All-SEC Title Game, UCF Exclusion Adds To CFP Expansion Debate; No Changes Expected
Alabama and Georgia play for the CFP title tonight in Atlanta, and this year's playoff "feels ... different," as it might be the "year the Playoff's three-year honeymoon ran out," according to Stewart Mandel of THE ATHLETIC. The college football world has "wanted an eight-team (or larger) Playoff field since before there was even a four-team event." The controversies of the first three seasons were "relatively muted compared with this season." Mandel: "Part of it is the UCF factor." Then there is the "SEC factor." Alabama's inclusion in the CFP this year has "frustrated some because it comes in a season when even figures within the SEC admit the rest of the conference ... was down." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby have now "seen their champions excluded at least once." There is a "sense of disinterest" in tonight's title game "due to Alabama/SEC fatigue." And given UCF's "promotional blitz to seemingly undermine the game -- will some of the sport's power brokers now be motivated to push for an expanded field?" Mandel: "The short answer: Nope." Scott said of the CFP, "By any measure, the College Football Playoff has been a tremendous success and was well designed. There's nothing that happened this year that was a surprise to anyone involved or wasn't contemplated as a possibility." SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said, "I don't believe something that happened this year changes the bracket" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/8).
HAPPY WITH CURRENT FORMAT: ESPN.com's Heather Dinich wrote the CFP's management committee, which is comprised of the 10 FBS Commissioners and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick, are in "unanimous agreement that the CFP should not expand beyond four teams right now." AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said, "I'm not there yet. I am open to the notion, but I'm not campaigning for it. The last thing I want to do is give anyone the impression I'm campaigning to expand it, because I'm not. I'm happy with the four." Scott said, "I don't really think it's going to be a topic of conversation." Dinich noted the commissioners, university presidents and CFP selection committee members are all in Atlanta for a meeting today "before the game." They also "had dinner together" last night at the College Football HOF. No changes to the system are "expected, and none of the commissioners voiced any major concerns in separate interviews this week." ACC Commissioner John Swofford said, "We're right where we should be at this point in time" (ESPN.com, 1/7).
FOUR SCORE: In California, Jeff Miller writes a four-team field "doesn't constitute a tournament worthy of distinguishing supremacy over the entire country." It is still "staggeringly absurd that college football's first four also is its final four, its only four, a field too exclusive this year to include the lone team that finished undefeated" (O.C. REGISTER, 1/8).