Monday, July 23, 2018

Big Ten coaches share their opinions on expanding the College Football Playoff

Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski- USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO­— One can make the argument that college football’s regular season is the best in North American sports. On the other hand, the sport’s postseason system has always been under scrutiny in one form or another.

While the current College Football Playoff system begins its fifth season, the games are decided on the field with an undisputed national champion as opposed to some of the previous systems— the Bowl Championship Series (1998-2013), Bowl Alliance (1995-97) and Bowl Coalition (1992-94), one issue has always been what the sweet spot is in terms of the number teams that would make the CFP a perfect system for everyone.

The debate has grown in the last couple of seasons, but more fuel continues to be thrown to the fire as coaches Scott Frost (Nebraska), James Franklin (Penn State) and Jim Harbaugh (Michigan) addressed their views on the CFP during Big Ten media days on Monday.

“Getting it to four teams was an improvement, but it's hard to look at last year's college football season and not feel like an eight-team playoff isn't where we should go,” Frost said. “I think that's my opinion. I think it should be five conference champions and three at-large teams. That would give a surprise conference champion that plays well at the end of the season a shot. It might give a team like we had at UCF last year a shot.”

Franklin shared a different viewpoint than Frost and thinks the current four-team playoff format works.

“I like the current [College Football Playoff] system. I'm going to be honest with you, I didn't have a whole lot of problems with the system before it,” Franklin said. “I think one of the things that I think is probably the biggest challenge with the system that we're in is it's subjective. And I think whenever you have a subjective system like we do, you want to control as many of the variables as you possibly can.”

Harbaugh went straight to the point on how the playoff system could expand.

"I guess the first thing that comes to mind is more would be more,” Harbaugh said. “More would be better in the playoffs. Four right now, go to eight and eventually get to 16.”

Big Ten teams in the CFP:

Since the four-team format started in the 2014 season, the Big Ten has gone 2-2, but has not made the playoffs in the last two seasons. Here are the results of each of the four games:

2015 Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 1 Alabama 35

2015 CFP National Championship Game: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 3 Oregon 20

2015 Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Alabama 38, No. 3 Michigan State 0

2016 Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Clemson 31, No. 3 Ohio State 0

Only time will tell this season if a Big Ten team can put together enough quality wins and not lose a pair of games in the process to get back into the CFP, but until then, the debate will continue and grow with each and every passing day.

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