A college football playoff subcommittee revealed a proposed 12-team expansion last week, a move that has become the main topic of the offseason.
Soon we’ll be back to hot-seat coaches. This chatter never goes away.
While this expansion will not impact the future of head coaches for the next few seasons, the potential ripple effects on the coaching carousel will be intriguing. Just wait for the mix of the 12-team playoffs and hot seat talks.
MORE: How a 12-Team College Football Playoff Works
This will lead to some interesting questions about the definition of coaching success.
Is it a trip to the 12-team CFP? Would winning a playoff game save a manager’s job, like a Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament? Which coaches would have different temperatures now if the 12-team playoffs started in 2014? As a result, fewer coaches will be made redundant?
These are legitimate questions when you consider past results. Here’s a look at the schools that would have multiple CFP participations if the 12-team format started in 2014:
If CFP had 12 teams since 2014 …
|SCHOOL||APPLI OF playoffs.|
|State of pennsylvania||4|
Now here’s how it would have changed the outlook for some programs and coaches during that time:
What programs would have benefited with 12 teams?
Penn State, Georgia and TCU stand out.
The Nittany Lions are yet to make their playoff appearance, and James Franklin is coming off a miserable 4-5 season in 2020. Franklin is on more volatile ground than usual before 2021, but that would be another story. in a configuration of 12 teams.
Penn State would have made four appearances in general between 2016 and 2019. Imagine the impact this would have had on recruiting and how it would have helped catch up with Ohio State – the only school that would have made the CFP all seven. seasons. Over time, this would make the Big Ten East race more appealing than it is today.
Does that sound familiar to you, Georgia? The Bulldogs have reportedly made the CFP each of the past four seasons, which is better than Georgia’s only appearance under Kirby Smart. Georgia have recruited at an elite level under Smart, but the program continues to aim for its first national championship since 1980. Despite all the success, the Bulldogs still operate in the shadow of Alabama.
Maybe in one of those seasons the Bulldogs would have pulled off this race, but Smart’s success in Athens – and even Mark Richt before him – would be viewed with more appreciation.
Imagine what back-to-back playoff appearances in 2014-15 would have done for Gary Patterson at TCU in the Big 12. Those hiccups slowed the momentum of the program. Patterson is one of the longest-serving coaches in the FBS and has enjoyed consistent success, but the Horned Frogs are 18-17 for the past three seasons.
Which coaches would have cooler seats now?
Clay Helton and Jim Harbaugh have been in the hot seat for the past few seasons. We talk about these two coaches more than anyone during a given offseason.
Helton would have led the Trojans to back-to-back CFP appearances in 2016-17 with Sam Darnold, and that might have helped the program avoid a two-year drop from 2018-19. Helton bounced back with a Pac-12 South championship in 2020, but USC could be further along on the path to a true national championship.
Harbaugh is 0-5 against Ohio State and has failed to qualify for a Big Ten championship game since arriving in 2015. Yet Michigan would have two CFP appearances in that setup, including this one. 2016 team that lost the thriller in double overtime to the Buckeyes on “The Spot”. The 2018 squad was also Harbaugh’s last real Big Ten contender.
Maybe these teams will win a playoff game or two. The Ohio State issue is still looming, but it’s not the only topic of discussion with Harbaugh.
Which coaches could have stayed in place?
Chris Peterson retired after the 2019 season, but the Huskies would have been a three-time playoff team in a 12-team setup from 2016 to 2018. Would that have attracted the talent Peterson needed to compete in that national championship? ?
Is Scott Frost still at UCF? It’s worth wondering if the Knights would have been a playoff team in 2017 and 2018. The inclusion of the Group of 5 could encourage more coaches to stay put (think Tom Herman in Houston). Frost is 12-20 over the past three seasons in Nebraska.
Will there be fewer coach changes?
Frost is a good starting point for this discussion. Consider that UCF coach Josh Heupel is now in Tennessee and former Auburn coach Gus Malzhan is now at UCF.
Auburn would only have made CFP once in this format, and Malzahn was once a coach who was in the hot seat every year like Harbaugh and Helton. Maybe that changes Malzahn’s status. Maybe not.
There have been 17 coaching changes in the FBS this offseason. It was the first time in the CFP era that the number was less than 20. Perhaps the number 12-15 is becoming the norm in the era of 12 teams knowing that the definition of success slips with more included. in the playoffs.
Here are the bets that will occur, and it will be a welcome change.
The hot seat discussions will never end, but we can’t wait to see how those conversations change.