16 College Football Playoff Gaining Steam?
Bigger than 12 could benefit the Mountain West
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A ballooned playoff?!?
The playoff expansion talk is back! At Big Ten media days, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told ESPN on Tuesday that the talk around a potential 16-team College Football Playoff is growing
This expanded College Football Playoff talk was beyond 12 teams.
“Sixteen just seems to be out there,” Smith said. “You can’t ignore it.”
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is also on board and seems to be OK with a 16- team field.
“I can live with 12, I can live with 16 — I just think we need to expand,” Alvarez said. “I think access is important. I can live with 16.”
This is a big change since the Big Ten, along with the Pac-12 and ACC shut down an expanded playoff within the past year. However, that was before the Big Ten raided the Pac-12 to add USC and UCLA.
Even commissioner Kevin Warren has changed his tune. Warren previously wanted Power 5 leagues to earn auto bids, and that was based on the fact that a Big Ten champ should be in regardless.
As history has shown us, every year since the BCS except for two would have had all power leagues in a hypothetical 12-team playoff. The two off years were a weird expansion year when the AAC/Big East had an auto bid and the 2020 COVID-19 season.
Warren told The Athletic that he wants some sort of auto bid but is unsure exactly how that would look.
“I’m going to soften my stance on it,” Warren said. “I just feel like we have to give some credit for conference regular-season success. Now, whatever that looks like, I don’t know.”
We know exactly how that would look and it is the proposal put forth by the four-member playoff committee this past summer. The compromise was to give the six-highest rated conference champions earn an auto bid. That would include the Big Ten every single year for its champion to be in.
That six could change with the Big Ten adding more teams and becoming more than a super conference. However, giving more of a path to every single conference would go a long way in keeping the sport national and allowing more teams to make the playoff and at the very least compete for a national title.
We asked our Twitter followers what format they preferred, but not everyone is on board.
I think 12 teams would make more sense to me personally 🤷♂️
16 at that point it seems you have 8 conference winners (B1G and SEC auto, and then next 6 highest ranked conferences) and then 8 selected teams (highest ranked or however they want to do it)
— Quinn David Lightfoot (@q_footy) July 27, 2022
Doesn't matter because it's gonna benefit the P5 conferences n screw the rest
— JRV (@JohnnyVillarea3) July 27, 2022
8 teams no auto bids with the teams selected using a BCS style ranking
— Holden McKee (@hmckee53) July 27, 2022
The format itself with 16 teams likely would mean more on-campus games which is a huge selling point for college football fans to see a warm-weather SEC team go in the January cold of Big Ten country for a potential snow game.
If the final proposal were to be six conference champions and then 10 at-large bids that would include at least one Group of Five team and possibly even two or in the off year three if there are a few good ones out there.
A No. 1 vs. No. 16 likely would be a blowout and for example, this past year that would have been Alabama hosting Oklahoma, if we use the final College Football Playoff rankings. The Crimson Tide likely would win that game but it would be entertaining.
Also, in those rankings, BYU would have made the field alongside Cincinnati to give two teams outside the Power 5 a spot.
Most importantly to those from the Big Ten is that 16 teams in a field would provide more chances for at-large bids from those leagues. This would solve some issues with the sport as it is contracting with larger and large leagues.
Expanding the playoff gives more teams hope to make the field, even if a title is not in reach for that No. 10 team. However, that would lead to a lot more fun games. Conference title weekend would not just be a money grab but automatic bids would be won or lost that weekend.
Teams that stumble early could get hot late and make a run and earn a spot in the playoff and have a chance at a title after a player gets healthy or replaced due to performance.
The same four to seven teams still might go to the title game but it would provide hope — which is a very powerful thing — and over time possibly spread the talent out at least enough to have an upstart or non-blueblood team win a national title.
This is quite the turn of events from this past year and more access to the playoff is only a good thing for the Mountain West and the entire sport of college football.