Big Ten Coaches Sound Off About College Football Playoff Expansion
by Mike Sullivan Scores & Statson
College football playoff expansion is always a big topic of discussion. We will always have fans, media, coaches, players, etc, clamoring for more. A lot of people were pleased when college football decided to institute a 4 team playoff, but a lot of people also want it to expand even more.
This has been a hot-button topic of discussion at Big Ten Media Day.
“Thoughts on the playoff system,” Jim Harbaugh said, “I guess the first thing that comes to mind is more would be more, more would be better in the playoffs. Four in right now. Let’s go to eight and eventually get to 16.”
That was the boldest statement among the seven coaches who spoke Monday. Harbaugh pointed to how the Football Championship Subdivision playoff “model has been successful.” The FCS has a true tournament feel and has grown from its initial four teams in 1978 to 24 teams since 2013.
Even if the college football playoff grew to 16 teams, it would mean only 12 percent of the 129 team in FBS would make the tournament. That’s a tiny number compared 38 percent, or 12 of the 32 teams, that make the NFL playoffs.
First-year Nebraska coach Scott Frost also was on board with expanding the CFP, although he prefers eight teams that would consist of the Power 5 conference champions and three at-large teams.
“Obviously, that changed and the BCS happened and the best two got to play,” Frost said. “I thought that was an improvement. Getting it to four teams is an improvement. But it’s hard to look at last year’s college football season and not feel like an eight-team playoff is where we should go. And that’ll always be my opinion.”
Last years, Frost coached Central Florida to a 12-0 record but the Knights didn’t earn a spot in the CFP despite being the only undefeated FBS team.
“I think it should be the five conference champions and three at-large teams,” Frost said. “That would give a surprise conference champion that plays well at the end of the season a shot. It might give a team like we had at UCF last year a shot.
Penn State coach James Franklin was the strongest opponent of expanding the playoffs, mostly for practical reasons regarding the length of the season.
“People talk about expanding the playoffs and things like that, I don’t necessarily — I’m not on the same page with that,” Franklin said. “This game, we started out playing 10 games, then we went to 11 games, then 12 games and now with the payoffs you’re talking 15 games. That’s a lot of games. We haven’t expanded the rosters.”
I have the belief that the playoff system is pretty good as is. If people don’t want to change it, I understand that opinion. But I personally would like to see an 8 team format where each Power Five conference winner goes to the playoff, 2 at-large bids, and the highest-ranked Non-Power Five school will go as well.
I think 8 teams is perfect without getting too crazy with a 16 team format adding all those extra games.
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