I know, I know. Resistance is futile. Just ask Mr. BetMGM.
Incoming Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff introduced himself to the world of college sports by taking one particularly notable position.
The College Football Playoff needs to be expand beyond its current four-team format, he said.
“I was not expecting to make news,” Kliavkoff told AP in a phone interview after his introductory new conference Thursday.
“But if you’ve been paying attention the last couple of weeks to the moves that have been made both in announcements related to the contemplation of the expansion of college football playoffs and also some of the NIL legislation and timing … I thought on both of those it was important to get our positions at least publicly announced even if they are not solidified in detail,” he said.
… When Kliavkoff officially succeeds Larry Scott and takes over as Pac-12 commissioner on July 1 he also gets a seat on the CFP management committee with the rest of the FBS conference leaders.
Kliavkoff enters the CFP discussion with the clear goal of being an agent for change, armed with an already developed argument for expansion.
“I look forward to working with those colleagues, but the way it is structured today, where 3% of the athletes get to participate and 71% of the bids go to four schools is a broken model,” he said. “And it’s not good for college football fans unless you happen to be a fan of one of those four schools. And I would say even then it’s not great. It’s certainly not good for student-athletes. It’s really not good for the Pac-12.”
Hey, he’s already got the “doing it for the kids” excuse down pat. Quick study.
Look, I know playoff expansion is inevitable. There’s too much money and vested interests in said money for it not to happen. Just look at Kliavkoff’s priorities: it’s not good for the fans, it’s not good for student-athletes… but it’s really not good for his conference.
And that’s what’s going to fuck up expansion for the rest of us. Here’s what I mean by that. Basically, there are two ways to structure a playoff. One, I’d call objective. You win a division, or have a good enough won-loss record and you’re in. That’s the way pretty much every organized sport runs their tournaments.
Then, there’s college football. Instead of a fixed standard, there’s a process where somebody (or some computer) decides which teams are the best and those teams are playoff bound. It’s something that’s evolved out of college football’s historical past and it’s part of the sport’s quirky charm.
What the geniuses who run college football are about to do is foist a hybrid subjective/objective set up on us that’s going to set up a negative feedback loop guaranteed to bring even more expansion. What I mean by that is an eight-team playoff field comprised of the five P5 conference champs, the top rated G5 team, plus two more at-large teams (in most seasons, one of those will be Notre Dame) is going to give us the worst of both worlds in that we’re bound to get some conference champs that are worse teams than some of the teams passed over because there aren’t enough at-large spots to accommodate them. That will go over well in certain quarters.
Of course, the P5 and their partner in crime, ESPN, are going to push this as a boon for us. Watch the national interest bloom!
This is the exact same thought I had when I heard Kliavkoff make his push.
No. But that’s not really what expansion’s about. It’s about getting the casual fan to buy into the playoffs, the way he or she has bought into March Madness and brackets. That this new setup is inherently unstable is a feature for the suits, not a bug. If the grumbling at eight is loud enough (and it will be), they can go to twelve. Of course, giving the top four seeds a bye is only going insure that those top four seeds dominate the playoff field, so the only way to fix that will be to go to sixteen, which is where I see things headed.
For those of you who think college football would find sixteen a bridge too far, you’re missing how much the emphasis will change from the regular season to the postseason. They’ll happily dump a regular season game to add that extra round of playoff games.
The only thing I’ll find amusing about that whole sad affair is how shocked people like Greg Sankey will be to find that fan enthusiasm for the regular season declines as attention shifts to what will be marketed as the thing that really matters. It just means more, indeed.
Y’all enjoy! I know Kliavkoff will. And his bosses will, even more.
UPDATE: 16-team playoff? Mark Richt says “hold my beer”.
Richt’s idea is for 32 teams, involving more programs, but likely also affecting the regular season more.
“You would have to shorten the regular season, which would make some people crazy,” Richt said. “But if there was that type of (32-team) playoff system, there would be a lot of revenue, and that would lead to more revenue sharing across the board that would compensate for not having that extra game or two.”
That’s one way to make sure a Georgia coach doesn’t get fired.