With the collegiate landscape in the midst of sweeping changes and uncertainties, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith on Tuesday proposed the 10 FBS conferences operate under the umbrella of the College Football Playoff with their own rules and structure while the NCAA continues to host championships for basketball and Olympic sports.

Smith, who said he was “just throwing ideas out” in a brief interview with ESPN at the Big Ten spring meetings, said the schools that offer 85 scholarships “need different rules.” He said they could create minimum standards for membership.

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


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Smith said he’s shared the idea with some of his peers and has received mixed reviews. His suggestion comes at a time when the NCAA and Big 12 are both searching for new leaders, the NCAA is restructuring its entire governance and weighty issues like name, image and likeness and the transfer portal have dominated discussions here.

Smith said the FCS championship for college football should remain untouched, but the FBS could follow the same model. He pointed out that as the FBS commissioners continue to consider an expanded playoff beyond the 2025 season, they’re only talking about those 10 leagues and Notre Dame.

“The CFP model needs to be looked at differently,” Smith said. “As we consider expansion, we ought to consider the structure. The reality is we need to begin to control our own space. We’ve got to make sure we’re careful with antitrust, but at the end of the day, we need different rules.”

Colorado athletic director Rick George said he’s been saying for years that college football needs somebody to oversee the sport in the same way college basketball is run with Dan Gavitt, who is the senior vice president of basketball at the NCAA.

“College football needs the same thing,” he said.

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