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College football playoff’s response to expansion is a shame

College football has a perfect opportunity in front of itself. It has a chance to be more inclusive, to give expanding the playoff a shot. It can use the wackiness of the year — leagues starting at different times, COVID-19 creating chaos, star players opting out — to give a larger playoff a shot.

It can be a trial run, like baseball is doing with its 16-team playoff. Take eight teams — five power conference winners, one group of five program and two wild cards chosen by the committee. There is no down side.

As it stands, it will be incredibly difficult to choose the four teams. There aren’t any noteworthy non-conference games. Some teams will play 11 games, others eight, some seven — and that’s without further postponements, which seems unlikely. More than ever, it will come down to the eye test. Selection will be based on opinion. This year, of all years, winning your conference has to matter, since teams from the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 will only be playing teams from their respective leagues.

You can see the debates already. Team A has one loss, but it played 11 games. Team B is undefeated in only eight contests. Team C comes from the best conference, but has two losses. It’s going to be so hard to pick the four best teams this year, when you consider the factors involved.

“There’s gonna be more subjectivity than they’ve ever had before but that’s why we’ve got a committee,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said Thursday.

“Subjectivity” shouldn’t have a major role in deciding a national champion, especially not this year. Expanding the playoff to eight teams makes so much sense, eliminating human error and controversy, limiting the need for teams to run up the score. Before you say it’s too late in the process, just remember how fast college football has adapted on the fly. You have schedules being changed on a weekly basis. Leagues canceling and restarting seasons. There are no minimum restrictions on teams being bowl eligible this year.

It can be done. An extra weekend of games at home sites can be created. The powers that be just don’t want to do it.

The College Football Playoff should expand.
The College Football Playoff should expand.AP

I’ve asked College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock about the potential of expansion for just this year, and he said it hasn’t been discussed. Scott said there was “no serious momentum or discussion.” That’s a shame.

College football is missing out on a great opportunity. It has been dealt a tough hand, no doubt. This season is unlike any other. Which is reason enough to give a bigger playoff a look — even for just this one year.

We’re back!

This felt like the first real Saturday of the college football season despite the absence of the Big Ten and Pac-12 — and what a Saturday it was. You had new Mississippi State coach Mike Leach and his “air raid” system introducing itself to the SEC with an upset at sixth-ranked LSU, which became the first defending national champion to lose its opener since 1998. You had No. 3 Oklahoma blowing a 21-point lead to Kansas State — the same Kansas State that lost to Arkansas State and was without eight contributors due to the virus. You had No. 8 Texas needing a dramatic rally from 15 points down in the final 3:13 against Texas Tech to avoid all of Austin going into catatonic shock. Eight top-25 teams won by two scores or less and five lost. It’s good to have college football back, even in its strange, truncated state.

Big disappointment

It’s not too early to sound the alarm for the Big 12. Saturday could end up being a costly day for the Power Five conference’s hope of a spot in the playoff. Oklahoma, the league’s premier team, blew the big lead to shorthanded Kansas State. Texas needed that big rally against Texas Tech. No. 15 Oklahoma State, while 2-0, has yet to impress. And this year, without statement non-conference opportunities, the league will need someone to make weekly statements to the committee. That team is usually Oklahoma. But now the Sooners have a major hole in their résumé.

Top 10

1. Ohio State (0-0)

Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis and cornerback Shaun Wade opting into the season makes an already dangerous team scary good.

2. Clemson (2-0)

Trevor Lawrence has yet to see the fourth quarter this season, a result of two blowouts, and it may be a recurring theme for him this year in the mediocre-at-best ACC.

3. Alabama (1-0)

Mac Jones and Jaylen Waddle look ready for prime time, connecting eight times for 134 yards and two scores in a rout of Missouri.

Sean Clifford
Sean Clifford and Penn State, which is ranked No. 7 in Zach to School’s rankings, could help lead the Nittany Lions through the rugged Big Ten.Getty Images

4. Florida (1-0)

SEC media members picked Florida to win the SEC East, a somewhat surprising nod considering Georgia has owned the division the last three years. Kyle Trask and Co., however, made an impressive opening statement with a commanding victory over Ole Miss.

5. Auburn (1-0)

Bo Nix started his sophomore year much like his freshman year — with an impressive performance in a victory. Consistency eluded the young quarterback last year, which is what he will be striving to attain in next Saturday’s showdown at Georgia.

6. Georgia (1-0)

It’s going to take time for this offense to get right after losing nine starters. A sluggish victory over Arkansas made that abundantly clear.

7. Penn State (0-0)

While stud linebacker Micah Parsons opting out hurts, the return of quarterback Sean Clifford, tight end Pat Freiermuth and defensive lineman Shaka Toney gives Penn State more than a puncher’s chance in the rugged Big Ten East.

8. Texas (2-0)

It was peak Big 12 football. Texas allowed 56 points — and somehow won, rallying from down 15 in the final 3:13 of regulation to knock off Texas Tech in overtime. Tackling remains optional in the Power Five conference.

9. Notre Dame (2-0)

It’s still bizarre to see the Irish in the ACC standings. It’ll be an even bigger surprise if Notre Dame isn’t still undefeated entering its Nov. 7 meeting with Clemson.

10. Miami (3-0)

D’Eriq King and the Hurricanes look legit after throttling in-state rival Florida State and whipping Louisville. We’ll see how legit Oct. 10 against Clemson in Death Valley.

Heisman Trophy Watch (in alphabetical order)

QB K.J. Costello, Mississippi State

Nobody made a bigger statement over the weekend than the Stanford transfer, who set an SEC record with 623 yards passing and five touchdowns in an upset over defending national champion LSU.

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Fields will be at a disadvantage, having just eight games to impress the voters. Good thing he has an offense that should give him plenty of opportunities to post eye-popping numbers.

QB D’Eriq King, Miami

Miami looks like it could be a factor in the ACC now that it has a legitimate quarterback in the Houston transfer, who has keyed one-sided victories over Florida State, Louisville and UAB.

QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

The heavy favorite is off to a flying start, throwing for 519 yards, four touchdowns and missing on just seven pass attempts in blowouts of The Citadel and Wake Forest.

QB Kyle Trask, Florida

Expectations are heightened in Gainesville and Trask showed why in the opener, kicking off his Heisman campaign by obliterating Ole Miss to the tune of 416 yards through the air and six touchdown passes.

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