As the College Football Playoff starts to consider a 12-team playoff, Georgia coach Kirby Smart says he believes college football is on track for its biggest change ever.
“Most changes have been relatively small,” Smart told ESPN’s Marty & McGee on Saturday. “With the potential of what’s been proposed … [it’s] probably the greatest change there has been in terms of major college football.”
Smart was one of several coaches to weigh in on the potential of a 12-team playoff, with LSU‘s Ed Orgeron calling expansion “inevitable” and saying he is fine with a change that helps the Tigers reach the playoff.
“I think it’s coming,” Orgeron said. “Here’s what I’ve learned: As the older you get, you have to adapt. This game is changing, recruiting is changing, things are changing fast. We just have to adapt. Hey, if they expand, then good. It gives us a chance to get in.”
Under the 12-team format proposed by a CFP subcommittee Thursday, the bracket would include the six highest-ranked conference champions and the next six highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP selection committee. There would be no limit on the number of participants from a conference, and no league would qualify automatically.
If the CFP management committee agrees to the 12-team model during meetings in Chicago on Thursday and Friday, it would then be presented to the 11 presidents and chancellors who make up the CFP’s board of managers at a meeting in Dallas on June 22. CFP executive director Bill Hancock said Thursday that the process would play out until at least September and that no change to the four-team format would be made in 2021 or 2022.
For Smart, he sees an expanded format as benefiting teams who play a challenging slate.
“I think a lot of this is going to boil down to strength of schedule,” Smart told Marty & McGee. “For a long time now we have been trying to build up our future strength of schedule, because it’s not the losses that are going to kill you; it’s not playing the best teams. We’ve tried to go out and schedule major Power 5s across our scheduling system all the way out with the hopes that this would give us the opportunity to go play some really good teams. And losses won’t kill you when you start talking about top 12. You’ve got to have a powerful schedule and go play good teams.”
Another major effect of an expanded playoff would be an opening to the Group of 5 teams, such as Coastal Carolina, which went 11-0 during the regular season but was 12th in the final CFP rankings. Chanticleers coach Jamey Chadwell told Marty & McGee that this would be a game-changer for the FBS’ smaller schools.
“You’ve got an invitation to the dance now. You actually have an opportunity,” Chadwell said. “I think that’s what everybody’s talking about is no matter what type of season you had, it was very slim that you ever had an opportunity. Slim to none and slim usually left the building. For now, you can see a pathway.”
“We’ve got official visits going on this weekend, and I can look them in the face and say if we can handle business, we have an opportunity to play for a national championship,” he added. “You’ve never had that opportunity to say that before, and you can do that now. And so that gives you hope, and as Andy Dufresne says in ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ hope is maybe the best of things.”
Information from ESPN’s Heather Dinich was used in this report.