The idea of a separate playoff for schools outside of the Power Five conferences sure doesn’t seem like it will progress to anything more.
In December, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said discussions about the idea had happened and it was “time to have a realistic conversation” about a playoff for non-Power Five teams. In the three years of the College Football Playoff, no non-Power Five team has made the final four and Group of Five schools are allotted just one of the 12 annual spots for New Year’s Six bowl games.
Wednesday, Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo was asked about the idea as he discussed Navy and the American Athletic Conference’s standing within college football. After asking who brought the idea up (and being told it was Frazier), his response was pretty simple.
“I’m not into that,” Niumatalolo said. You can view a full video of the conversation at the Annapolis Capital Gazette.
Niumatalolo: I have no idea who came up with the Group of 5 playoff idea, but #NavyFootball is not interested in anything like that.
— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) March 21, 2017
MAC commissioner John Steinbrecher told Dr. Saturday in January that “The logistical ability of doing [a separate playoff] is, from where I’m sitting, almost impossible.” With the departure of Tom Herman to Texas, Niumatalolo is the most recognizable non-Power Five coach in the country. His words have some weight, especially when it comes to an event that Navy would typically be a top contender for.
Niumatalolo was also blunt when it came to the AAC’s push to be considered more with the Power Five conferences of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC than with the likes of Conference USA and the Sun Belt. AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has tried to coin the term “Power Six” and said in October the league would “ramp up” its efforts on the labeling front if the Big 12 didn’t take any AAC schools in expansion.
The Big 12 didn’t expand and Niumatalolo said wins over teams from the Big 12 (like Oklahoma) and other Power Five conferences will do more than a marketing push.
“We have this discussion, we’ll have it in May [at conference meetings] with all the AAC coaches and we’ll have the marketing people come in try to show us the new logo for the AAC and the TV people come in and do all that — We’ve got to win. and bottom line for our conference, we’ve got to beat people out of conference. We’ve got to beat Power Five schools. And I think what’s happened, is our conference is doing that and I think the more and more we can do that, hopefully it can get us in that discussion.”
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