Nevertheless, he persisted.

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.

Oh, goody.

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.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football, It's Just Bidness

48 responses to “Nevertheless, he persisted.

  1. J.R. Clark

    Once you let the people who run gambling into the sport, what else would you expect?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    So college football will become, like college basketball, a mere excuse to get a bet down?

    Liked by 5 people

  3. akascuba

    Cupcake sales in the SEC are going to be a lot harder when they expand the playoffs. That maybe the best upside of expansion. I’m not for expanding the playoffs. There rarely are more than four teams truly worthy. I think their greed combined with the money grab available makes it inevitable.

    Last season did confirm for me two things. I’ll keep my season tickets. However I’m done attending Cupcake victim state games. My tailgate crew has already confirm most would rather party elsewhere watching CFB.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Senator, that was a sobering account of the future of college football especially with a Group of 5 automatic qualifier. You pounded home the argument about 8. As long as Notre Dame can remain independent and keep their TV contract, there will be at-large teams (I prefer the term “wild card” – teams that proved during the regular season that they weren’t the best team in their conference or sometimes even in the division of their conference … cough, cough … Alabama 2017 … cough, cough).

    It may benefit Kirby Smart and his staff with bonuses by backing into the playoff field more often, but as a fan, I hate this because the slope it eventually leads down. Rivalries? That’s so yesterday. Conference championships? You’re so sectional. New Year’s 6 bowl game? Meaningless (we’re there now).

    Thanks for making me grumpy on a Monday morning.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Down Island Way

      As the numbers have shown through the years, college football is regional at best…fans of that team or not, they will not go to the game vs surfing, hiking, saving trees or whatever, it’s not a left coast thing, have no real desire to view one of the top ranked 4 bury anyone from the pac 12, acc, big14 or whom ever in an expanded round one (nd included)…

      Liked by 1 person

    • stoopnagle

      CFB’s regionality is what makes it great.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. 81Dog

    Consider me a bad capitalist, but expanding the CFP only makes sense from a cash standpoint. Not a competitive standpoint; 4 is about perfect, given how many semi final Blowouts occur. Not from a student athlete standpoint; extra wear and tear on “amateur” players. Not from a fan standpoint; how many extra games can people afford to attend, especially students?

    Who benefits? ESPN gets more programming. Administrators get some more cash to play with (most of which gets blown on administration).

    You can’t tell me anyone would be excited to see some G5 team get boat raced. The rest of it is lowering the bar so the Pac12 and/ND get a seat at the grownup table automatically, instead of earning one. If their academic mission collides with football competitiveness, fine. Be the Ivy League, but quit whining that your conference is deserving.

    Why do we have to genuflect to ESPN’s eternal pursuit of “the casual fan”? Just because it’s possible to wring a little more money from the suckers doesn’t mean the suckers should go along with it. Most years there aren’t even 4 teams worthy of a shot at the NC. If your team isn’t one of them, recruit better. Coach better. Play better. But CFP expansion to make the underachiever feel better and the soulless suits at ESPN richer? Nope. Screw ESPN and the Mercedes they rode in on. Games are just a bridge for ads to them. FTMFs. Just because they can, doesn’t mean we should. YMMV.

    Liked by 8 people

  6. theotherdoug

    A 8 team playoff (3 games) benefits the teams with the most depth, but that 5 star on the West coast os going to stay close to home because Oregon get get their ass kicked by Bama in the first round. Call me crazy, but I bet that 5 star goes to Bama to win championships and kick Oregon’s ass.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. timphd

    I am too lazy to do the research, but I would love to know how expanded playoffs in other sports decrease the dominance of certain teams. For example, in FCS playoffs, does having a wide number of initial qualifiers actually lead to many different teams winning, or do the usual suspects win? Same with other sports like women’s gymnastics, baseball, etc. My guess is that even though the field is more open, there are still dominant teams year in and year out, so the semi finals and finals are predominantly the same pool of a few teams. If the stated goal is to combat the dominance of Bama, Clempson and tOSU does that really happen with expanded playoffs, or are we just going to see those teams destroy some unqualified teams in the first few rounds only to see a matchup of Clempson and Bama in the finals? So what was accomplished other than making money? I know that is the goal, but I hate it.


    • silvercreekdawg

      Well, the FCS bracket expanded from 16 to 20 teams in 2008, expanding again to 24 in 2013. From 2011-2019, North Dakota State won 8 titles in 9 years.

      Liked by 8 people

  8. originaluglydawg

    Time to tell Mickey and the NCAA to GFT.
    College football is no longer about students from our school playing students from another school on campus.
    I’d love to see the ACC and SEC form a four team playoff and tell the NCAA where to stick it.
    Make their own TV contract.
    Nine times out of ten that will give you the real national champion anyway, and who cares what the left coast and BIG think or say?

    Liked by 4 people

  9. ASEF

    Yep. The people who can’t keep up with B1G and SEC money want to blow up the sport and make it something completely different.

    College basketball is a joke of a sport now. I love basketball, and I think the talent level is as high as it’s ever been – but it’s been administered into oblivion.

    A 15 team playoff is New Coke. But the son’t be able to admit the mistake and go back.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Faltering Memory

    Original, you are on the right path. Let the SEC stay out of the ever expanding playoff. When their last game is played, the SEC champion challenges their pretend champion to a steel cage playoff for a true champiion.


  11. classiccitycanine

    This is why it’s so important to me for Kirby to win a Natty in the next 2-3 years. It just won’t mean as much when the Playoff gets expanded. I anticipate the suits, in their greed, will kill the game I love before too long.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. stoopnagle

    “Watching contemporary sport means acknowledging surface reality as an interim state, prone to reevaluation, even far into the future. It requires another way of seeing…in which surface appearances are not take as reality, but as gateways to unpredictable truths. We mustn’t abandon ourselves to the ecstasy of closure, but must cultivate the more restrained delights of unknowing. There is self-denial in this way of seeing, but only in the conditions it places on euphoria sport can inspire.” – Matt Rendell from The Death of Marco Pantani


  13. godawgs1701

    Of course the Pac 12 wants to expand to 8 teams – they’re not going to be in the damn thing otherwise. All I know is that the LA Coliseum is half empty for most games even when Southern Cal is good, and the fans aren’t dumb. They know a watered down playoff when they see it. Am I supposed to believe that people in California are going to glue themselves to their TV sets to watch Washington get boat raced in the first around of an expanded playoff – and then for some reason tune in again the next two weeks because somehow they got interested in the Alabama team that dump trucked them? Come on. This will do nothing to broaden college football’s appeal, it’s got enough appeal already and no matter what you do it’s always going to matter more in the southeast than it does everywhere else. This is the same mindset as the people who are ruining baseball by changing baseball to try to appeal to people who don’t and won’t like baseball.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Bingo. Trying to alter a sport to make it more appealing to those who are not interested is folly. But the gambling crowd will provide new cash flow to the sport that they’ll have the false sense they’ve made the right decision.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. SouthsideDawg

    As one of the few hundred or so people who still watch NASCAR, the Senator’s blog post and this entire comment thread completely reminds me of how they killed the sport. All the same shit: going from regional to national, changing the rules seemingly every year, watering down the regular season for playoffs then expanding the field, etc etc etc. Now the France family is scrambling to try and save the sport while having a hard time finding sponsor $, keeping lucrative TV contracts, and getting anyone to buy a ticket. Only 10 years ago or so, AMS was packed out for 4 days. Now? not so much. Hell, the NFL is about to snub NASCAR too by putting the Super Bowl on the same day as the Daytona 500…. and there’s no uproar because they lost the passionate fans who cared about the sport.

    Liked by 6 people

    • The powers that be in sports (and most business executives) don’t understand the concept of the cash cow. Take care of the cash cow and keep your customers as good, high-profit customers. Deliver a service targeted to them and watch the cash roll in. NASCAR was likely never going to be appealing to the majority of urban America. College football is never going to be compelling to the Northeast, Silicon Valley and most of Southern California. Sell the hell out of it to the Southeast, the Rust Belt, the Midwest and Texas.

      Eventually, they kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Tony BarnFart

    But…but…everybody else has expanded playoffs and even the NBA has an 8 team play in to the 16 team playoff.

    /Yeah, and i just figured out yesterday, after the fact, what my team needed to do to be where. Regular season games get me about as hyped up as a trip to grandma’s after sunday services.


  16. mg4life0331

    I love Coach Richt. But he just hurt me a little right there.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. biggity ben

    I really don’t want a largely expanded playoff either, but I think the one thing that people are not talking about is that there is a lot more competition outside of that top 4 group. In other words, everyone uses the example of XYZ PAC12 team getting boat raced by Bama in the playoff. But, the reality is there are only a couple of teams that can do that to other teams per year. If UGA/Cincy was a round 1 game last year, it would have been lauded as a playoff success story game. Yes, the dominant team that year will likely do what they always do, but if there are 16 teams, there will be a lot of competitive games and that would be easily marketable.


  18. RangerRuss

    I can see it now. Dawgs beat the snot out of Bama to win the SEC with their Heisman winning QB. 13-0. Then the QB takes a cheap shot ending his season against the #8 team in a quarter-final blow out. Dawgs lose in the semi-finals or finals. I’ll go apeshit.
    Four teams is plenty.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. timberridgedawg

    How much money is this round of 16 bringing in such that every P5 team and town give up the revenue of a home game? Especially, the ones with the big fan bases and stadiums? So that some G5 school and a few regional slackers ranked in the top 20 can get an ass whipping in Round 1?

    Can’t wait to see Wisconsin miss out on trip to the Rose Bowl to get trashed in early December in a playoff game and then stay home for the holidays.


    • The problem is they won’t stay home for the holidays. The quarterfinal losers in a 6 or 8 team bracket will get sent to a non-playoff NY6 game. The problem will be whether they have a single player interested in playing. The Go5 loser in an 8-team format is likely interested, but no one else.


      • Are you saying a playoff team that loses in the first round is going to play in a bowl game afterwards?


        • Yes, if the schools can get away with it. Coaches’ wives need a new pair of shoes with those bowl bonuses. If the school loses in a quarterfinal played the week after conference championship Saturday, those coaches are going to want those bowl practices as well.


  20. miltondawg

    I am against expanding the playoff. Absolutely and completely. When the playoff started I was excited thinking about a move to eight teams. At this point, it has been pretty much shown that it really isn’t that hard to pick the four best teams. And I would err on the side of occasionally leaving out a deserving fifth place team rather than adding teams that have no business being on the same field of play as the 1 or 2 or 3 seed.

    In fact, and I know it would never happen, but I would rather see the P5 conferences agree that the playoff money is split between the five of them so that the Pac 12 gets money than automatically have a league get a bid to a tournament that only once since its inception did it have a legitimate team in.


  21. I have a subscription to The Athletic, and when ‘Bama won that blowout this year, the comment section in the main recap was full of fans of other teams complaining about another boring game, and their solution was expanding the field. No I responded to could explain how adding teams worse than Ohio State and Clemson were last year would have made the game more competitive. They just wanted to complain about the boring (to them) game and the fact that it was the same old teams, but they didn’t have any solution other than to make it worse.

    It saddens me that the folks in charge are going to listen to those complainers and act based on their suggestions.


  22. Munsoning

    Y’all who know more about bidness correct me if I’m wrong, which I probably am, but doesn’t expansion tend to fail when a long-established company alienates its core customer in pursuit of the casual (i.e., fickle) fan? This is why Brooks Brothers, once the great American clothing brand, recently filed for bankruptcy. Mickey had better be careful. If it keeps trying to make what’s regional, national, the die-hard fans are going to rebel, big-time, and there won’t be enough casual fans to replace them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 69Dawg

      As pointed out above “See NASCAR”.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Not sure I would agree that’s what has happened to Brooks Brothers … the effects of the pandemic on their business (work attire – casual or professional) have hurt all of the companies whose primary customer is working remotely now.

      This is a different problem … NASCAR is a better example.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Munsoning

      Should’ve written “casual (i.e., fickle) consumer” in that first sentence. D’oh.


  23. TN Dawg

    Dumping a big rivalry game like UMass or Nichols State in favor of a playoff game is madness!