When it comes to playoff expansion, greed is good.

I give Brandon Marcello credit for honing in on what’s driving the postseason expansion train.  He flat out nails it here:

Why the change of heart? TV ratings and money. Die-hard fans do not feed the TV beast. The money drivers are the casual fans, the family who might tune in for one game a year. It’s this group that, like any casual TV viewer, grows tired of watching reruns every January in primetime.

You and I don’t matter as much in college football’s (okay, more like Mickey’s) brave new world.  It’s all about finding the most efficient way to attract the greatest number of eyeballs at the right moment.  Hearts aren’t relevant.  And our fate will matter less and less as time goes on and bank accounts grow.

But take a sec, humor me and go through all of Marcello’s expanded playoff scenarios for last season.  Do any of them really move the needle for you?  Tell me why in the comments.

65 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

65 responses to “When it comes to playoff expansion, greed is good.

  1. None of them are really good, but the one that will be selected is the Power 5 champions, 1 Group of 5 qualifier, and 2 at-large.

    Of course, this drives the final nail in the coffin of the bowl system. While the system may still be alive in the short term, it will slowly die of asphyxiation as all of the oxygen gets sucked into the playoff vortex. When there are a bunch of coaches crying about losing bowl practices due to the expanded playoff and the shutdown of many bowl games, they’ll have no one to blame but their bosses.

    Liked by 3 people

    • SCDawg

      If bowls are killed off, that may hurt the teams who can’t have the extra bowl practices down the road. Only one solution for that. A bigger playoff!

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      • The thing no one has thought about with the expanded playoff is that what happens to the teams that lose in the quarterfinals. Do they get automatically slotted into a New Year’s 6 bowl game? Will any draft-eligible player be willing to participate in that game? Will any fans be willing to drop NY6 game prices for tickets and the cost of travel for what amounts to a consolation game?

        All of this isn’t going to end well for the guys who wear the strangely colored jackets.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I guess the question is timing. If the championship games are the first weekend in December, how quickly do you have the first round of playoffs?

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      • I would assume the following Saturday on campus. Otherwise, you’re in the middle of final exams and threatening to take away the players’ ability to see their families at Christmas.

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        • Agreed, plus if you wait any later, you can’t do on campus in the Midwest. So I think you can layer it in w/o upsetting the bowls too much. But that’s a quick turnaround after Championship weekend that I hadn’t really considered.

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          • What’s going to upset the bowls is that the players don’t see bowl games as a reward any longer and that with the playoff, fans see bowl games for what they’ve always been – exhibition games at the end of the season. This whole thing really hit me 3 seasons ago when I took the family to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl against Texas. It was the first time I had been to the game since the 2003 game against Florida State. The Georgia crowd frankly sucked because we weren’t in the playoff. It clearly spilled over to the team. We acted like we deserved better. I decided then and there I wouldn’t waste my money on that type of trip.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yeah that’s already happened though. I don’t see that ever changing.

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              • I’ve enjoyed trips to Orlando and Tampa in the past. We had an awesome time at Cap One game in 2012 after losing a de facto semifinal. The team was interested in playing and winning. They celebrated like they had had an excellent season (which they had).

                The playoff has made those days gone like the wind.

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                • I’m not disputing that. It has. But I don’t see how going to 6 or 8 is going to materially change that. Maybe on the margins a few guys will care even less, but I think bowls just are what they are going forward: exhibitions.

                  Some teams will be pumped and ready to play, and some teams will be very obviously be suffering from alcohol poisoning after a night across the border in Juarez (see Lane’s USC team).

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                • I guess my point is that the quarterfinal losers might as well plan to stay home for the holidays because if you think opt-outs are a problem now, it will be a total meltdown when the playoff expands.

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                • Destructive creation I suppose.

                  You bitch about the missing headphone jack, then you get used to Bluetooth, then you’d never go back.

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                • I don’t think there’s anything creative (only destruction) about expansion of the playoff. The only tweak that needs to be made is to get rid of the committee and go to a BCS type of objective selection method over the current biased system.

                  Liked by 4 people

    • PTC DAWG

      Having 2 at large will insure that teams schedule good OOC opponents…I see that as a good thing for the sport.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t agree. Why risk a loss in an OOC game because the committee isn’t going to give you credit for a close loss?

        The only reason you see schools upping the schedule is to make season ticket packages more attractive.

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        • PTC DAWG

          You just said two at large teams would make it in. SEC especially is hard to win and get the auto bid….tougher schedule with a nice OOC win would go a long way to get an at large bid. Like UGA this year, a win vs Clemson would go a long way.

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          • Let’s say I schedule Wake instead of Clemson and win, but we lose the SECCG to go 12-1. I’m in.

            If I schedule Clemson and lose and lose the SECCG to be 11-2, will I get one of the at-large spots? Maybe.

            Which would you rather have? Sure, I would rather play Clemson and beat them, but if the playoff is my goal, does scheduling big OOC games get you there? We’ll see.

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  2. No. Why change what is working? The best two teams have played for the title every year.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      To answer your question, ESPN feels that the cfp is not working if the ratings fall over time. The goal of the cfp is NOT to determine the best team in football. It is to increase ratings, therefore advertising revenues, for ESPN, to increase money to the NY6 bowls and to increase money to the conferences.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ben

        Ratings are falling because the games don’t get played on the traditional New Year’s Day. And then the title game doesn’t start until, what, 8 or 9 eastern?

        Along with this, so many games are on upper tier cable channels, and there are LOTS of cord cutters who just don’t watch those games or take the trouble to find it.

        If a game isn’t on ESPN, network TV, or a Georgia game, I’m not gonna spend the extra effort to find it.

        There’s too much product spread across too many outlets, and more playoff games won’t fix that.

        Also, extra playoff games just give more opportunities for UGA to cough one up, so I’m not interested in that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Gaskilldawg

          I feel ya in regard to your sentiments, but my reply to Ant was not about why regular season ratings are down, or what can be done to make the final more accessible to causal fans or what you and I are interested in. . I My post was to point out that from the perspective of the outfits controlling the CFP the risk of declining ratings is a problem and from THEIR perspective the solutions are. If you have insight into what the folks running the CFP think would prevent falling ratings would be, I would love to read them. I doubt that the CFB owners think that taking the final out of prime time would help ratings. What do you think they are thinking?

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      • Biggen

        Ratings aren’t down for the playoff games. I don’t even think they are down for the run-of-the-mill bowl games. Ratings are up across the board when I looked last for all FBS postseason games.

        https://deadline.com/2021/01/college-football-playoff-semifinals-2021-tv-ratings-alabama-ohio-state-espn-1234665396/

        I think ESPN rational is “If ratings are going up now, then we need even more games! ARRRRGG!”

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      • Down Island Way

        Happy shareholders makes for happy cfp….

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    • This isn’t about making the system better, ant. This is about maximizing revenue and being more “inclusive.” The WWL is trying to nationalize what is a regional sport to attract eyeballs to the screen (especially in California and the Northeast). They know the rabid college football fan is going to consume whatever is put out there (see the viewing of the 2nd and 3rd tier bowl games).

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      • It was a rhetorical question. I know that money is behind it. I was simply answering the Senator’s question.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If they really wanted people in CA to pay more attention, they would do whatever it takes to get Clay Helton out of Heritage Hall.

        There are a lot of CFB west of Texas, but it is tough when the marquee brand out there is average as grits.

        Fix USC, fix their TV deals, and I think a lot of the rest will take care of itself. But they have to get SC back to being SC.

        Liked by 2 people

        • The WWL wants Texas and the real USC to be relevant so bad they can’t stand it. If the suits in Burbank and Bristol had it their way, the playoff would be Notre Dame, the winner of Ohio State/Michigan, Texas and Southern Cal every year. For them it would be ok if the winner of Florida/Florida State crashed the party periodically.

          Yes, Alabama and Clemson are not national draws to TV screens.

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        • Gaskilldawg

          Interesting post.

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          • The cultural anthropology and larger trends of the sport interest me. I just think there is a major misconception that there are no CFB fans out west is patently false. It’s different, sure, there they’re there.

            Now, the NE Corridor is a different conversation…

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            • The California question is a regional question. Southern California has college football with USC and UCLA. Northern California doesn’t care about college football (even with Cal and Stanford).

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              • Bay Area cares less, no doubt. The kinds of kids you need to build a sustainable football program are priced out there. Which also explains why they dominate at sports with more affluent kids.

                It’s interesting is all.

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                • I’m talking about the fan interest. A friend of mine transferred out to SF for a client from the southeast. He calls me every week during the season because no one out there talks or watches CFB. They love the professional teams, but college sports just don’t move the needle with fan interest.

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              • miltondawg

                My experience is that much of the west is fairly apathetic about college football in comparison to the NFL. My sister and BIL live in Denver. Broncos dominate any football discussion. CU and the like are an afterthought and don’t even enter the conversation. I have other family in the Pacific Northwest and it’s all NFL. College football is something for Saturdays when the weather sucks.

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    • I think it’s shaken out that way that the 2 best teams out of the 4 that got in have advanced, but the question is whether the 4 best have gotten in every year. Which I would argue is an unequivocal no.

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  3. In the interest of maximizing revenue by appealing to casual fans, they are going to make casual fans of all of us.

    To try an analogy here, college football is more and more like those groundbreaking TV shows that come out that you just can’t miss. In the interest of extending the revenue stream, these TV series get stretched out way beyond their original format and story so that the money stream can continue. The storyline becomes convoluted and the writing suffers as they try to extend the series, and everyone loses interest (see ‘Lost’ or a whole host of other examples).

    If you extend the college football season too far, the regular season loses its significance. Ah hell, those overpaid dudes in suits can’t grasp all that with their moneygoggles on. Looks like we are lining the Fonz up for that epic jump over the shark…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. otto1980

    They did that with NASCAR look where that went.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. waterswv

    It’s hard to imagine Mickey would ever let the bowls fizzle out. I liked his 8 team best format where the quarterfinals give us 4 games on campus and final 4 stays with the same format as today. Even with this people will still turn on meaningless bowl games on Dec 22nd for lack of anything else on in the background. Plus ppl will still bet on games with 0 fans in attendance.

    Would love this + adding 1-2 more SEC games and doing away with the championship.

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    • If you think the SEC is getting rid of its championship game, you don’t understand that game is probably the most valuable single college sports media property outside of the Final Four and the CFP championship game.

      When you have most of the draft-eligible players opt out of your bowl game after they lose in the quarterfinal, you’ll see the ratings continue to slip. Eventually, that leads to smaller payouts to teams, and the bowl game soon after goes under.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. junkyardawg41

    Two comments and one answer.
    1. I am not sure where the put to $400M in additional revenue number is coming from. The NY6 plus the championship game in 2018-2019 paid out $549M. I don’t see how you double the revenue by making the NY6 bowls into “Playoffs.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2020/01/09/college-football-playoff-financial-success-expansion-future/2838495001/
    2. I think playoff money is interesting until it starts to dip into conference TV money. The conferences are the driving factor for approval of the expansion.

    Not sure about needle movement but it did briefly pulse. I am intrigued by the 6 team playoff because I think it makes for more competitive games 3v6, 4v5 than a 1 vs 8. If I got a vote to preserve the regular season meaning and the playoffs, it would be that format. Blowouts don’t make advertisers happy.

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    • I think playoff money is interesting until it starts to dip into conference TV money.

      Therein lies the rub. I’ve been harping on that for years.

      The same people who presided over the March Madness expansion that led to the devaluation of the MBB regular season are calling the shots now and believe it can’t happen again — and it won’t, until it does. One thing’s for sure. Once it does, they’ll never be able to get the genie back in the bottle.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Gaskilldawg

        Agree, Senator. Another thought about the importance of conference money. The courts in O’Bannon used the competition between the conferences as the relevant market for finding that within a conference the schools may lawfully engage in forms of anti-competitive behavior.
        The NCAA better not mess with that conference autonomy!

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      • The only thing that protects college football from a bloated bracket (as the NCAA field is now) is the fact that the athletes can’t play multiple games in a shortened period unlike basketball where they can play a couple of games per weekend over a 3 week period. Assuming a championship game on the Monday a week after the semifinals around New Year’s (this year Jan 10, 2022). I assume the conferences aren’t going to give up their conference championship games on the Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend. You can play a quarterfinal round the following Saturday on campus. Then you have a final exam and holiday blackout over the next 2 weekends.

        Without taking the post-season deep into January, you pretty much can’t do something more than 8.

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    • Gaskilldawg

      I agree with you but I want to respond to your point 1. My opinion is the same as yours. Games in the round of 16 will not have the same value to television as semifinals and finals.. Neither will the first round of a 6 team playoff.

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      • junkyardawg41

        I don’t disagree. I think we have seen that even some of the semi final games that have been played in recent years have not generated the eyeballs one would think. I was only pointing out the fact that you would probably have more competitive games with teams in the 3-6 realm than you would with a 1v8. Would that make the semis any more exciting — I don’t think so. I still think most years there is a clear delineation between 1 and 2 and 3 – n.

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  7. MGW

    In a vacuum, I’d love to see any of those brackets play out. But the damage it would do to the regular season isn’t worth it to me.

    And the debate is that simple. Anyone saying the tournament itself would suck is being disingenuous, even if they’re pretty confident there would be a lot of blowouts (there would be). Anyone saying the regular season would be just fine, maybe even better, is either lying or stupid. Except to the extent that, yes, some teams will be ‘in it’ longer. But most of those teams aren’t teams anyone is really watching anyways.

    Yes a tournament would be fun to watch, yes it would badly harm the regular season. It’s a matter of which you place weight on. The name of the game today is “championship or bust” for most fans. Especially most “casual” fans, and those are the ones driving TV ratings.

    So there will be expansion, and the tournament itself will be entertaining, and the regular season and conference championships will matter a whole lot less.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. TN Dawg

    I understand THEY only want the expanded playoffs for the “I watch the National Championship game for the commercials and the pop music at half time” crowd.

    But as an actual college football fan, I still like an expanded playoff for the creation of more meaningful games late in the regular season and in post season.

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  9. Jack Klompus

    I could be talked into 12 team best format based on the teams that would be playing in this scenario. Of all of them, they produce the best games. At least in 2020

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  10. whb209

    The play-off committee has been working on this expansion for two years and has not come up with a workable system. So maybe, if we are lucky, they will continue working on this for another thirty years or so and leave us alone.

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