Urban Meyer has one pet issue with the College Football Playoff: the travel burden it imposes on players' families. It was the first thing he talked about when Ohio State was officially selected to the Playoff in early December and the first thing he talked about in a group interview with Nick Saban, Mark Helfrich and Jimbo Fisher during ESPN's college football awards show. In terms of pet issues, this was the dog that he took to work with him and then let sleep in his bed.
In fact, he implored the writers in attendance to keep harping on the issue during the Buckeyes' CFP championship media day.
And as if they were tuned in and listening, the College Football Playoff announced a pilot program to provide $1,250 in assistance for each parent or guardian for every traveling Duck or Buckeye.
“We know how expensive travel can be, so we’re pleased to provide assistance to parents or guardians who want to see their sons play in the first College Football Playoff National Championship,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “It will make the game even more special for the student-athletes to know that their family members are receiving this benefit.”
The CFP's announcement noted that their program was pending NCAA approval and, voila, the NCAA announced its own program within minutes - and extended it for the men's and women's Final Four this spring. Families traveling to the Final Four will receive $3,000, and extra thousand for those who reach the championship games.
“Championship experiences like the Final Four create memories of a lifetime for student-athletes, and we want to make sure their families are there to support and celebrate with them,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement.
Both programs received waivers for this year, but will need to go through the NCAA legislative process to receive full approval. Regardless, money shouldn't be an issue.
While it's not a groundbreaking stance to believe the nine-figure television contracts funding both the CFP and the NCAA Tournament should underwrite family travel, Meyer and Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith sounded the air horn the loudest.
"Are we going to get their families to Dallas?" Meyer said following Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win on Thursday night. "We should. That should happen immediately, that there should be an immediate committee meeting somewhere. Let's get them to Dallas and watch their sons play in college football history. And I hope you all write that. That's more important than anything else being said today."
In a world where it takes a year of meetings, hearings, votes and re-votes to put cream cheese on bagels, the powers that be enacted necessary change in less than a week.