Bohls: Finally, an expanded CFP field is on the clear horizon

The College Football Playoff has been holding steady with four teams despite cries from across the country to expand the field. But expand to how many, exactly? Eight? Twelve? Or, as Mississippi State coach Mike Leach once pitched, a field of 64 teams.
The College Football Playoff has been holding steady with four teams despite cries from across the country to expand the field. But expand to how many, exactly? Eight? Twelve? Or, as Mississippi State coach Mike Leach once pitched, a field of 64 teams.

While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. There is hope. With the news that Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said he was "100%" in support of expansion for the College Football Playoff, we see some sunlight for a growing 16-team field. Executive director Bill Hancock also saw increased interest in the expanded field, but the Big Ten was a huge hurdle a year ago after the SEC began the land rush that is conference realignment by adding Texas and Oklahoma. But the announced Alliance between the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC quickly crumbled when loyalty had a one-year warranty and the Big Ten pirated away Pac-12 franchise anchors USC and UCLA. Warren told The Athletic a week ago that he was "going to soften (his) stance" regarding automatic berths for the top six highest-ranked champions, a ridiculous position since his league champion would have made the playoffs every year. I just wish all of college football would get on board sooner than later. Who knows, maybe they won't stop at 16? When Mississippi State's Mike Leach was asked about his long-ago proposal of a 64-team CFP field, the outspoken pirate cryptically said, "You may be talking about a conference playoff." Yeah, we're still against a national playoff pitting only the SEC against the Big Ten. It just means more if more teams are invited.

2. Shoe's on the other foot. The Pac-12 got its hackles up when the Big 12 boldly (if presumptuously) said it was “open for business” at its media days and new commissioner Brett Yormark, who officially took office on Monday, said the Big 12 was all-in. Well, support for a merger between his league and the Pac-12 quickly saw some roadblocks, maybe in part because Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff didn’t want to lose his job. But he wrongly said the Big 12 was trying to “de-stabilize” the Pac-12. Guess what, George. Consider your league already de-stabilized. And study your history because your friends in the Big Ten did it first and it should be noted that the Pac-12 de-stabilized the Big 12 first by wresting away Colorado and also trying to lure six teams, including Texas and OU, westward.

Golden: Texas is running out of chances for another Big 12 title, so the time is now

3. Poll positions. Filled out my preseason college football ballot over the weekend. Always a challenge and it has become even greater with the advent of the transfer portal and conference realignment. The first AP poll won’t be released to the public for two weeks, but I have one surprise team in my first four and a couple of Big 12 teams in my top 10. I’ll be very curious if Texas shows up in the preseason Top 25.

Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy turns for more yards during last year's game against Kansas. The Longhorns open fall camp Wednesday in advance of their Sept. 3 opener against Louisiana-Monroe.
Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy turns for more yards during last year's game against Kansas. The Longhorns open fall camp Wednesday in advance of their Sept. 3 opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

4. Get your scorecards. David Pierce's Texas baseball team will undergo a makeover of epic proportions this fall as he seeks to integrate two new pitching and infield coaches in Woody Williams and former Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez and also must find starters at as many as six positions, including designated hitter. But don't ask him if he's nervous. "No, I'm not," Pierce said Tuesday. "I think nervous is a negative emotion. It's kind of like frustration and creates anxiety." He'd be excused for being anxious after replacing longtime pitching aide Sean Allen, who has taken a job at Ohio State, and bringing in what he expects will be seven players from the transfer portal, including the USC battery of Charlie Hurley and catcher Garret Guillemette as well as another potential weekend starter from a California school to combine with Lucas Gordon, who'll likely be Texas' ace or No. 2 starter. Pierce also lost three of his top recruits to the pros but will look to build around outfielders Eric Kennedy and Dylan Campbell, incoming shortstop candidate Jalin Flores to perhaps fend off second baseman Mitchell Daly for that position, infielder Jack O'Dowd and Peyton Powell, "who could be an interesting piece. He's a catcher by trade and a left-handed bat but had a really good summer playing first with some third." ... Texas lost its two games at the College World Series, but Pierce said, "we've had a really good run with three trips in four (full season) years. We expect to lose all our guys drafted. It was a big blow, but we kind of knew it was coming."

Bohls: Nick Saban may not like it, but Jimbo Fisher's Aggies have arrived in the SEC

5. One ultimate summer. Congrats to Austin’s Caroline Stone, the only Texas girl chosen to the U.S. Ultimate Frisbee U-20 national team that's been practicing in Chicago and will compete in the world championships tournament starting Saturday in Poland. Team USA is the top seed and will compete against nine teams including Canada (seeded No. 2), New Zealand (No. 3), France (No. 4) and Austria (No. 5). Of course, she’s got frisbee in her blood. Her brother Hayden, who played for the Austin Sol last summer, played frisbee in elementary, middle and high school, and is also a captain of his McGill University team in Montreal, Canada. Hayden is playing professionally with the Montreal Royal this summer. Hayden's love for frisbee sparked a similar interest in Caroline, a recent graduate of Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, who chose that sport over soccer and basketball. In addition, Caroline’s father, Chris, played in college for UT and on one of the best club teams in Texas. “We both wanted to be as good as our dad was,” Caroline said. She started playing in elementary school and then made the Kealing Middle School A team. … Ultimate Frisbee plays on the FS1 channel occasionally (and the U-20 world juniors will be on ESPN), but Caroline looks for more exposure for her sport. “I imagine Ultimate will be streamed on more popular channels like ESPN more frequently,” she said. "My greatest wish is for Ultimate Frisbee to be an event in the Olympics." … Caroline plans to play this sport “until my legs give out.” Next year she'll attend the University of Vermont for a degree in environmental engineering and has been offered a spot to play on their women’s ultimate frisbee team. This year, she was given a practice player spot on the Austin Torch, the local professional women’s team. In the next few years, she hopes to make the travel roster so she can play other professional women’s teams across the country.

6. Transfer trauma. The NCAA's transformation committee made a recommendation that would allow all college athletes to transfer as many times as they wish without being penalized. That’s a bad idea because the rule needs some guardrails, just as name, image, likeness and new world collegiate athletics do. Unlimited transfers will just be too enticing for these young men and women and those who influence their decisions. However, Division I officials are expected to vote against the proposal, so that’s a positive.

7. How much is too much? Is there any chance we’ll OD on the NFL? The League is betting not, which is music to its Park Avenue ears since it just inked a deal with Amazon for a billion a year to view games on NFL+. What inflation? The Athletic reported that about 5% of NFL live-game viewership is digital. It stunned me that the figure is that low. I’d guess maybe 10-15%. Of course, we do know that the streaming audience will grow by the day, in part because cable television viewership continues to decline. That linear viewership fell from 110 million subscribers to 70 million in just over a decade. Another study from something called Graybo last year revealed that 79% of fans globally would be fine watching their favorite sports exclusively on streaming services. That sounds more reasonable. Just remember that 75 of the top 100 most-watched shows on television in 2021 were — you guessed it — NFL games.

Golden: After a spring of UT dominance, fall sports like football don't want to crash the party

8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to McCallum ex Robbie Beckett, the first-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 1990 and a flame-throwing lefty who had a cup of coffee for a couple of years with the Rockies but had troubles harnessing his control problems.

9. On the couch. Really liked “The Gray Man,” a James Bondish film starring one of my favorites, Ryan Gosling, and Chris Evans in a hip, villain role with the coolest mustache ever. Tons of great action and witty dialogue although the critics largely panned it. This thriller may not be $200 million good (its cost to make), but it’s good summertime fun. Gave it 8 ducks.

Crazy Prediction: The NFL will not appeal the six-game suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson. It wants him on the field as much as the Cleveland Browns do.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Conference expansion finally clearing the path for a bigger CFP field