As support for expanding the College Football Playoff rapidly grows, at least one prominent coach made it clear on Friday that he is against expanding the current four-team model.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked how he felt about expanding the playoff on Friday, just days after several influential people in the college football world — including Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby — told The Athletic that they think expansion discussions will happen before the current contract expires in 2026.
Instead of supporting expansion like many throughout the sport, though, Swinney went a step further in the opposite direction.
“I’d be more [going] back to two [teams], to be honest with you,” Swinney said on Friday. “I’m not a ‘more is better’ guy. I know there’s a huge crowd out there for that, but I think that college football is unique, and now all of a sudden it just becomes like everything else when you [expand].”
Now, Swinney isn’t going to get his way and see the system revert back to just a single championship game with two teams. That’s just not the way college football is trending, and would likely cause more harm than good.
Swinney also hasn’t had to deal with being left out of the College Football Playoff in recent years — which is something that has largely driven the expansion conversation. The Tigers have now made the playoff four straight years, and won the championship in 2016. After an undefeated season this year, Clemson is now set to take on Notre Dame in the semifinals at the Cotton Bowl on December 29.
The current system is clearly working for them — which explains in part why Swinney wouldn’t want it changed.
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He did, though, make a case for the bowl games left outside of the playoff — which he thinks will rapidly decrease in value with an expanded playoff.
“I think it’s awesome that you have 34 teams who get to end their season on a positive note and build some excitement going into the offseason,” Swinney said. “I love that about college football. I love all the funky matchups. I love the Funky Cold Medina Poulan Weed Eater Bowl and wherever. I love all of that. I like the crazy games. There’s obviously a market for it because them TVs love to put it on there. I love the trips I’ve experienced as a player and a coach. I’m more traditional when it comes to that.”
“I hate the fact that all of a sudden now it’s not cool to go to the Gator Bowl. Are you kidding me? I don’t like that mindset,” Swinney added. “I think the more you expand, then the more that becomes [normal]. I know that falls on a lot of deaf ears and all that. It doesn’t mean I’m right. That’s just my opinion.”
Sure, games like the Gator Bowl would become less and less important with a larger playoff. But that’s happening now anyway. The majority of attention surrounding the college football postseason has already shifted largely to the playoff and away from the smaller bowl games.
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And when the current system is leaving out playoff-worthy teams — like Georgia, Ohio State, Washington and UCF, to name a few — it’s worth at least exploring expanding the current model, not moving in the other direction.
While he said he would embrace the change when it comes, Swinney simply isn’t ready personally for a larger playoff field.
“I love the passion of college football,” Swinney said. “I think the more you expand, the less the season matters. It just don’t matter … I think that will creep in more and more. I don’t get a vote, but that’s my opinion. But whatever, if we expand, I’ll embrace that.”
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