The College Football Playoff management committee will be evaluating this week the possible expansion from four to 12 teams. There is a big picture for college football as a whole. And there is what an expanded playoff means for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Since the inception of the College Football Playoff in 2014-15, the debate surrounding it has raged like a wildfire. Now, that debate will take on an official platform. Beginning this week in Dallas, the committee will present the 12 team playoff concept to the 11 university presidents and chancellors who will have the final say on the debate.
The Wisconsin Badgers Expanded Playoff
Controversy From The Beginning
Back in 2014 during the first season featuring a playoff, controversy arrived when 11-1 TCU was left out in favor of Ohio State. The Buckeyes jumped the Horned Frogs in the final rankings after a 59-0 drumming of the Wisconsin Badgers. Controversy, conspiracy, and hypothetical scenarios have driven the playoff discussion since.
Soon after, the playoff has become a home for the elite in college football.
Clemson. Alabama. Ohio State. Oklahoma.
Those four schools have combined for 20 of the 28 available spots in the playoff. In addition, they’re responsible for all but 4 wins in the playoff. Furthermore, Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State have been crowned 6 of the 7 times. Now, if the playoff were to expand, the former stat will certainly change.
So how will it affect college football? And if you’re reading this, the Wisconsin Badgers.
Playoff expansion would undoubtedly be great news for the Wisconsin Badgers. We don’t yet know the entirety of the circumstances, but one can assume each of the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, and SEC) would have their league winner get an auto-bid. That leaves seven spots available for an “At Large” bid, and likely including a potential top-ranked Group of Five schools. For example, this past year that would’ve been the #8 Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference. With that being said, you can expect to see somewhere around the top 12 teams in the country get in on any given season. For Wisconsin fans, this is great news.
For a fan base that has become accustomed in recent years to falling just short, expansion could change that. In the playoff era alone, Wisconsin has finished inside the top 12 of the final rankings on three separate occasions. In the last 15 years, that number is six.
With the sustainable brand of high-level football Paul Chryst has re-established in Madison, the playoff becomes a real possibility every single season for the Badgers. Gone would be the days that a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game, which has become all too familiar, would end their hopes of a playoff entrance. One, or even two losses would more likely than not see the Badgers through to the post-season dance in a normal season.
Can This Help Recruiting?
In a word. Yes.
As we recently covered, recruiting for the Wisconsin Badgers football program has radically improved. An expanded playoff would only enhance those efforts.
The Badgers have been able to pitch to recruits in numerous key areas. The ability to get a great education, live in a true college town, and compete at a high level on the football field. What it hasn’t been able to pitch, is the real chance at getting to the playoff. Time and time again, the Badgers have been on the big stage and fallen just short of the playoff. Now, with expansion on the horizon, they can give recruits an honest pitch about having a real chance of playing in college football’s most prestigious games. This will be a fantastic opportunity to become a selling point to bring in higher-caliber recruits.
All in All
Playoff expansion is music to the ears of Wisconsin Badger fans. Recent evidence would imply that their chances of making a 12 team playoff on any given season are high. Much higher than that of a four-team playoff. This would be a boost for the program, recruiting, and the fan base, to have a chance at consistently reaching a peak once hoarded by college football’s elite programs. They’d be getting a chance. And that’s really all you can ask for.
Whilst playoff expansion may not change the outcome of who wins the National Championship, it will sure as heck sweeten the pot for teams that have been on the cusp of the playoff for years, like the Wisconsin Badgers.