The Notre Dame football team has been to two of the last three College Football Playoffs, but what would expansion mean for the Irish moving forward.
Over the offseason, Notre Dame football saw their athletic director Jack Swarbrick be one of four people who came up with a plan for an expanded College Football Playoff. The three others were SEC, Big 12, and Mountain West commissioners Greg Sankey, Bob Bowslby, and Craig Thompson.
The plan they came up with, which was widely accepted as being what was going to happen sooner than later, was for a 12 team Playoff, which included access to the top six ranked conference champions, six at-large bids, and a bye week to the top four conference champions.
Debate that format however you’d like, but it’s what they announced would be recommended going forward. Then the SEC’s Greg Sankey pulled a coup.
Oklahoma and Texas, in this same offseason, announced they would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, which left the college football world in shock. All of a sudden, we had hit the next round of conference realignment, and Sankey had managed to build an expanded Playoff that only two Power Five commissioners were a part of and the second one didn’t realize he was losing his two most valuable programs.
It sat wrong with the other commissioners.
This led to “The Alliance,” which is ultimately a gentlemen’s agreement between the ACC, B1G 10, and PAC-12 to schedule each other in about a decade and probably vote together. It’s an agreement that will be broken as soon as one of the three has a chance to move on to something bigger or better.
One of the key things this group is going to be a part of, as well as many other Presidents, ADs, and administrators who feel the SEC and Greg Sankey pulled a fast one on them, are said to be trying to stop College Football Playoff expansion. They simply don’t want expansion in Sankey’s vision, which would help to strengthen the SEC’s monopoly on major bowl games.
They want to stop this expansion, even though most other conferences and programs desperately need expansion if they ever have any hope of making the College Football Playoff.
Now, discussions on this new College Football Playoff format are about to be discussed between all the FBS commissioners and Jack Swarbrick in Dallas. This is a preliminary meeting before the meeting with the Presidents in a week.
What does it mean for Notre Dame football?
Before this meeting, Swarbrick has made it clear that he fully expects the Playoff to still ultimately expand. Swarbrick is quoted as saying, “I have no doubt the playoff will expand. When it will expand, and what the exact format will be, I don’t know. But they will expand.” This comes after a preliminary call between the commissioners to hear what everyone’s major concerns were going to be with the current system and plans.
What does this mean for Notre Dame football? For one, it means that Notre Dame football has a seat at the table, and will get to have their say on the system going forward. Swarbrick remains the most influential athletic director in college football. It also means that the odds are that expansion will come, and the Playoff will ultimately be easier for Notre Dame football to make, even if they have to make some other concession along the way.