It will just mean less.

In today’s Mailbag ($$), Stewart Mandel nails the point I often make about the impact an expanded CFP will have on the rest of college football’s season.

No, it would not ruin college football or the regular season. It would just be a lot different. Some games would become more important than they are now; others would see their value diminished.

Take, for example, last weekend’s extremely captivating SEC championship game. It became the sport’s most-watched regular-season game in seven years. I don’t believe the viewing audience would be quite that enormous if you went in knowing both teams would be safely in the Playoff regardless and that they were essentially playing for home-field advantage.

With an eight-team playoff field, winning the SEC will be reduced to a battle over seeding.  Is that really what we want to see from the SECCG?  Not that what we want makes any difference, of course.

Mandel doesn’t see that as ruining college football.  His mileage varies from mine, obviously.  An expanded playoff is just another inexplicable step the Jed Clampetts running college football will take to erode the unique aspects of the sport that have created a passionate fan base over many decades.  The sad thing is that these people are confident they can manage a transition that will allow them to have their cake and eat it, too.

How anyone can think Larry Scott, for one, is a genius capable of accomplishing a neat trick like that — and no doubt Scott thinks he’s always one of the smartest people in the room — is beyond me.  But what do I know?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

47 responses to “It will just mean less.

  1. Bias Up Front: I am an 8 team playoff guy, mainly because I want all five P5 champs in every single year. I guess that could also be accomplished with a 6 team playoff (the five P5 champs, 6th slot to either an independent or top ranked G5).

    You are right it would have hurt the significance and impact of this year’s SEC championship game, but that is not always going to be the case. It is not always going to be so guaranteed that a 2nd SEC team would get one of those 2 at-large spots (most 8 team playoff plans I like are five P5 champs, 2 at-large, and one G5).

    An 8 team playoff would not have lessened the importance of the Big 12 championship, or would it have added to or reduced the yawnfest that was the Big10 game.

    I feel like the situation we have right now with so many P5 champs not even getting a sniff of the playoff just feels wrong. If we are going to have conferences at all in CFB, then it feels like all the champs should participate in the playoff. Otherwise it just feels a bit empty.


    • The other Doug

      What if there was another realignment and there was only 4 conferences?


      • Macallanlover

        That’s the only time 4 is the right number. Four 16 team conferences would be great, just won’t ever happen, so I’m out.


    • Texas Dawg

      I keep seeing all this about the P5 BUT according to the delusional bunch over at the American Conference, they are a POWER 6 conference. That alternate reality meshes very well with their conference champions winning last years “National Championship”.


    • What if I give you a hypothetical world where (1) Texas and OU are head and shoulders better than anyone else in the Big 12 (not at all an unreasonable given history) and (2) college football has an 8 team playoff:

      In that scenario, what is the value of the Red River Rivalry then ? I would argue it is dead. Worthless. Maybe not to the diehards, but the future of hard attendance vs. TV is going to need more than diehards. If one of the greatest rivalry games becomes a worthless exhibition in the old Cotton Bowl, how does that affect the value in being a season ticket holder. If any one game in a team’s season means so little, is the next generation going to buy-in as season ticket holders ?


      • Rocketdawg

        I am vehemently against anything more than a 4 team playoff (and I was against that initially). If you like playoffs and brackets and Cinderellas then go follow the NFL, NBA, NHL, and March Madness. The aforementioned leagues have playoffs that last a month (!!!) and of course everyone comes out of the woodwork to fill out a bracket in March.

        If you want to see what will happen to college football with bracket creep then look no further than college basketball. I used to be a huge basketball fan because the regular season mattered. Some conferences didn’t have a post season tournament so you had to win the league to get into the dance, there were also fewer slots so not as many at large teams made it. A game in November meant as much as one in February. With 68 slots and every single league guaranteed at least one the regular season means less and less. Not to mention we had a 9 seed (UConn) get hot at the right time a few years ago and win the tournament. They had 11 losses!

        Four works for football because not every conference champion deserves to be in just because they are a conference champion. The Pac-12 was terrible this year. At least 4 teams from the SEC or Big 10 could have won that league, their champion just like the champion of the AAC or Sun Belt has no legitimate claim to the national title this year. The B1G Champ lost to Purdue by 30 they didn’t deserve to be in either. We played our asses off and lost so we didn’t deserve to be in over Oklahoma no matter what Herbie has to say. The system we have has produced the most legitimate national champions since its inception. Let’s leave well enough alone.


  2. Bright Idea

    Besides all of that, while we advocate for paying the players, will somebody please think of them before expanding to 8. Can you imagine either Georgia or Bama having to immediately turn around and prepare for a quarterfinal game after that war on Saturday, during freakin’ final exams? They might both lose. Kirby would be sweating bullets too while practicing with the early signing day looming. 4 is enough I don’t care who gets left out and dropping a regular season game and/or the conference championship game just doesn’t make sense just so 4 more teams can play for a NC.


  3. Jared S.

    If there’s a 8-Team playoff, it will most likely come with the elimination of the conference championship games. The four quarter final games will be played championship game weekend.


  4. David K

    But that’s exactly what it was for Alabama, a game for seeding in the playoff. Seemed like they still cared plenty about winning.


  5. Biggus Rickus

    We’re never going back to the regional flavor that I liked about college football, and most people under 40 already don’t care about conference championships, so whatever. It’s just shouting at kids to get off your lawn at this point.


    • Not exactly, because the P5 commissioners think they can pull off the switch without compromising the support of either group you mention. Either that, or they really don’t GAS.


      • Biggus Rickus

        I think it’s your last line. As long as they think they can keep the gameday money flowing and expand TV revenue, that’s what they’ll try to do.


      • Reipar

        I think they barely GAS. Fans attending pay a lot less than tv brings in and cost a lot more to manage.


        • When coaches start bitching about the lack of a home field advantage (Looking at you, Little Nicky) or a crowd to show off to recruits, I’ll remember how they cashed those checks while the ADs and the powers that be were killing the goose that laid the golden egg. The fans that buy the tickets are the most loyal … sorry to say that to those who prefer their seats in Section HD over the stadium. When you lose the in-person fans, the game will shrivel up soon after.


          • Yep, the critical mass that turns on the TV did not build the connection that prompts them to turn on the TV by simply turning on the TV. It comes from sitting in the stadium–depending on the game and metrics, any stadium will do (meaning I will turn on A&M vs. Auburn because I am married to the experiences I had in a similar in-person experience) but the TV people are also counting on getting a top end rating inside the home state of a particular team playing.


  6. 4-team playoff doesn’t close the door on the possibility of the SECCG being nothing more than jockeying for position. If we had beaten LSU, last week’s game would have been a fight for who got the 1st seed (and got to play Notre Dame) and who got the 3rd seed (and had to play Clemson). I don’t expect that the struggle would have been any less intense.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What Fresh Hell is This?

    Just found myself laughing as I wondered how many younger readers were feverishly searching Jed Clampett.


    • Uglydawg.

      I hate to see a good man like Jed disparaged like that.
      Not many of the people that run college football would make a pimple on his ass.


      • Just Chuck (The Other One)

        Jed may not have been bright but he was rich. A very appropriate analogy.


      • Nashville West

        I agree. Jed was a pretty savvy dude. I think that the Senator should have referred to the Jethro Bodines running college football. Ignorant, stupid and with access to too much money, just like Jethro.(although Jethro was a lot more likable)


  8. Uglydawg.

    And eight game playoff would be too hard on student athletes. We already have players opting out of bowl games because of the possible injury factor. We have people on this very blog sympathizing with them..that’s fine..unless you are also advocating for still more games that they couldn’t possible opt out of because they are essential.
    Eight would be a mistake. Four is not perfect (or the Dawgs would be in) but I’m not eager to substitute imperfection for never ending calls for even more expansion. Suck it up buttercups..every year there will be people whining that their team was left out.


  9. MGW

    What we need is a more uniform product that can be more efficiently marketed. All games should fit neatly into 3 hour time slots. We need to focus on geographically expanding the viewing markets for the most profitable brands in the sport. Most importantly we need to make the sport more approachable to the casual viewer. We must be seen as making every effort to make the sport safer.

    Then, college football will finally be awesome.


  10. Bulldog Joe

    I believe the next step is with the other conferences looking to improve revenue from their championship events (which is essentially round 1 of the playoff).

    ACC and Big 10: Can we get amore compelling TV matchup (with more balance in the divisions and/or getting Notre Dame eligible)?

    PAC 12: Can we get a better location and time for the game to draw in more fans?

    Big 12: Can we expand to decrease the likelihood of a rematch?

    I don’t see the NCAA testing the anti-trust or tax-exempt waters by forcing it’s labor into another uncompensated game.


    • 1 note on the Big 12. I’ve actually been an advocate of eliminating divisions to increase frequency of intra-conference matchups BUT I’m starting to rethink my position because (and nobody seems to mention this) because so much can be said about the fact that Alabama and Georgia have NOT met in the regular season before their last two matchups. It has created squeaky clean segways.


  11. DawgPhan

    I suspect that if they worked on the regular season we wouldnt need 8 team playoffs. There are never going to be 8 teams that are title contenders. How many 1st round blowouts are people going to travel to see? Watch on TV?

    There are 375 blue chip players each season. We know that you need to be north of 50% blue chip players to compete for a national title or about 45 players on your team. That translate to about 15-16 of them each year over a 4 year period. Currently only the top 10 teams in the recruiting rankings are hitting that mark and less are doing it consistently enough to get to 50%.

    So of the 375, 165 are landing with top 10 teams. That leaves 200 blue chip players. Basically enough to support another 12 national title level teams. If all of the blue chip players consolidated into the top 25.

    There just isnt enough talent to field 8 teams in a playoff. You can extend that talent by giving guys 5 to play 5 or something like that, but 8 team playoff means 3 teams that can win it and 5 teams that have no chance.


  12. Russ

    I don’t think the overlords running CFB care about anything other than money. They have just about killed the regional flavor of CFB which is one of the things I really like. This is why going to the Sugar Bowl to play Texas is a letdown to many people (not me, but many others).

    Expanding the playoffs will make it worse, but it’s a cod-lock cinch to happen. Too much money to not happen.


  13. ASEF

    I got stuck waiting out my daughter during an OT basketball game for her school that she was watching, Listened to Finebaum on the car radio,

    He had Brando on, and Brando was foaming at the mouth over how badly the committee screwed up and how necessary an 8 team playoff was.

    Paul is an underrated interviewer and saboteur to ideas he hates. After Brando spent 5 minutes ranting about advertisers and Mickey deserving more bang for their buck and the imperative of drawing casual viewers in places like New York to a bigger, badder, playoff spectacle with wide-ranging regional appeal, Paul asked him a simple question:

    “Do you really think people who live in New York City are ever going to become passionate college football fans?”

    That’s what an 8 team playoff represents. Put another way, Brando thinks SEC passion can make more money for Disney executives and Larry Scott, and this will somehow make college football better, and then the additional assumption that this will in turn make the experience of SEC football more enjoyable for SEC fans.

    Final thought: Washington, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson (P5 champs). Notre Dame (6). For those assuming Georgia (or any SEC runner-up) will usually a shoe-in for an 8 team playoff this year, just know that your assumption this year hinges on UCF’s QB getting injured and no upset in the ACC championship game.

    This is a bad idea driven by a really poor understanding of consequences.


  14. Former Fan

    Jed Clampett should be offended at the way the you diss him in this article. Even Jethro could cipher well enough to know a football team is a pot of gold.

    Want the regular season to count more? Let the conference title games be play-in games for the 6 team playoff.


  15. It almost seems like all of the clamoring for 8 is nothing more than begging for a regulatory wealth transfer. “Our title games are poorly attended worthless affairs, our long term attendance and season ticket prospects appear flat or negative, so to hell with the SEC universities who have built huge customer bases and a compelling (and lucrative) title game, we have decided that the way we get “MORE!” of what they have will be the additional inclusion into the grand finale. Then our people will care about it more and all of our problems will be solved ! “


  16. CB

    “With an eight-team playoff field, winning the SEC will be reduced to a battle over seeding. Is that really what we want to see from the SECCG?”

    Don’t let the last two championship games distract from the fact that the four before that were a complete waste of time, and only served as potential speed bumps for teams that had already clearly established themselves as the best in the conference. Only four of the last ten involved two teams with a legitimate chance at a title.

    Also, the 2018 installment of the SECCG was the only championship game out of the five P5 championships played on Saturday that meant anything at all.

    All that said, count me as one that doesn’t really gaf about the championship game, and would much rather get rid of it, install a 9 game conference schedule, and open the season with Clemson every year.

    Not that I’m pulling for an 8 team expansion, unless of course a home field first round is in play.


    • PTC DAWG

      Ou Texas meant something…


    • DawgPhan

      They are NEVER going to play a playoff game on campus. NEVER. I can’t imagine why anyone would want that or think that it will happen.


      • CB

        Why would anyone be interested in a playoff game in Sanford Stadium? Other than the indisputable fact that it would automatically be the most important football game ever played in Athens I couldn’t really say.


        • DawgPhan

          Sure because the only place they will be playing playoff games is athens. Not Columbus, South Bend, or Ann Arbor. Even in Athens the weather can be pretty trash in December. Who wants to play the most important game ever in bad weather? Just last year most of the state was shut down because of ice in December. Wouldnt it have been awesome to see UGA and Oklahoma slog it out in 20 degrees and everything covered in an inch of ice.


          • CB

            Well tighten up your bra strap Mary, every other division in football from high school to the pros manages to pull it off. If you don’t want to go stay at home and watch on TV. I’ll take my chances.


  17. PTC DAWG

    4 is just right..


  18. Kalamazoodawg

    If it goes to 8 with automatic bids for P5, there should be a caveat that the champ have 2 losses or less. No way Pittsburgh, Northwestern, or Utah would have belonged in a playoff.


  19. The winners of the Sugar, Orange, Rose, Fiesta bowls (should involve all conference winners) are your top four seeds……get all 4 ad’s in a room, flip a quarter, heads are home teams at their venue of choice, winners of those games flip a quarter, heads you are the home team to play for all the quarters……i don’t advocate this scenario, it does get the committee out of the room….might even get me to pay attention to the conference championships (doubt it), will cause me to view the bowl game$ with more intere$t……GO DAWGS!


  20. Bulldog Joe

    Let’s put it in Larry Scott’s hands. He’s doing a wonderful job with the PAC12.