Last week, the College Football Playoff Committee announced it has begun the process of possibly expanding the playoff field in the future. Though the CFP will stick with its four-team model for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, they did look at expansion models ranging from six to 16 teams for the future.
Last year, when he was asked his thoughts on expanding the CFP, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he was not a fan of expanding, saying he was worried expanding the playoff could take away the importance of the regular season.
On Tuesday, one of Swinney’s CFP adversaries also expressed his displeasure in playoff expansion.
“I think the playoff, as I said many years ago when we had just two teams in the playoff and expanded to four, that the more playoffs we have the less significant bowl games are going to be,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on the Paul Finebaum Show. “It’s really not for me, and I don’t even think I’m capable of judging how significant the positive self-gratification that players, programs, and coaches get from being able to go to a bowl game.
“Now, everything has shifted to the four teams in the playoffs, and the bowls seem to be pretty insignificant. I think if we expand the playoff, you’re going to see a continuation of that trend where the bowl games become less and less significant. Maybe these things can’t coexist. If they’re going to coexist, maybe we should try to leave them pretty much the same.”
Another concern for Saban is playoff expansion could eliminate conference championship games, which have been in place since 1992 when the SEC was the first conference to host a title game. Saban pointed out the SEC Championship Game, in most cases has served as a de facto playoff game.
Last year’s ACC Championship Game between No. 3 Clemson and No. 2 Notre Dame fit that description as well. The Tigers had to beat the Irish to get into the playoff.
“So, you’re going to eliminate that so you can have more playoff games? Are we going to play less games in the regular season so we can have more playoff games? I think there’s only so many games in these guys,” Saban said. “They’re student-athletes. They’re not just football players. I think some of that has to be taken into consideration as well.”
Swinney gave his thoughts on CFP expansion last December prior to the Tigers’ semifinal game against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
“I think one of the reasons that college football is so popular is because every game matters,” he said. “That game we played at (Virginia Tech), it mattered. That game Florida played against LSU, it mattered.”
The main reason Swinney does not want to see the playoff expand is because it will take away the importance of the regular season, which he feels is what makes college football unique from any other sport.
“The more you expand, the less important the games become,” he said. “All of a sudden, to me, it gets watered down and teams that know they’re going to be in, next thing you know, you’re resting guys, you’re not playing guys. It all becomes about that.”
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