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Back when Gus Malzahn was at Auburn, news of the College Football Playoff moving towards expanding to 12 teams would’ve been welcome. With other contenders such as Alabama, LSU and Georgia already in the SEC, adding more teams would give the Tigers a better chance at entering the postseason with national title aspirations still intact.
Now that he’s the head coach down at UCF, the news of expansion is even better.
Why? Well, the argument can be made that his path to a spot in the CFB Playoff just got a lot easier. Having 12 teams getting in means that top-ranked Group of Five programs will now have a legitimate shot at being one of them.
And instead of having to go through that trio of SEC powerhouses to get in, the Knights have only to survive the American Athletic Conference and other manageable opponents such as Boise State and Louisville.
Granted, that’s not to say Malzahn and UCF are poised to make a run this season. Cincinnati is still the top contender from the GoF this year, but moving forward, navigating an undefeated season in the AAC will be much easier than contending in the SEC.
That’s why Malzahn reacted to the news of expansion like he did last Thursday. His reaction included just two words: Game Changer. And for UCF and many others, that’s exactly what expansion will be … a game changer.
Gus Malzahn endorses the 12 team playoff recommendation. https://t.co/Hyy3iCMcwL
— Pat Smith (@patsmithradio) June 10, 2021
Outside of college football’s elite programs, the news is going to be beneficial.
Teams such as Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame were always in the mix regardless, but this news will diminish the excitement for top regular season games for those schools. Why? Well, let’s take Alabama, for example. For fans, there are only two or three games that are circled on the calendars every year. While Tide fans are confident they’ll win those contests, the season really boils down to those games.
Without the expansion, Alabama might not get into the Playoff if they lose one of those key games, making those games worth watching closely. In a 12-team scenario, Alabama could theoretically lose all three — much less two of the three — and still have a chance to get in.
So, those games aren’t as “must win” as they’ve been in the past. That’s going to decrease excitement.
However, that holds true only for college football’s elite programs. Expansion will allow more fan bases to stay engaged longer into the season. Alabama fans will still get their excitement in the postseason, while other programs will get opportunities to compete for championships that didn’t exist before.
Malzahn understands that, which is why he’s so excited. Can’t say I blame him.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.