Expanded CFP gives players more to play for
Turning more bowls into playoff games would give more players a worthy reward for risking millions in potential future earnings to participate in the postseason.
Players opting out of bowl games became the underlying theme of New Year’s Day in college football, which was a shame because the games themselves were entertaining — even with some missing Allamericans.
Oklahoma State’s Fiesta Bowl comeback against Notre Dame was thrilling. The Rose Bowl between Ohio State and Utah was epic. Still, it was hard to watch them without wondering how much better it would if these teams were playing with a chance to win a national championship.
While Friday’s Orange and Cotton bowl blowouts could lead some to suggest that a four-team playoff is more than enough to determine the best team in the country, that’s not the point of expansion.
The 12-team playoff proposal that conference commissioners will try to push across the goal line next weekend Indianapolis —
a day before Alabama and Georgia meet for the national title on Jan. 10 — is designed to create more high-stakes postseason games that will get players, coaches and fans more invested in their outcomes.
In the eight-year history of the College Football Playoff, no prominent player has ever opted out of a semifinal.
That fact eluded ESPN’S Kirk Herbstreit when
he started a daylong takefest on Twitter with an ohthese-kids-today rant on “College Gameday.”
“I just don’t understand if you don’t make it to the playoff, how is it ‘meaningless’ to play football,” Herbstreit said Saturday. “Isn’t that what we do as football players, is we compete? I don’t know that expanding it is changing anything. I really don’t.”
He added: “I think this era of player just doesn’t love football.”
It was a tone-deaf comment, for sure.
The risk/reward calculation for unpaid college players understandably leads many to pass on one last moment of collegiate glory.
Plenty of players still choose to play.
The most prominent of those on New Year’s Day was Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral, a potential first-round pick who decided to suit up for the Sugar Bowl against Big 12 champion Baylor. The Rebels and Bears are two more teams that would have been in a 12-team field if that system was in place.
Corral deciding to play was understandably the story of the game and ESPN’S broadcast crew of Joe Tessitore and Greg Mcelroy gushed with praise for the junior — who was then injured in the first quarter.
Corral watched the second half from the sideline on crutches, rooting on his teammates and encouraging his replacement in Baylor’s 21-7 victory.
Corral’s actions were admirable and it was relieving to hear from Coach Lane Kiffin after the game that X-rays on the quarterback’s ankle showed no broken bones.