College Football Playoff expansion is good and just about the money

College Football Playoff expansion is good and just about the money


Friday’s announcement that the College Football Playoff would expand from four teams to 12 teams by no later than 2026 was as surprising as the September following August on the calendar.

The expansion was going to happen sooner or later – as it turned out – not because anyone in charge was concerned about the fairness of the four-team playoff or because it was the right thing to do. Or out of any concern for what might be best for the players.

In the end, as always, the chiefs and their henchmen simply discovered that there was too much money on the table not to expand. Say the word “billions” to any college president and you’ll get that person’s attention right away.

And so, at some point in the next few years, we’ll have a 12-team playoff: four games in the first round; Four first-round matches at home locations; Quarter-finals and semi-finals at tournament locations and the tournament game for the highest bidder.

College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams early 2024

For the record, this is the right thing to do and it should have been done when the playoff was first created. The 11-member Board of Directors — made up of chairs and advisors — formally voted unanimously on Friday to instruct conference delegates to change the format from four teams to 12 teams no later than 2026 but possibly as early as 2024. It bet on the former. Date.

As you might expect, the quotes from this ad are comic. The best ones probably came from Mark Keenum, Mississippi’s president and chairman.

“We are not naive to understand that there is additional revenue by expanding play-offs,” he said, probably with a straight face. “But I can tell you by being involved in the discussions from the start, what motivated me and the heads as well is that we wanted to have the opportunity to have more teams participate in our country’s national championship tournament. With only four teams, we felt this was not fair to our student-athletes from an participation point of view. ..

“We are aware of the additional revenue that will be available, but that was not the driving force behind this final decision. It was not.”

Keenum should have added, “I’ll be here all week. Try the veal and tip the waiters.”

Wasn’t money the driving force behind the decision? seriously? Money is the only driving force behind the decisions that are made in college athletics nowadays. Did Oklahoma and Texas decide to jump to the Securities and Exchange Commission because their leadership wanted “student-athletes” to have a chance to visit Tuscaloosa or Starkville? Have UCLA and USC decided to join the Big Ten for their November trips to Columbus or Ann Arbor — or, for that matter, Piscataway or College Park?

Everything you need to know about USC and UCLA moving to the Big Ten

Share “Student athletes?” That’s what happened now to the chiefs?

For years, academics defended the old bowl system on the grounds that they didn’t want to ask “student-athletes” to extend their seasons or play too many games. The 11-game regular season schedule then became the 12-game regular season schedule. The conference tournaments then became the thirteenth game, and the college football playoff made sure that teams contending for the title would play up to 15.

Now, teams would likely play 17 – if the Conference Championship matches didn’t go away. That’s the same number of regular season games now being played in the NFL.

What really drove that decision was the realization by ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 that they were in grave danger of losing any residual connection. Pac-12 and Big 12 had already taken a financial hit with the impending departures of USC, UCLA, Texas and Oklahoma. The ACC had to live in fear that the SEC might hunt Clemson—the only school in the convention that matters nationally since the collapse of the once-powerful Florida and Miami.

If Clemson were to leave for (probably) the SEC and take one of those powers that fell with it, the ACC would spend the rest of eternity sending teams to the Mayo Bowl at Duke. The mayonnaise bath for the winning coach seemed to fit right into the league’s football profile.

Now, with six conference champions including a place among the 12 teams in the new system, the three wounded powerhouses can at least lay claim to being part of the new tournament. So too, in all likelihood, Notre Dame can, because TV will want the Irish in the tournament as long as they make up a team.

The sudden rise of Marcus Freeman at Notre Dame was also expected

As for the little ones – the so-called group of five – they will now get at least one show each year. This is exactly the same as the total number of bids they received in the first eight years of the Four Teams event. Nothing more than that is guaranteed. As with the basketball committee, you can bet that the third- and fourth-place teams of the Power Conference will get priority over the second-of-five team.

It took a perfect storm — and a win at Notre Dame — to get the Cincinnati team 13-0 in last year’s playoff. Don’t expect a lot of storms like that to get a second team. It’s worth noting that, having fulfilled its requirement to have at least one team from the group five within the “Six New Year’s Balls”, by awarding Cincinnati a playoff place, no one else was required to participate in the Grand Slams other than the playoffs .

You can also bet that the Group of Five team won’t be one of the four seeded teams that will bid farewell and, depending on the rules, might play well down the road in the first round. The only way this might not happen is if a decision is made that the two non-bye-bye conference champions host the first round matches.

That’s a good thing for college football. That won’t diminish the importance of the regular season, as it does with some defenders of the current and previous systems. In fact, the opposite would be true. The top teams will compete for a farewell in the first round; Everyone else would desperately want to play at home, and the rest would be, to use the beloved basketball tournament term, bubble teams.

The money coming from TV would be mind-boggling. Sure enough, ESPN has a right of first refusal until its current contract expires after the 2025 season. Then? Chiefs can probably sit back and enjoy a bidding war that will run into the billions as eleven matches will be needed to select a national champion instead of three.

Oh, in case you were worried, the Rose Bowl would still be connected to the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Thus, the possibility of a USC-Oregon Rose Bowl still stands. Or maybe UCLA-Stanford. Classic competitions.

It is comforting to know that some traditions remain unchanged. Because, after all, it’s all about these “student-athletes”, not money. Just ask the bosses.

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