Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby: 'Appropriate' to think about expanding the College Football Playoff

Should the College Football Playoff expand to more than four teams? (Getty Images)
Should the College Football Playoff expand to more than four teams? (Getty Images)

Is the groundswell of support for an expanded College Football Playoff beginning?

The playoff is entering its fifth season as a four-team bracket. Expanding to either six or eight is the logical next step and has been advocated for by many observers of the sport. But that advocation hasn’t happened among the sport’s power brokers. At least until now.

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Multiple influential college football people quoted in a story published Wednesday in The Athletic think discussions regarding a playoff expansion will happen sooner, rather than later. Those people include Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

“It’s an appropriate thing to begin thinking about,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Athletic this week.

There have been a number of informal conversations involving college football’s most important power brokers in recent weeks and months. The growing concern is that a system designed to nationalize the sport of college football — including a championship game that is played at different venues and will be held in the Bay Area for the first time this season — is being undermined and regionalized with teams from the Southeast regularly playing each other.

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Bowlsby wasn’t the only one on the record about playoff expansion either. Former College Football Playoff committee member and current Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said that “everyone” has the same feeling that expansion is “inevitable.”

It’s worth wondering how loud expansion whispers would have been if Georgia would have edged out Oklahoma for the No. 4 spot in the playoff. A Bulldogs appearance in the CFP would have meant the second-straight playoff with two SEC teams. And it would have left teams from the Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten on the sidelines as Notre Dame is also in the playoff.

Leaving three of the Power Five conferences on the playoff sideline would have been a likely impetus for change. But maybe college football’s power brokers didn’t need that scenario to start talking about an expanded playoff.

Those are conversations that are long overdue. And if anyone needs a template for how an expanded playoff could be formatted, Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel provided an example just a couple of weeks ago.

If the conference championships were scrapped, here’s what we could have instead, using five automatic bids for the major conferences, three at-large bids and home sites for the first round:

No. 8 Washington at No. 1 Alabama, yes, in Tuscaloosa.

No. 7 UCF at No. 2 Clemson, yes, in Clemson.

No. 6 Ohio State at No. 3 Notre Dame, yes, in South Bend.

No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 4 Georgia, yes, between the hedges.

The idea sounded pretty good on Nov. 26. It sounds even better now there’s a sliver of hope that college football could be changing up its postseason fairly soon.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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