Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Power 5 schools and conferences are upset at the thought of non-traditional schools from Group of 5 conference potentially getting playoff spots and money. So they are changing the rules. Again.
When the current College Football Playoff model was announced, intentions were pretty clear. Group of 5 teams got a seat at the table. But it was at the end of the table, and they weren’t allowed to cross to the adult side. G5 teams were given a big bowl with the New Year’s 6 but were not in the 4-team playoff. However, a funny thing has happened along the way: some Group of 5 teams arguably became good enough to deserve a shot.
First was the controversial University of Central Florida. Arguments could be made for or against their playoff inclusion, but they definitely deserved to be in the conversation. Instead, there was never any indication that they received any serious consideration.
As little as two weeks ago, with the debut of this year’s initial college football playoff rankings, P5 bias has once again reared its ugly head. Cincinnati came in at #6 in the first rankings, despite being a few spots higher in the Coaches and AP polls. This is despite having a win over fellow top ten team Notre Dame. Putting salt in the wound, CFP committee chairman Gary Barta had the nerve to say: “The committee has great respect for Cincinnati... the win at Notre Dame was a really impressive win. ... (But) who else did they beat?”
From the quote above, the sentiment is clear: No Group of 5 team is getting in the playoff in the current model while the current committee is in charge of the rankings. Why not? Because the committee and Power 5 teams said so. They don’t want the playoff spots and money to get away from them. Their bias is showing, and they don’t care because they make the rules.
All of this leads perfectly into the news that broke last week about the potential changes in the proposed 12 team playoff expansion.
A proposal was agreed upon at the end of summer, and everyone was getting along so well. Times were good, and everyone was taking a victory lap. to refresh everyone’s memory on the original proposal, or at least the aspect most relevant to the purposes of this post, it was 12 teams, the six highest-ranked conference champions plus six at large teams. Note the importance of the language here.
It’s the six highest-ranked champions, not the five power five champions, and the highest-ranked Group of Five champion. There is room for more fairness and competitive balance in the playoff with this model. While it may not occur most of the time, there may be some years multiple Group of Five teams may have a strong case. If this model were in place during the 2020 season, for instance, two Group of five teams would have made it over a PAC-12 team. However, it wouldn’t have happened in any other year in the CFP era.
This would be a massive win for the Group of 5 conferences, and some writers even believed the distinction could go away with this model in place. And apparently, that did not sit well with some certain biased Power 5 representatives.
Last week, “the Alliance” woke up one day and feared they were going to miss out on some prestige and money and playoff spots because one or two of the three conferences are scuffling.
It’s a tale as old as time. The “haves” of the world see the “have nots” inching closer to their side of the line. They become worried things will change and have gotten used to their way of living, so they moved the line and changed the rules.
The new proposal gaining traction is taking away the room for more than one Group of 5 team and instead ensuring spots for the champions of the five power conferences, whether they are more deserving or not. Why? Because they are biased and self-serving.
Let’s be honest, the proposed changes will pass, and it will be a “5+1” model, with the “1” being the lone spot for a Group of 5 team. It will pass because the Power 5 representatives will draw a hard line; “make the changes, or we won’t vote yes.” So the Group of 5 representatives will have no choice to give in and comply because it’s the only option for something better. Currently, they have a seat at the table. Going forward, they will have a good seat, but once again, it comes with a catch: one seat and one seat only.
It will be better than before but not as good as it could or should be. It will not be purely about getting the best 12 teams into a playoff because it isn’t about that. It never has been. College football playoff expansion is solely about making more money. And the people who have more money now want to ensure they continue to get the biggest amount of money they possibly can, which inevitably means there will be less money for others. Everyone is trying to do the same thing, but the rules are slanted in favor of the people making the rules. And their bias is showing.