CHARLOTTE — Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and North Carolina’s Mack Brown have both been outspoken on their and their players’ feelings about an expanded College Football Playoff.
Swinney said at his annual gathering with the local Clemson media on Tuesday he was not in favor of expanding the playoffs from four teams to 12, saying the main objective can be achieved with four teams just as much as 12. He also stated most of his players were against expanding the CFP.
Brown brought up similar concerns from his players earlier this month.
During his Commissioners Forum, as part of the 2021 ACC Football Kickoff Wednesday from the Westin in Uptown Charlotte, new ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said there is a concern on his part, as well, and he has heard the issues brought up by the ACC’s two most prominent head coaches.
“I don’t want anybody to foreclose either good or bad on the playoff,” he said. “We are still learning about the playoff and the football coaches today are going to get to see the CFP presentation. And so, they may feel exactly the same way and I respect so much Mack and Dabo. They are two of our tremendous coaches. They have incredible experience.”
On June 22, the CFP board authorized the management committee to begin a summer review phase that will engage other important voices about expanding the playoff from four teams to 12. This will include many people on campuses, such as student-athletes, athletics directors, faculty athletics representatives, coaches, and university presidents and chancellors.
The board will reconvene in September to discuss what they learned in this phase of the expansion process.
“I had a Wednesday noon call (after the announcement) with our head football coaches and I asked them to do a few things,” Phillips said. “Get together and talk about it and discuss how they feel about it … to your point about too many games, length of the season, health and safety issues. What does it do to the regular season? All of those things.”
These are things Clemson knows all too well. The Tigers have played either 14 or 15 games in each of the last six seasons, as they made their run as one of college football’s elite teams.
Clemson is the only team to play in six straight CFPs.
“As importantly, we talk to the student-athletes and get a feel and a read. And you are starting to see that,” Phillips said. “I saw Coach Swinney’s press statements yesterday and I have seen Coach Brown’s. I have talked to both of them pretty regularly and I will see them here later today and tomorrow.
“So, those are real concerns, but I think we have to be open-minded to it and it does not mean we are going to support (the CFP expansion). But to answer your question on if it will influence us? It will certainly influence us. It will influence President [Jim] Clements, who ultimately has one of the votes. I want to socialize this process and I want us to socialize the proposal. I want it to be transparent. I want us to be able to hear from those constituent groups—student-athletes and coaches—and then try to make an educated (decision), have an educated position for our conference.”
Phillips does not want everyone to get too wrapped up in all the challenges because he says there are some great things that come with expanding the playoff, as well.
“There are some terrific things about access and opportunity. The sport has access to three percent of the schools playing football,” he said. “Most of our other sports are around twenty percent and above. Men’s basketball is at nineteen percent, but baseball, soccer and others are there.
“And so, there is debate to this thing, which is great. We need that, so I look forward by September, as we get ready to have another CFP meeting, having the ACC have a position on where we stand.”