Does Expanded CFP Help Tigers?
A survey conducted by sports website Stadium shows 88 percent of NCAA Division I athletic directors are in favor of expanding the current College Football Playoff.
Since its inception in 2014, Clemson has qualified for the CFP five times, played in the final game four times and won two national championships.
The survey also showed ADs most prefer an eight team playoff, with each Power Five conference champion represented along with a Group of Five qualifier and two at-large bids. A small group of ADs even advocated to expand the current system to 16 teams.
During a press conference prior to Clemson's CFP playoff game against Ohio State, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked about a playoff expansion.
"The more you expand, the less the season matters, especially if a team so-called already in the playoff, well, now you’re going to have people not playing guys, just like you have in all these other sports," Swinney said. "All of a sudden, games don’t matter because everybody is just playing for the playoff and they’re in. What we have is the best of both worlds."
Despite Swinney's objections, an expansion could be an advantageous for the Tigers in the future.
If the CFP expanded to eight teams, each of the Power Five conferences would be represented in the playoff. Clemson would not have to worry about the lackluster ACC potentially weighing down its chances to play for a national championship.
An expanded playoff would also likely mean a home playoff game for the top four seeds. Another sellout of Death Valley means more money in the pocket of the program.
Expansion also allows for once-in-a-lifetime matchups that would have otherwise been impossible to see. Clemson's out of conference schedule is consistently strong having played Auburn, Texas A&M and Georgia most recently. They are also scheduled to face LSU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame. But, a playoff could give the Tigers a chance to face West Coast teams such as Oregon, Southern Cal or Utah.
An expanded playoff also gives Clemson room for error. With such high profile games showing up on future schedules, there are always chances for a slip up. Usually one loss would put the Tigers behind the eight ball for the rest of the season, but with two at-large bids, even a loss in conference may not keep the Tigers from having the opportunity to play for the national title.
Despite the advantages to an expanded playoff, there could also be pitfalls. Most notably is the fact that you now must beat three teams on the way to the championship rather than two. With a full season, conference championships and three playoff games, players will have played the equivalent of an NFL schedule.
The least appealing aspect of expansion for teams would most likely be the most appealing for its fans. The upsets. Just like the NCAA basketball tournament, fans will root for the underdog teams to take down the giants, at least in the first round of the games. Rarely do the best teams reach the Final Four in basketball, usually its about who gets hot at the right time.
Luckily, we don't have to worry about these things for quite some time. The current CFP contract runs through the 2025 season, so ADs would be unable to change any format until then.