If you were ever on the fence as to why decisions are made in college athletics, the proposed 12-team playoff should give you the concrete answer you’re looking for.
Greed. When it comes to college sports, nothing matters more than the almighty dollar.
According to an announcement made on Thursday, the College Football Playoff is looking to expand its current four-team format to a 12-team playoff.
“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the members of the four-person working group said in a statement. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”
It’s absolutely ridiculous, but in no way unexpected from the money-hungry entity that is college athletics.
When it’s about making money, things get done. No concern over lawsuits, antitrust or competitive balance. When it’s about sharing access to money, nothing gets done. Hmmmm…. https://t.co/Uxn6WrtNSX
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) June 10, 2021
The proposal recommends the six highest-ranked conference champions receive a playoff berth, with the six remaining spots going to at-large teams. According to Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger, the four highest seeds would have a bye in the first round.
As stated on the College Football Playoff website, “The four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded one through four and each would receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 would play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 would host #12; team #6 would meet team #11; team #7 would play team #10; and team #8 would meet #9.) Under the proposal, the quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games. The championship game would continue to be at a neutral site, as under the current format.”
The four-team playoff has been a wild success for College Football. It replaced the outdated and flawed BCS system, and gave additional teams a chance to play for the National Championship. It added intrigue, money, and additional football games for the fans to enjoy.
And yet, college football just can’t help themselves from ruining a good thing.
While the 12-team proposal will address the biggest issue of the current format — four playoff teams with five major conferences leaves one conference out — it’s going too far. Why can’t we start with an eight team playoff and see how that works? How many football games can unpaid college football players be expected to play?
The proposal caught the eye of two senators — Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) — who hammered the idea of a 12-team playoff.
“The only guaranteed outcome of an expanded playoff field and longer season is more league profit that the players won’t see a dime of – it’s just another cash grab,” Blumenthal told USA Today Sports. “I doubt if the fact that this will increase the risk of player injury even came up.”
“This is another example of the big-time college sports executives and administrators making decisions just to increase their own revenue, while continuing to put the needs and health of college athletes on the back burner,” said Murphy.
“It’s crazy that the athletes who create the product have zero say in a decision as big as this, and will get none of the millions in profit that will be created by additional games. This is exactly why I introduced legislation that would help these athletes organize and collectively bargain for themselves.”
The idea that college football is concerned about player safety has always been laughable, but it just went straight out the window. For example, Clemson played 12 regular season games in 2019, an ACC Championship game, and two playoff games. That’s a total of 15 games. Under the new proposal, Clemson — if not granted a bye — could play as many as 17 games in a season, with all that additional money going to the schools.
The proposal will also significantly water down the college football regular season and give certain conferences — the SEC in particular— an opportunity to dominate the playoff. With additional playoff spots available, teams like Alabama won’t need to win the SEC championship in order to get into the playoffs, and with the incredible talent that Nick Saban recruits, will have no problem rolling through the tournament even if they aren’t a top seed.
The current system is locked in for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, so the earliest year we could see a 12-team playoff format will be the 2023 season. And while the proposal is simply a recommendation, the change is going to happen whether I like it or not. But that doesn’t mean I can’t scream from the rooftop at its absurdity.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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