International soccer has a system of promotion and relegation, that raises the stakes for teams at the bottom of league standings, even during disappointing season. It is unclear how much he’s thought about it, but Clemson football‘s Dabo Swinney seems intrigued by the idea for college football. Or he’s promoting it to denigrate the currently proposal for College Football Playoff expansion.
Swinney spoke to the media today. Obviously, the ever-changing landscape of his sport, between NIL rules, which he has previously railed against, and the likelihood of the College Football Playoff expansion are themes whenever a coach of his stature takes the mic.
Clemson has no issue making the field as currently constituted. The Tigers have made the four-team field every year since the first of the current iteration of the College Football Playoff. It’s no surprise that they may not be as excited for the proposed change as others.
Dabo Swinney jokingly proposed taking things a step further and just going to full promotion/relegation like they have in Europe. He may not be serious, but he’s far from the first person to propose this.
“Maybe we should do that. Maybe we should have a 40-team Premier League with a 12-team Playoff and if you stink you get relegated to the other level or something. I don’t know.”
— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) July 20, 2021
ESPN’s David Hale wrote about this at length last summer, as the sport looked like it might be in financial trouble due to COVID-19. UCF’s Danny White, now the new AD at Tennessee, was passionate about some sort of system that would get programs like his Knights in position to play for a championship.
In college football, however, a team like Kansas can endure a decade of utter futility, and still keep its seat at the table with the more successful members of the Big 12. More importantly, the school keeps collecting the same payout from the league.
Meanwhile, modern upstarts such as UCF are left to beg and plead for high-profile games, and their path to a national championship is nonexistent, all because the Knights et al. weren’t around to land a plum spot in a power league decades ago.
“The idea that being in the right place at the right time 50 years ago permanently positions you in a status in college football should at some point become antiquated,” UCF athletic director Danny White said. “At what point do the upstarts like UCF have a fair opportunity?”
Now, the 12-team playoff system, which would open major doors for Group of Five schools like UCF, would accomplish this as well. Overall, it doesn’t sound like Clemson is super excited about major changes to the system which has gone so well for them.
Lots of newsy/noteworthy nuggets from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney today during his media availability. His players are not in favor of a 12-team playoff, joining UNC among the ACC teams that we have talked to so far. Really interested to hear from more players at ACC Kickoff.
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) July 20, 2021
The 12-team field isn’t official yet, so perhaps things may change, but it sounds like the sport is pretty far down the road to expansion.