The last two years, the B1G has been left out of the College Football Playoff. The last three years, the B1G champion has been left out of the College Football Playoff.
B1G athletic directors are having a problem with that.
The conference is hosting its annual spring meetings this week, and the idea of expanding the College Football Playoff, once again, has come to the surface. It’s been a topic of conversation since the selection committee’s ruling this past season, putting Oklahoma in over Ohio State last December.
Several B1G athletic directors believe the format is worth reexamining.
“I’m open to the consideration and looking at it and thinking about it,” Michigan AD Warde Manuel told Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News. “Anytime our Big Ten champion is left out of the playoff, what, three years in a row, that’s something that needs to be discussed. Because I obviously believe that you go through and you win the Big Ten championship in this league you’ve accomplished something that deserves to put you in position to play for the national championship.”
The B1G was in good shape through the first three years of the College Football Playoff era. Ohio State won the first ever title after the 2014 season, and Michigan State earned a trip to the four-team field the following year. The Buckeyes made a return appearance in 2016.
But it’s the last two years in which the league has been omitted that has caused a stir among the athletic directors, as well as commissioner Jim Delany.
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has probably been the B1G’s most outspoken voice on the subject, arguing several times that the field needs to expand to eight teams. He didn’t change his opinion this week.
“It concerns me that everyone has not been included, and I’ve stated this before,” Alvarez said, “I think we certainly should take a look at it. I think we need to revisit the criteria that were set up to start with. We adjusted all of our scheduling accordingly.”
The scheduling change is the B1G’s transition from and eight-game conference schedule to a nine-game format. It also prompted the league to eliminate as many FCS matchups as possible, allowing B1G teams to schedule those opponents only in years in which they have four home conference games.
Clearly, that scheduling change hasn’t been taken into consideration. The SEC and ACC still play eight game conference schedules and have reached the playoff every year.
With so much ongoing conversation about expansion, Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman thinks it will eventually be more inclusive.
“My personal opinion is that expansion is probably inevitable,” he said.
There are concerns about the length of the season and player well-being if the field is expanded to eight teams. It adds another game for teams to play at the end of the year, though it would be just one additional contest for only two programs in the sport.
College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock has said that he’s very pleased with the current format and doesn’t anticipate to see any significant changes anytime soon.