Alabama Football will not be as affected by an expanded CFB Playoff as most teams. There is such a small chance the Alabama Crimson Tide, under Nick Saban, will fail to make a 12-team field. The measurement for Nick Saban’s teams will remain winning a National Championship. Not doing so will always define failing to meet expectations.
For many CFB coaches, an expansion to 12 teams will mean added scrutiny and potential loss of status for themselves and their programs. Last season, Jimbo Fisher could diminish not making the final four by claiming how close his program had come. Missing the Playoff was disappointing for the Aggies, but it was far from a disaster. Finishing No. 5 in the CFB Playoff rankings offered an argument Jimbo’s program was on the upswing.
Missing out on a future 12-team field will be another matter entirely. No matter how loud the claim of being unfairly excluded, the No. 13 team and below will be irrelevant. Worse than being an also-ran, the teams outside the 12-team field will face a loss of stature. For a formerly considered top, Power Five program, missing the Playoff for successive seasons could trigger a downward spiral. The Transfer Portal will look especially attractive to players on those teams. Perhaps worse for those Playoff-missing teams, recruiting will undoubtedly slide, with elite players giving them little consideration.
Coaches will try to spin coming up short as anything other than a negative. Their most loyal fans may buy the excuses, but no one else will. As the title of this post suggests, not-Playoff head coaches will have nowhere to hide.
It won’t be just high-profile head coaches at risk. At the other end of the Playoff spectrum, many FBS teams with no conceivable Playoff chances will have little to play for in the new regular season. Those teams not in contention for a conference championship already faced a bowl game calendar tarnished by diminished prestige. The 12-team format will further erode interest in bowl games. More of them will morph into what many have already become, made-for-TV events with meager ticket demand.
Connor O’Gara writing for Saturday Down South summed up the new post-season terrain for non-Playoff teams.
The “Playoff or bust” mindset will be more realistic for a greater percentage of teams. The more the Playoff becomes like the NCAA Tournament, the more the rest of the bowl schedule starts to feel like the NIT.
Alabama Football will maintain its ‘Championship or bust’ mentality
A fair assumption is, even with a 12-team field, a small number of Power Five teams will continue to dominate Playoff fields season after season. They will be the ‘haves’ in college football. As long as Nick Saban coaches, Alabama Football will be one of them.
The rest of the FBS teams will fall into one of three categories. Those categories could be called the ‘not good enough again’ group; the ‘flash in the pan’ group and the ‘who cares’ group. More than a few of them will become the perennial ‘have nots’ of college football.
Note: The 12-team expansion proposal is still being debated. The timeframe for implementation of the final plan could slide past what we project as the 2023 season.
There are clear advantages to the 12-team expansion plan. There are some disadvantages but whatever downside occurs will have little impact on Alabama Football.