Inside the CFP expansion debate

BleedGopher

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per Axios Sports:

Expansion is likely coming to the College Football Playoff, but exactly how and when remains a mystery, Axios' Jeff Tracy and I write.

Driving the news: CFP executive director Bill Hancock sent shockwaves through the college football world late last month when he said that the CFP Management Committee was exploring expansion models.

  • According to Hancock, those models range from six to 16 teams, but the playoff will remain at four teams for at least the next two seasons.
  • The 11-member committee has a four-member subgroup leading the charge: Greg Sankey (SEC commissioner), Bob Bowlsby (Big 12), Craig Thompson (Mountain West) and Jack Swarbrick (Notre Dame AD).
What they're saying: Five of the 11 committee members told SI this week (subscription) that they are in favor of expansion, while another three said they're open to it.

  • "I'm not about to predict the timing, but there is a general acknowledgement that the CFP will expand," said one commissioner.
  • Yes, but: TV and bowl partners have not been included in any expansion talks, evidence of how preliminary they are. "Don't read too much into it," says Hancock. "This is due diligence."
The big picture: Getting all 11 committee members to unanimously approve a single model is a tall task, but it's hardly the only obstacle in the way of CFP expansion.

  • Scheduling: A 16-team playoff would require two additional weeks of games, and while there are options (i.e. start a week early, end a week late), they all come with a cost.
  • Contracts: The CFP's deal with ESPN, as well as its individual deals with each of the "New Year's Six" bowls, all run through 2025. Any CFP changes will necessitate restructuring those contracts.
  • Bowl game dilution: Since the CFP debuted, the importance of bowl games has waned considerably. Expanding the playoff would only continue that trend.
The backdrop: During the BCS era (1998–2013), it became increasingly apparent that a two-team playoff sidelined too many great teams and left too much money on the table.

  • The CFP's four-team model was an improvement, but the BCS-era arguments have simply evolved from complaining about the third-best team missing out to the fifth-best.
  • The FBS postseason is also a uniquely exclusive endeavor: The average NCAA sport includes ~20% of its teams in the playoffs, compared to just four of 130 FBS teams (3%).
  • It gets even worse when you realize that only 11 schools have made the CFP in seven years, and that 20 of the 28 spots have gone to just four schools: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
What's next: Several commissioners told SI that they expect a formal expansion presentation to be made at their next meeting in June, "the first true step in the process of changing the model."

Go Gophers!!
 

swelna

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I think 8 is the sweet spot for the next expansion step. Conference champ of the P5 get auto bids (so the P5 conferences left out every year with the current system can stop complaining), and then either 3 at large bids for the next highest ranked teams that aren't conference champs or 2 at large bids and a bid for the highest G5 team. You could even have a conditional where if a G5 team isn't ranked in the top 15 it turns into 3 autobids.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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I don't think there needs to be more than 6 teams. The majority of the time the 3 and 4 seeds get blown out by the 1's and 2's.

Why do I want to watch a 7 or 8 battle a 1 or a 2, if the 3's and 4's are typically non-competitive? Especially when the 7 and 8's likely already have 1 or 2, or maybe even 3 losses against the teams ahead of them?

Allow the 5 power 5 champions and one G5 champion in the playoff and leave it at that.
 

short ornery norwegian

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I don't think there needs to be more than 6 teams. The majority of the time the 3 and 4 seeds get blown out by the 1's and 2's.

Why do I want to watch a 7 or 8 battle a 1 or a 2, if the 3's and 4's are typically non-competitive? Especially when the 7 and 8's likely already have 1 or 2, or maybe even 3 losses against the teams ahead of them?

Allow the 5 power 5 champions and one G5 champion in the playoff and leave it at that.

while that makes sense, I don't see it happening. with a 6-team model, the top 2 seeds get byes - and that gets right back to the same arguments, with supporters of the #3 team claiming they got hosed and should have had a bye.

the 8-team format is simpler and more 'democratic.' Granted, it will likely be rare for an 8 to upset a 1, or a 7 to upset a 2, but I think there will at least be some 'upsets with a 6 beating a 3 or a 5 beating a 4 - at least enough to create the idea that everyone has a chance.

and 8 instead of 6 means two more teams can claim to be "in the tournament" - with two more sets of fans being motivated to attend games, buy merchandise, and spend, spend, spend.

so, I think they go to an 8-team format.
 

GopherWeatherGuy

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while that makes sense, I don't see it happening. with a 6-team model, the top 2 seeds get byes - and that gets right back to the same arguments, with supporters of the #3 team claiming they got hosed and should have had a bye.

the 8-team format is simpler and more 'democratic.' Granted, it will likely be rare for an 8 to upset a 1, or a 7 to upset a 2, but I think there will at least be some 'upsets with a 6 beating a 3 or a 5 beating a 4 - at least enough to create the idea that everyone has a chance.

and 8 instead of 6 means two more teams can claim to be "in the tournament" - with two more sets of fans being motivated to attend games, buy merchandise, and spend, spend, spend.

so, I think they go to an 8-team format.

If money is the #1 factor, it usually is, then 8 makes sense.

But competition wise it doesn't. Moving to 8 just means that another 1 or 2 SEC teams will be in, who have already lost to the top 1 or 2 SEC teams already in.
 

swelna

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I don't think there needs to be more than 6 teams. The majority of the time the 3 and 4 seeds get blown out by the 1's and 2's.

Why do I want to watch a 7 or 8 battle a 1 or a 2, if the 3's and 4's are typically non-competitive? Especially when the 7 and 8's likely already have 1 or 2, or maybe even 3 losses against the teams ahead of them?

Allow the 5 power 5 champions and one G5 champion in the playoff and leave it at that.
It's only a slight majority, out of the 14 semifinal winners so far, 5 have been 3 and 4 seeds.

EDIT: The champion does have a bigger majority of only 2 out of 7 being 3/4 seeds, my bad.
 

Some guy

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.

Why do I want to watch a 7 or 8 battle a 1 or a 2, if the 3's and 4's are typically non-competitive? Especially when the 7 and 8's likely already have 1 or 2, or maybe even 3 losses against the teams ahead of them?
I take it you don’t watch the regular season then either?
 

Some guy

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12 team playoff with 10 auto bids for all conference champions.
Conference champions with 3 or more losses lose their auto bid and it becomes an extra at large (3+ loss conference champs could still be considered for at large spots)

committee seeds the 12.
1-4 get a home game and a bye.
5-8 get a home game.
You can’t get a bye unless you are a conference champ (highest at large can be rated is 5)

This means that if all 10 conference champs AND Notre Dame AND BYU went unbeaten... the playoff could accommodate that. It doesn’t diminish the regular season, it in fact makes every regular season game MORE important. The 13th best team in the country can still play in a bowl. In fact, the bowl games between conference championship week and the final four would be great lead ins to the 8 playoff games at home stadiums.
 

Plato

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The SEC had another record number of players drafted this year.
Why give the champion of weaker conferences a guarantee in the playoff when any number of SEC teams that were not champions would eat their lunch?
I like the bowl games and would leave the number at four.
The only thing driving expansion is TV money for more teams and ESPN.
 

TNGophfan

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12 team playoff with 10 auto bids for all conference champions.
Conference champions with 3 or more losses lose their auto bid and it becomes an extra at large (3+ loss conference champs could still be considered for at large spots)

committee seeds the 12.
1-4 get a home game and a bye.
5-8 get a home game.
You can’t get a bye unless you are a conference champ (highest at large can be rated is 5)

This means that if all 10 conference champs AND Notre Dame AND BYU went unbeaten... the playoff could accommodate that. It doesn’t diminish the regular season, it in fact makes every regular season game MORE important. The 13th best team in the country can still play in a bowl. In fact, the bowl games between conference championship week and the final four would be great lead ins to the 8 playoff games at home stadiums.
Way too complicated.
 

Some guy

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Way too complicated.
How is that compacted.
10 conference champs + 2 at large.
Seeded 1-12.
At largest have to be seeded 5 or lower.
First two rounds home games.

I get why people wouldn’t want it. But it isn’t complicated
 

TNGophfan

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How is that compacted.
10 conference champs + 2 at large.
Seeded 1-12.
At largest have to be seeded 5 or lower.
First two rounds home games.

I get why people wouldn’t want it. But it isn’t complicated
Ok. Wrong terminology on my part. Too many teams, too many non power 5, 4 weekends of play. Just way too much in my opinion.

I could see 8 as others have mentioned. 5 power 5 champs, best non power 5 and 2 wildcards, both not from same conference.
 

swelna

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The SEC had another record number of players drafted this year.
Why give the champion of weaker conferences a guarantee in the playoff when any number of SEC teams that were not champions would eat their lunch?
I like the bowl games and would leave the number at four.
The only thing driving expansion is TV money for more teams and ESPN.
There's an argument to be had that the 4ish teams that appear most often in the playoffs start hoarding talent even more because prospects want to play in the playoffs, expanding the playoffs could help spread talent a bit.
 

Some guy

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There's an argument to be had that the 4ish teams that appear most often in the playoffs start hoarding talent even more because prospects want to play in the playoffs, expanding the playoffs could help spread talent a bit.
Meh,
At the FCS level NDSU has won 8 of 10
Before that Montana or Delaware appeared in the championship game 4 years in a row. Which started right After App state won 3 in a row. Georgia Southern, Marshall, and Youngstown state won multiple in the 90s early 2000s

Whitewater and mount union dominate d3
Northwestern Missouri state, Valdosta, Duluth, and Grand Valley State had dynasties


college football just lends itself to dynasties
 

swelna

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Meh,
At the FCS level NDSU has won 8 of 10
Before that Montana or Delaware appeared in the championship game 4 years in a row. Which started right After App state won 3 in a row. Georgia Southern, Marshall, and Youngstown state won multiple in the 90s early 2000s

Whitewater and mount union dominate d3
Northwestern Missouri state, Valdosta, Duluth, and Grand Valley State had dynasties


college football just lends itself to dynasties
I think we can all agree that we hope the next one is a gopher dynasty ;)
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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There's an argument to be had that the 4ish teams that appear most often in the playoffs start hoarding talent even more because prospects want to play in the playoffs, expanding the playoffs could help spread talent a bit.
Yeah I'm skeptical of the idea that more playoffs spots ... won't just AT BEST (if at all) just concentrate talent among ... now X teams. But I doubt even that.

Still... I'd be happy to see try to have something break the deadlock. Ultimately tho I fear the only real change will come from impacting scholarship numbers, and there are some undesirable things that come from that.
 

Some guy

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Yeah I'm skeptical of the idea that more playoffs spots ... won't just AT BEST (if at all) just concentrate talent among ... now X teams. But I doubt even that.

Still... I'd be happy to see try to have something break the deadlock. Ultimately tho I fear the only real change will come from impacting scholarship numbers, and there are some undesirable things that come from that.
That’s all kind of true. But Minnesota was honestly two wins away from the playoff two years ago.
Iowa was a few yards away from the playoff.

Iowa state was maybe a win or two away from playoff this year.

etc
 

GopherGuy8

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I think an 8 team format is the perfect amount. It would give P5 teams who aren't seen nationally as blue bloods a better shot at getting in. It also gives non P5 teams at least a chance to sneak in. But I don't want the extra games to take up more bowl games. The first round of the playoffs should be a home game for the higher seed. Then after the first round, play it the same way it's been set up. That would be the ideal format to me.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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I think an 8 team format is the perfect amount. It would give P5 teams who aren't seen nationally as blue bloods a better shot at getting in. It also gives non P5 teams at least a chance to sneak in. But I don't want the extra games to take up more bowl games. The first round of the playoffs should be a home game for the higher seed. Then after the first round, play it the same way it's been set up. That would be the ideal format to me.
When number 8 faces Bama they could put together some great playoff highlight videos like this one:

 

upnorthkid

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agree with the 5 auto bids, one G5, next 2 wildcards approach. gives every league the chance to get in and awards those that win their conference with the home game (by and large). Would be harder to avoid rematches in round 1 (could put in a clause for this). I have no interest in seeing the 9th-16th best teams play in a single elim tournament and it extends the post season far too many weeks. 8 seems to be the sweet spot to getting representation but it's still only 3 weekends (which you could space out a little more if you wished rather than 3 weekends in a row).
 

Some guy

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agree with the 5 auto bids, one G5, next 2 wildcards approach. gives every league the chance to get in and awards those that win their conference with the home game (by and large). Would be harder to avoid rematches in round 1 (could put in a clause for this). I have no interest in seeing the 9th-16th best teams play in a single elim tournament and it extends the post season far too many weeks. 8 seems to be the sweet spot to getting representation but it's still only 3 weekends (which you could space out a little more if you wished rather than 3 weekends in a row).
You have no interest in watching 8 more games? I assume you don’t watch the bowls
 

upnorthkid

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You have no interest in watching 8 more games? I assume you don’t watch the bowls
I have no interest in watching teams 13-16 get destroyed by the top 4 seeds and then repeating the same the next week for the top few teams again. 13 vs 14, 15 vs 16 etc like what happens in the bowls makes for far more competitive games that are enjoyable to watch, not ones that you turn off in the 3rd quarter
 

Some guy

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I have no interest in watching teams 13-16 get destroyed by the top 4 seeds and then repeating the same the next week for the top few teams again. 13 vs 14, 15 vs 16 etc like what happens in the bowls makes for far more competitive games that are enjoyable to watch, not ones that you turn off in the 3rd quarter
For sure. Never blowouts in bowls. Never upsets either.
 

upnorthkid

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For sure. Never blowouts in bowls. Never upsets either.
let's just make it 64 teams then (the rough number of bowls). Seems fine then.

If you want 16 teams, sure fine. I don't. If team 13 vs 14 ends up as a blowout, it's not a big deal, but if the top 4 seeds all win by 30 and the next 4 seeds win one score games, you're diluting the game to unnecessary levels when in reality, you know that the top 8 teams, generally speaking, are better than the next 8 (and particularly the top 2-5 in any given year). that's my opinion.
 

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let's just make it 64 teams then (the rough number of bowls). Seems fine then.

If you want 16 teams, sure fine. I don't. If team 13 vs 14 ends up as a blowout, it's not a big deal, but if the top 4 seeds all win by 30 and the next 4 seeds win one score games, you're diluting the game to unnecessary levels when in reality, you know that the top 8 teams, generally speaking, are better than the next 8 (and particularly the top 2-5 in any given year). that's my opinion.
I'm cool with 64 teams.
 
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