Could Barry Alvarez help start the move to a larger College Football Playoff?

Yahoo Sports
Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez laughs as he stands near the Outback Bowl winner’s trophy during a news conference on Jan. 1, 2015. (AP)
Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez laughs as he stands near the Outback Bowl winner’s trophy during a news conference on Jan. 1, 2015. (AP)

The College Football Playoff is not expanding anytime soon. But it’s also not had anyone involved think it should expand. Until now.

Former Wisconsin coach and current Badger athletic director Barry Alvarez told CBS Sports that he “would now be open” to the playoff expanding to six teams. Alvarez was one of the inaugural members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

“I would now be open to six,” Alvarez told CBS Sports. “Two byes [for the top two teams]. …  Maybe give one spot to the … [Group of Five champion].”

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Playoff has been steadfast about staying at 4 teams

The College Football Playoff has taken every opportunity to say that it’s not expanding beyond four teams. Executive director Bill Hancock reiterated that point in July at SEC media days.

The stubbornness isn’t surprising. Look how long it took for the BCS to be implemented in college football. And look how long it took for the BCS to be ditched for a four-team playoff. College football is not exactly the quickest of adopters when it comes to changing title formats. It’s a stark contrast to a series like NASCAR, which has made changes to its playoff format approximately every three years since it was implemented in 2004.

Much of the advocation for playoff expansion has come from people who don’t have direct ties to the playoff. Alvarez bucks that trend. While it’s unlikely that he would spur an immediate change, it’s possible that his public comments could inspire others to speak out. If there’s a move within college football — and people who have been a part of the selection committee — then we could start getting somewhere with serious playoff expansion conversations.

If the playoff expands, should the Group of Five be represented?

Alvarez’s comments are also slightly significant because he feels that the top team outside the Power Five conferences is worthy of playoff consideration in an expanded format. Central Florida didn’t sniff the top 10 despite going undefeated last year. If the playoff expanded to six or eight teams and just went with the top teams in the rankings, the Group of Five’s best team(s) would have still have no chance of being represented. Just like it doesn’t in the four-team playoff.

In our eyes, the best expanded playoff would be an eight-team format. Five conference champions, the highest-ranked Group of Five team in the CFP rankings and two wild-card teams. Every conference title game would have a ton of meaning (and potentially mean more money). And the first round of the playoff could be held at the home stadiums of the top four teams before reverting to the format currently in place for the four-team playoff.

But hey, six is an OK compromise, especially if other people feel like Alvarez do. We’ll see if he sparks a movement.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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