College Football Playoff expansion will not be among the high-priority topics discussed this week, when the committee meets in North Texas. So reports ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson, who quotes ACC commissioner John Swofford as expressing a change of heart from last year.
“Four is where we should be at this point,” Swofford told Adelson. “I made some comments earlier that from a pure football standpoint in a vacuum maybe you’d want eight and have all five of the power conference champions and then three at-large selections, but I don’t think that’s reality in college athletics.”
The first four-team tournament was indeed a rousing success from all angles: the games provided excitement, television ratings were astronomical and the format immediately disproved the old BCS model, with No. 4 seed Ohio State dominating on its way to the national championship.
The only two programs with valid gripes about being excluded — TCU and Baylor — had equally valid arguments to be left out. Baylor played a weak nonconference schedule, and TCU blew a 21-point lead to lose to said Baylor team. The Big 12 was also forced to lie in the bed it made with a 10-team conference and no championship game.
Ancillary elements of the Playoff were also an improvement over the BCS. Under the old system, a two-loss Boise State team wouldn’t have sniffed a Fiesta Bowl bid, let alone received one. But with the Group of Five automatic access bid, the Broncos played in and won the Fiesta Bowl for a third time, beating Pac-12 South champion Arizona.
Interesting facet of Swofford’s above statement about at one time favoring an eight-team College Football Playoff expansion is his suggestion of the Power Five champions all receiving bids (cool) with three at-large bids (not as cool, especially if you’re Group of Five).
Personally, when the topic of College Football Playoff expansion is again broached — and the first time a season like 2008 occurs, you can bet it will — I prefer a system that includes an automatic bid for the top Group of Five team.
Until then, it’s tough to consider the College Football Playoff anything other than a huge success. And as the committee convenes this week, let’s hope they avoid tinkering with it.