Rumors of a College Football Playoff expansion will soon be reality.
The CFP management committee has received a recommendation from a subcommittee, of which SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is a member, to expand the playoff from 4 to 12 teams.
This was done to make the New Year’s Six bowl games, outside of the semifinals, relevant again. If a New Year’s Six bowl game was not part of the semifinal, interest in the game waned, and the bowl game suffered.
If the Allstate Sugar Bowl wasn’t part of the playoff, the best the Sugar Bowl could hope for is a rising team that would travel, or LSU, or Alabama. If not, there were a multitude of empty seats.
That was the case in January of 2020, when Georgia and Baylor played before an announced crowd of 55,211.
The CFP had to take action. They will. Now, the New Year’s Six Bowls will be relevant every year.
Each game will be either a National Championship semifinal or quarterfinal each season. The top four teams will get a bye. The four games played in the first round will be on campus.
So, in some respects the CFP will look like the FCS playoffs. If you are in the playoff, and don’t have a first round bye, you have to win four additional games to win the championship.
The negative about expansion is this. In the current four team playoff, only a handful of semifinal games have been quality endeavors.
There just haven’t been enough good games. Last season, Alabama beat Notre Dame by 17. Ohio State defeated Clemson by 21.
I can think of two truly great semifinal games since the playoff was implemented at the end of the 2014 season. That season, Ohio State defeated Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl. Three years later, in two overtimes, Georgia defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
Two years ago, in Atlanta, LSU routed Oklahoma 63-28.
When the game ended, I told an LSU official that five teams in the SEC were better than that Oklahoma team.
“No,” he said.
“You can make it six. Ole Miss was better.”
I couldn’t disagree.
So, in the future, there will be plenty of blow outs. And, some schoools .. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson .. you can just about pencil in to the playoff ever year.
If Clemson stubs its toe, and loses one game in the ACC, they will still be in the playoff. A two loss Clemson team, and a two loss Alabama team would likely still be participants.
So, the regular season, in my opinion, will be less relevant.
But, the big bowls, including our Sugar Bowl, were suffering under the current four team playoff.
If you weren’t a semifinal, you had plenty of empty seats, and fewer eyeballs on TV. A 12 team playoff will remedy that.
And, that is why it will happen.