Florida president Bernie Machen has contacted at least two high-ranking television executives prior to a college football playoff presentation this week to the SEC presidents.
Machen told SportsLine.com in April that he intended to gauge the viability of a playoff with television sources before this week's SEC meetings. He will make his presentation to the conference presidents Friday at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla.
SportsLine.com has learned that Machen has spoken to noted TV consultant Neal Pilson, a former CBS Sports president. The other TV source is a retired network executive. The two exchanged messages but did not speak.
Machen is interested in how much additional money could be made from a playoff. Last season's postseason produced $218 million in revenue. Eighty-six percent of that money went to the six major conferences and Notre Dame.
Machen's idea is to take a playoff windfall and distribute the money more equitably to the 119 I-A schools.
"My pitch is simple," Machen told SportsLine.com last month. "This is in the best interests of college football. There is a lot of money that is not on the table that could be on the table."
How much more money is not certain. International marketing group ISL of Switzerland offered $375 million per year for a 16-team playoff in late 1990s. The game's power brokers did not move on the offer. ISL later went bankrupt.
Three years ago ABC sports executive Loren Matthews pitched a "plus-one" playoff to BCS commissioners. It was rejected out of hand. At the same BCS meetings that year in Phoenix, the commissioners adopted the current "double-hosting" format, which added another game to accommodate a possible qualification by a mid-major school.
One network executive recently told SportsLine.com that there are really only "1½" bowl games annually that are considered consistent hot properties. Those games are the BCS championship and, to a lesser extent, the Rose Bowl. A playoff would certainly produce more meaningful postseason games, thus bumping up TV rights.
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A huge concern is how a playoff would affect the regular season and the other bowls. The Rose, Pac-10 and Big Ten have reiterated that any talk of a playoff involving them is a non-starter.
"We need to get some serious thinking," Machen said. "I've talked to several of the bowls. If we're going to do it we need to give the bowls a chance to be a part of it. To be honest, the only entities to be stuck about it are the Big Ten and the Pac-10. They like their sweetheart deal with the Rose Bowl.
If the rest of us decide to go this way we'll see what they have to do."
The SEC presidents are willing to listen to Machen, but it's not clear if there is any support for his plan. Big 12 presidents, at their conference meetings earlier this month, said they weren't interested in a playoff. If it ever came to a vote in his conference, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said league presidents would be overwhelmingly against a playoff.