Shane Dunaway: Expand CFP, cut out ‘Who Cares?’ bowls

Published 8:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2022

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The College Football Playoff format appears to remain intact for at least four more seasons after talks of expansion broke down in February and CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock recently said he expects no changes to the format until 2026 or 2027.

Fans, particularly of college football teams not in the Southeastern Conference, bemoan the current system because it somehow has failed to prevent a national championship game featuring teams from the same conference – twice.

Some may argue expansion of the playoffs dilutes the accomplishments of the four teams that earned a coveted spot because the proverbial cream rises to the top and the CFP committee selecting the four teams has gotten it right in all eight tries. Others may disagree.

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Regardless how you feel about the system in place, the best part of its existence is these games actually matter, and adding more games that mean something would be better than forcing people to watch the Belk Bowl, Independence Bowl, Capital One Bowl or one of the many other unnecessary bowl games we’ve been inundated with for years during the holiday season.

Plenty of athletes who aren’t in the playoff games are bailing out of these exhibition matchups in order to protect themselves from injury and focus on playing at the next level.

The easiest way to compel these athletes to keep playing past early December is by expanding the field and potentially giving more of these young men an opportunity to showcase what they can do against the best.

Imagine if we re-seeded the past season’s teams under an eight-team playoff format.

In that scenario, Alabama would be paired up with Pittsburgh, Michigan would face Utah, Georgia would line up against Baylor and Cincinnati would battle Notre Dame.

Would playing against one of the most storied college football programs in history have been enough to convince Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett to play? Maybe not, but playing well against a team like the Crimson Tide or even pulling off an improbable upset would have done more for his draft stock than bailing out of the Peach Bowl did.

Expanding the CFP will inevitably happen, but for each playoff game that’s added to the format, let’s remove two of the “Who Cares?” bowls from the television schedule.

Nobody needs to see the Boca Raton Bowl.