The College Football Playoff — since its inception in 2015 — has brought sweeping changes to the postseason outlook of major college football. Since its adoption however media members, and collegiate fan bases across the country, have wondered how long it may take for the playoff landscape to shift again.
Those movements appear to be closer to a reality, potentially as early as the 2026 season when the current playoff contract ends.
With a lack of news filtering around the world of college football, Brett McMurphy and Stadium Network surveyed all 130 athletic directors across the FBS about playoff expansion and garnered 112 responses.
According to the survey, 88% of athletic directors are in favor of expanding the playoff in some fashion, whether that be six teams, eight teams, or potentially as many as 16 teams.
Of those in favor of a larger pool of teams, 72% of athletic directors preferred an eight team playoff.
Movement towards an eight team playoff from the current four team model would likely include automatic bids for conference champions, and at-large spots for either two or three teams depending on if there is a Group of 5 representative. Interestingly, 66% of ADs surveyed believed that the highest ranked G5 team should be included, although a strong contingent of Power 5 ADs were in favor of three at larges as they have more power in this situation.
While this potential expansion idea has been talked about routinely since 2015, it appears that it is only a matter of time given the overwhelming support for playoff growth. There is a lot that would need to be fleshed out further, such as where the games would be played (athletic directors were fairly split on this), as well as who would would comprise the teams who qualify as noted above.
As reported by @Brett_McMurphy, almost 90% of FBS Athletic Directors are IN-FAVOR of an expanded #CFBPlayoff.— Stadium (@Stadium) April 8, 2020
Here's what the 8-team playoff would've looked like over the last four seasons. pic.twitter.com/atj6ApJcL6
In terms of how this would fit within the scope of Wisconsin Badgers athletics, this expansion would only bolster the chances for the Badgers to make the playoff. In fact, the Badgers finished within the top eight of the College Football Playoff Rankings in three of the past four seasons, meaning that they would have been in contention all three of those seasons.
With Ohio State’s dominance within the Big Ten not skipping a beat under Ryan Day, an eight team playoff would give Wisconsin a better chance at making the national championship in the near future.
Any changes are still a ways away, but Barry Alvarez has been pounding the table for a widened playoff net for a while now, and it sure seems like he is not alone.