Conference Expansion's Fallout Invites a Bigger College Football Playoff

By Brandon Cavanaugh
Derick Hingle – US PRESSWIRE

The Louisville Cardinals are the latest addition to the conference expansion that make no sense. The Big Ten and ACC both now have 14 members and there’s no end of where the power/money grabs will stop in sight. Leagues will continue to merge, split and merge again, but after the dust settles, college football will be left with huge conferences and a small playoff. This will not stand.

It’s time to look long-term and a four-team playoff isn’t going to cut it. Eight teams and even the more favorable 16-team version may not be enough. Dare the idea of a 32-team college football playoff be discussed by the Powers That Be?

A 16-team conference used to seem “super,” but now talk of 20 or 24 teams is being legitimately entertained.  For the sake of sanity, 16 seems more than enough to field a strong conference and if six of these muscle-bound conferences existed, that’s 96 teams fighting for the right to be seeded in a 16 or 32-team battle royale.

While traditional match ups may be chucked out the door unceremoniously – and that’s a kind word – games that fans have dreamed about would become possible annually. However, before specifics of this yet to be named fall classic are discussed, some entourages need to be booted out of the VIP club.

Neither the Sun Belt or Western Athletic Conference are very appealing from a monetary standpoint. Cutting both from the FBS entirely slims it down to 107 teams. 11 left, so it’s time to get picky.

The Mountain West Conference seems the next likely choice to start slicing apart. The New Mexico Lobos, San Diego State Aztecs, UNLV Rebels and Wyoming Cowboys‘ programs don’t exactly rake in money. While the rest of the MWC isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, there are some salvageable cross-conference match ups. The aforementioned teams get the boot and 103 remain.

Conference USA is another good place to trim some fat. Neither the Tulane Green Wave nor Memphis Tigers will be churning out any world-beaters soon. The UTEP Miners and UAB Blazers produce fun teams every once in a while, but they’re not reliable. Ditch ‘em. Now there are only three more “problems” to solve.

Scanning the cellars again, a trio sticks out: The Massachusetts Minutemen, South Florida Bulls and Temple Owls. Dump these three and there’s a perfect 96 teams for the Ultra Playoff®.

For this scenario to work best, there’d have to be some trading of teams not unlike baseball cards between youngsters, but if this immense task were feasible (and if the money’s there, it is), it’ll happen.

Such a radical change of college football’s landscape and postseason may seem like a massive undertaking and maybe even stupid at first glance, but the idea of major conference expansion did not that long ago, too. Then the ground began to shake and the earthquakes still haven’t stopped.

Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter: @eightlaces

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