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Sport Should College Football Playoff expand? Coaches at AFCA convention in Nashville disagree

14:31  15 january  2020
14:31  15 january  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Coaches at AFCA convention in Nashville disagree . Coaches attending the AFCA convention in Nashville were asked if the College Football Playoff should expand . They didn't see it eye to eye.

About 7,000 AFCA members are in Nashville for the American Football Coaches Association convention . The American Football Coaches Association national convention is being held at Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.

NASHVILLE — TCU coach Gary Patterson said he enjoyed dissecting the College Football Playoff national title game on ESPN’s "Coaches Film Room" show Monday night.

a group of people in uniform: Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) hoists the the national championship trophy after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) hoists the the national championship trophy after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

He was joined by Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Boston College’s Jeff Hafley in breaking down LSU’s 42-25 win over Clemson for the FBS national championship.

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But Tuesday in Nashville, Patterson said he had one big problem with the game. It should’ve been the last game of an eight-team playoff rather than a four-team bracket.

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“It should be eight,” said Patterson, who was attending the American Football Coaches Association convention at Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. “You’d have five winners (as champions of Power Five conferences), a couple that deserve it (as at-large selections) and one Cinderella, maybe from the (Group of Five) conferences.

“It’ll change once it’s about the money.”

The Power Five conferences are the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. The Group of Five conferences, sometime dubbed mid-majors, are the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt.

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Not every coach wants playoff expansion

Patterson isn’t alone among college football coaches wanting an expansion of the College Football Playoff format. But he’s not necessarily in the majority.

Florida coach Dan Mullen thought this year’s playoff showed that the current format produces the rightful champion. LSU beat six of the top 13 teams in the CFP rankings en route to the national title. Clemson knocked off Ohio State to reach the championship game.

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“Getting those two teams (LSU and Clemson) seemed to work. And getting those four teams seemed to work,” Mullen said. “I don’t know of many years where the best team doesn’t win the national championship.

“It seems to work the way it is. But if it expands, that could work too.”

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If this year’s playoff included eight teams, Georgia, Oregon, Baylor and Wisconsin would’ve rounded out the bracket. Mullen’s Gators were just outside that pool at No. 9. Perhaps if they were in the top eight, his perspective would be different.

After all, most coaches see the best playoff format through the lens of their school or conference.

‘There’s a version better than what we’re doing’

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson, a former Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina assistant, is in the Sun Belt. His conference's champion, Appalachian State (13-1), almost finished undefeated. Similarly, Memphis (12-2) of the American Athletic and Boise State (12-2) of the Mountain West had only one loss before the bowl season.

If any of those Group of Five teams finished unbeaten, it’s unlikely they would’ve snagged a spot in the four-team playoff.

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“No, they wouldn’t have gotten in,” Anderson said. “With four teams, it’s pretty much impossible (for a Group of Five conference team) to get in. There are too many good teams in the Power Five conferences for even an undefeated Group of Five team to get in.

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“I’d love to see it expand. I’ve been in the I-AA playoffs as a player, and I’ve coached at every level with playoff systems. I feel like there’s a version better than what we’re doing.”

How would an eight-team playoff work?

Not only does Patterson have an eight-team format figured out, but he also knows how to schedule it.

“There’s only one (conference) championship game that anyone pays attention to, and that’s the SEC game,” Patterson said. “So you could play the first round (of the playoff) on that weekend and keep the rest of it the same.”

In 2014, Patterson’s TCU squad got bumped out of the four-team playoff picture on the final week of the regular season in the first year of the CFP.

a man holding a baseball bat: TCU head coach Gary Patterson during an Oct. 19. 2019 game against Kansas State.© The Associated Press TCU head coach Gary Patterson during an Oct. 19. 2019 game against Kansas State.

“Ever since we got left out, I haven’t been a big fan of four,” Patterson said. “But it can expand by playing on that (conference championship weekend) and just go about your business.”

Miami coach Manny Diaz isn’t so sure it’s that easy.

“Any expansion is going to require a complete rethink of the season because you’re adding another layer of games,” said Diaz, the former defensive coordinator at Texas, Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee. “Where does that fall? Do conferences really want to get rid of their championship games?”

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Conference championships are big parts of TV contracts. If they were eliminated, another playoff round would have to make sense in those deals and as part of the academic calendar.

“Think about the two teams that just played (Monday), and how long they’ve been at it,” Diaz said. “They’re already back in spring session, and they’re back in class tomorrow. They already weren’t home for Christmas, and they haven’t had a break since the first of August.

“I’m not saying that (playoff expansion) can’t work. But it would take a whole re-think.”

Reach Adam Sparks at asparks@tennessean.com and on Twitter @AdamSparks.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Should College Football Playoff expand? Coaches at AFCA convention in Nashville disagree

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