Football

College Football Playoff would include eight teams ‘in a perfect world,’ Swofford says

It was toward the end of his annual media day Q&A with reporters on Monday when ACC Commissioner John Swofford said with a laugh that “we almost got through this” without a question about the College Football Playoff and its future.

The playoff debuted at the end of last season with four teams. So the question now, naturally, is when it will grow to eight teams. The move seems inevitable, though Swofford, an outspoken proponent of a playoff during the BCS years, said it won’t happen any time soon.

“I’m thrilled that we are at four, and where we are, I think that’s where we will be through the duration of this (TV) contract,” he said. “I think it’s where we should be because it fits the parameters that the presidents had given us in terms of a playoff.”

ESPN has an agreement to broadcast the playoff through the 2025 season. That’s the earliest Swofford sees the playoff expanding though “in a perfect world,” he said, the playoff include eight teams.

“But right now – that’s not in the cards right now,” Swofford said. “No, you would have to look at playing fewer games before then to do away with conference championship games or play 11 regular-season games instead of 12, something of that nature. It’s probably doable. You’d have to adjust a lot of television contracts and maybe down the road, maybe that’s something that this evolves into.”

MARQUISE WILLIAMS SO HEALTHY IT’S “SCARY”

Marquise Williams isn’t just healed and healthy after playing last season through the constant pain of a hip injury. No, Williams said on Monday, he feels as healthy as he’s been since his sophomore year of high school.

“Now that I’m healthy, it’s going to be scary,” Williams said. “It’s going to be exciting, too.”

Williams underwent hip surgery in February and missed spring practice but he said he’s fully recovered, though he still requires some rehabilitation work. He finished second in the ACC a season ago in total offense, behind Jameis Winston, Florida State’s former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback.

Though he was productive most weeks, Williams struggled through some games

“Towards the end my body just started to wear down and I tried to take care of it the best that I could but it just wasn’t happening,” he said.

DEPTH OVERLOAD

Few ACC teams can rival the running back depth of N.C. State, which averaged 204.5 yards rushing last season.

Junior Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes return, and the Wolfpack’s depth chart also may include freshmen Nyheim Hines, Reggie Gallaspy II and Johnny Frasier.

“We have the two horses – Shad and Matt – already there,” defensive end Mike Rose said Monday. “Ny Hines is a class kid. Johnny Frasier is more of a bruising back and Reggie Gallasby is like a mix of the two with a little speed, a little power.

“I think they can grow up together, play together. I think N.C. State will have very good running backs for a while.”

NEW QB, NEW LOOK FOR DUKE?

Duke has had one of the best offenses in the ACC the past two seasons but it will have a different look this season with Thomas Sirk, the quarterback who’s taking over for the departed Anthony Boone.

Sirk, a redshirt junior, is known for his athleticism and his running ability, and his teammates swear by his passing, too, though that aspect of his game is more unproven.

“We know Sirk can beat you with his legs, but he can also throw very accurately,” Matt Skura, the redshirt senior center, said on Monday. “I think what the coaches want to do this year is start implementing a little more run game, a little different sets we know we can take advantage of with a quarterback like Sirk.

“I think that’s going to make our offense really dynamic.”

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, acarter@newsobserver.com, @_andrewcarter

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, calexander@newsobserver.com, @ice_chip

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