When I blather about how playoff expansion dilutes the importance of the regular season at college football’s peril, this is exactly what I’m talking about.
If there’s a downside, however, it’s the perception that all the focus in college football is now on the Playoff. It has added pressure to coaches and athletics directors, and it has diminished games like the Rose Bowl when it’s not hosting the semifinals, not to mention the dozens of minor bowls that don’t involve playoff teams.
“That’s tough for a lot of people, and the pressure aspect isn’t going to slow down,” Livengood said. “It’s trite to say this, but if you’re not one of the four that doesn’t mean you didn’t have a good year. But a lot of things now seem to be measured on, are you one of the four in the playoff? And that’s kind of sad, but from a media standpoint you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. That’s done.”
The use of the word “if” in the first line should tell you that Wolken is an unabashed fan of the CFP, and more power to him for that. But even as he spends much of his time in the article making the case for the current format, he leaves you with awkward explanations like this:
Now we talk about committees more than polls. Games aren’t just games, they’re “data points.” While the regular season has strengthened, rank-and-file bowl games have been weakened. Strength of schedule is a fact of life. The separation between Power Five and everyone else has become codified in both revenue and in the NCAA’s “autonomy” rules, largely based on the CFP’s existence. And conferences — at least in the Big 12’s case — have gone through existential crises born out of its failure to make the playoff in two out of three years.
Be still, my heart. Just think what somebody will be able to write ten years from now when the discussion has moved on to eight versus sixteen in the playoffs.