the middle of an NCAA investigation centered on allegations of players receiving impermissible benefits.
"The central thought must be, must be, we never have a team return a championship trophy, never vacate any wins, and never have one of our teams precluded from postseason competition because we either can't follow the NCAA's rules or can't meet the expectations for academic success," he added. "We have made enormous progress."
Sankey said the league created a working group this offseason to help the SEC work towards meeting the NCAA expectations while "avoiding integrity compromises that challenge our entire mission."
He added that it's imperative the league must understand the high expectations placed on it when it comes to the personal conduct of each of its players.
"Young people need to understand the serious consequences associated with their behaviors, and our leaders need to make certain the laws and expectations of society are unquestionably followed," said Sankey. "As leaders, we have to hold ourselves to high standards so that we are the example for our student-athletes."
Sankey took a few moments to recongnize the loss of legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
"Pat was a pillar of the Southeastern Conference," he said. "She's on par with many of the great names, may have set the standard for all of the great names that are a part of this conference. Her impact is felt every day in the lives of the young people she mentored. Their ongoing success is living proof of Pat's influence and truly positive impact of intercollegiate athletics."
He also addressed the absence of legendary coach Steve Spurrier from the week's proceedings: "We will miss Steve's unique football genius, and you will miss the entertaining quotes he offered annually at SEC Football Media Days."
Auburn eager to make changes
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said the Tigers need to "play with pace" offensively, including at the quarterback position.
"The positive is we have three guys that we feel like can execute our offense," Malzahn said Monday. "The challenge we have is defining and figuring out who that guy is that gives us the best chance to win games."
The Tigers finished near the bottom of the league in total offense last season as several different players spent time at quarterback. Jeremy Johnson and Sean White are back to compete for the job as well as transfer John Franklin III.
Sankey: Stance hasn't changed on satellite camps
It's been a little more than three months since the NCAA reversed its initial ban on satellite football camps, and the SEC brass is still voicing its concern over the controversial practice.
College coaches can serve as guest mentors at camps throughout the country, with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh among those embracing the chance to tour the nation.
"Our stance is still consistent with that we think the recruiting that took place four or five years ago when we first raised our concerns in summer camps outside of the recruiting calendar is inappropriate," Sankey said. "I'd reflect back on a quote I saw from [Big 12 commissioner] Bob Bowlsby that he observed, 'It was a mess.'
"That's really what we predicted."
When asked whether the league would soften on the issue if the NCAA stepped in to run the camps, Sankey said he doubted it would happen, citing the same discussions more than a decade ago concerning non-institutional basketball camps.
"I think there is probably a hypothetical that it could happen, but I'm not sure if it's practical," he added.
"I think if I went into a coaches' meeting, they would say, 'We don't need this. This isn't healthy for football. This isn't healthy for college football.'"
Start of SEC Media Days
Birmingham is the first stop on the month-long 2016 college football season preview party bus with the kickoff of SEC Media Days.
The four-day event, which kicked off Monday, features coaches and players from all 14 schools put through a gauntlet of interviews all for the amusement of the more than 1,200 members of television, radio, print and online media assembled – all unfolding live in front of a nationally-televised audience.
This year's affair, however, may lack a bit of luster.
For the first time in more than a decade Steve Spurrier will not be here. The patriarch of the pun, Spurrier was always good with a quick one-liner while tossing a life preserver of levity amid a sea of coach-speak.
Commissioner Greg Sankey will kick things off Monday with his state of the league address. Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, will address the media as well.
Here are a few topics you can expect to here more about this week:
- satellite camps: As many of the coaches in the league continue to grapple with the advantages/disadvantages of these camps, there are reports the NCAA may take a larger role in running a limited amount of them in the future.
- safety: concussions and head-related injuries are still a concern among many in the business and leagues are doing everything they can to work with officials to limit above-the-shoulders hits like those used in targeting.
- instant-replay: Conferences like the SEC are experimenting with collaborative replay with real-time video feeds to the league's home offices in Birmingham allowing officials to help out on controversial calls.
- time-demands: Officials from the Power 5 conferences announced last week an agreement that would begin limiting the amount of time demands placed on athletes - a concern raised among many during the NCAA meetings in January.
The event concludes Thursday afternoon.