Alabama Football: Playoff expansion goes forward with Pac 12 rebuttal


Alabama Football fans generally favor an expanded Playoff format. More than a few Crimson Tide fans prefer no change in the current four-team format. In contrast, social media and message boards indicate a strong majority of Alabama Football fans are in favor of expansion.

Alabama Football currently sits on top of the college football mountain, but beneath it are a multitude of perspectives and agendas. An Alabama Football endorsement of the current 12-team Playoff expansion would damage it in the minds of many.

On Friday, the CFB Playoff Management Committee agreed to forward the 12-team format, proposed by its sub-group, to the Playoff Board of Managers. The Board of Managers will review the proposed plan next week. They are expected to approve the working plan.

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A not surprising hurdle surfaced on Friday. In short, the Pac 12 endorses a 12-team format but wants all the Power Five Champions to automatically qualify in the expanded field.  The concern from the Pac 12 is its conference champion may not always make the field. Based on the proposed expansion, last season, the Pac 12 Champion, Oregon would not have made a 12-team field. Instead, Cincinnatti and Coastal Carolina would have been in the Playoff.

Outgoing Pac 12 Commissioner, Larry Scott issued a statement.

"The Pac-12 supports expansion of the CFP and believes that the Autonomous Five (Power Five) champions should annually qualify for the CFP"

The use of ‘Autonomous Five’ rather than ‘Power Five’ is unintentionally symbolic. The Pac 12 argument suggests ‘lesser’ conference champions, even with a higher Playoff ranking, are less deserving of a Playoff slot than a two or three (or four) loss Pac 12 champion.

Alabama Football and other SEC programs count on Greg Sankey

SEC Commissioner, Greg Sankey has skillfully steered the four-man sub-group and now the majority of the Management Committee away from any automatic bids going to Power Five champions. That will put Sankey at odds with Larry Scott and the new Pac 12 Commissioner, George Kliavkoff, who assumes his new role on July 1.

The Pac 12 argument came as no surprise. Scott and soon, Kliavkoff must fight for the best interest of their conference. The main problem with their argument is it defeats one goal of Playoff expansion – giving ‘fair’ access to Group of Five teams.

Greg Sankey understands no fan of SEC football could be content with a system that does not reward teams based on merit. Giving preference to every Power Five champion, every year, will too often result in a weaker team taking a slot away from a stronger team. SEC teams could also suffer if merit is discarded by automatic bids.

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The Pac 12 does not have the clout to derail the current 12-team proposal. Alabama Football fans can be confident Greg Sankey and others will make sure ‘merit’ rules over false stature.