The expansion of the NFL season could lead the nation's major colleges to institute a football playoff, NCAA Executive Director Dick Schultz said Tuesday.
The longer NFL season limits television opportunities for bowl games and could lead to some bowls closing operations. If enough drop out, Schultz said, the NCAA membership could then be driven to stage a playoff."I don't see much enthusiasm for the playoff," he said. "The enthusiasm for the playoffs is with (the media) and the fans and not with the coaches or the (college) presidents.
"I don't think we'll have a playoff until we see that change."
But he allowed that change could be forced by the NFL since the major television networks are tied to showing NFL games on dates that in the past were used to broadcast bowl games. Schultz said the option is syndication "and we've seen that hasn't been too successful."
He said by the end of the 1990s the playoff hand could be forced as the full effects of the lengthened NFL regular season are felt.
"The impact that's going to have because of their television contract is going to really deal a very severe blow to a lot of the bowl games," Schultz said.
"In three or four years it's going to be very difficult for an average-size bowl to get a television contract that is meaningful."
The NCAA's leader said there was an immediate effect of the NFL season expansion during the 1990 bowls when eight games crowded the airwaves on New Year's Day.
"That scramble was simply because the NFL was taking those playing dates," said Schultz, "and you saw what happened to the television ratings on New Year's Day. They just went right down the tubes."
When the television money dries up, the number of bowls is expected to drop off proportionally. Schultz said the impact could end half or more of the current 32 accredited bowl games.
"If that happens and we lose eight or nine bowl games in the next five or six years and then the attitude may change (regarding a playoff)," he said.