Count ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit among those who are not a fan of the current four-team College Football Playoff format.
“Let’s be honest, college football to me, the regular season is fantastic. The postseason is one of the worst that we have right now in sports,” Herbstreit said on ESPN on Thursday. “And so, you imagine a championship with over 130 teams, and really before the season starts, there’s really about six or seven teams that have a legitimate shot at making a run at it. That’s not fair. It’s not fair to the players, it’s not fair to the coaches, the fans who watch the games and care so much about their teams.”
Given his sentiments on the four-team playoff, Herbstreit was excited Thursday when news broke that the College Football Playoff management committee will consider expanding from the current model to a 12-team model when it meets in Chicago next week.
“When we left the BCS and we ended up going from two to four, I was a bit concerned,” Herbstreit said. “And now that we’ve lived it and we’ve kind of felt it for a number of years, I think this is inevitable and I think it’s for the best.”
Under the proposed format, the new playoff would include the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six remaining highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP selection committee. No conference would qualify automatically and there would be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.
Additionally, the four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded one through four and receive a first-round bye.
Herbstreit said he has “come full circle” on the idea of an expanded playoff.
“I’ve really looked at this as something that Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama … It seems like every year we could sit here in 2021, 2022, 2023 – those three teams are in, who’s going to be the one team to join those three teams?” Herbstreit said. “I don’t know how healthy that is for college football. I just think that’s something the decision makers have said. This is going to allow more teams an opportunity to compete.”
Herbstreit added that the players he has talked to are on board with an expanded playoff.
“The players are fired up because they want an opportunity to play in ‘meaningful games,’” he said. “By going to 12, you’re going to open this thing up to now you’re going to be into November and even early December, and if you’re in the top 20, you’re theoretically still playing games to try to have a chance to who knows, teams get beat in front of you and you could still maybe make a run.”
One player on his sons’ team, K.J. Henry clearly demonstrated he disagrees with Herbstreit on Twitter when the news broke.
Either you good enough to make it or you not 👎🏾 ….. what yall think??? https://t.co/EvZvDnedF2
— KJ Henry (@thekjhenry) June 10, 2021
Herbstreit believes non-Power Five teams could be the “big winner” of postseason expansion.
“This is not the Power Five – plus, let’s make the American the sixth – this is open up to anybody,” he said. “If somebody from the American were to make a run and be considered one of the top six teams as champions, they would be in. You could look at Conference USA or the MAC, any of these conferences, the Mountain West, anybody who might get hot. In the past, they’d be banging their head against the wall because realistically, they’d have no chance of getting into the top four. Now, they will have a legitimate chance, and I think that’s going to be exciting and something that a lot of people have been bringing up, the fact that it’s unfair, the system is unfair.”
Herbstreit doesn’t expect the playoff to be expanded until at least 2023.
“Don’t think that this is going to happen obviously in 2021, more than likely not in 2022,” he said. “I think the fastest they could get this thing turned around … You still have to get the bowls to sign off on this, you’ve got to get ESPN to sign off on this. My guess would be the 2023 season would be the fastest they could get this thing turned.”
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