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Kirk Herbstreit is fed up with the College Football Playoff system and thinks it’s time to make changes since so many teams are left in the dust with zero chance of ever playing for a national championship.
“Our postseason is as bad as there is,” Herbstreit said Wednesday on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show (via 247 Sports). “And we have got to figure out a system that opens up opportunities. The season ends Jan. 12. I can already tell you, 2021, Ohio State’s coming out of the Big Ten, Clemson’s coming out of the ACC, Alabama’s coming out of the SEC.
“I can say in 2023, Ohio State is coming out of the Big Ten, Clemson’s coming out of the ACC and Alabama (in the SEC). … If that’s where we are, is that right? Is that healthy for the sport when 98 or 99 percent of the participants realize they don’t have a chance before the season starts?
“We’ve got to look at this 2020 year and realize that we have to tweak the system for the betterment of the sport. We’re at a fork in the road right now on a lot of levels, and we’ve got to look at some potential changes.”
What Herbstreit fails to mention is the role that his employer has played in all this from the beginning. The CFP has always been about guaranteeing the most eyeballs and money possible to a network that has huge skin in the game. The network signed a 12-year deal in 2012 to broadcast the playoff games at a price tag of $5.64 billion, or $470 million annually. In 2015, ESPN negotiated $20 million in makegoods to advertisers after a ratings disaster when the CFP games were played on New Year’s Eve.
How do you prevent makegoods and a profit? You rig the system so bluebloods are guaranteed to be there at the end. Herbstreit is upset at the very system his employer has created. What’s unspoken here is that the system will eventually be changed, and it won’t be for the benefit of Cincinnati, BYU, Coastal Carolina or any other random school that had a great year.
The Power Five will eventually split off, and the Playoff will expand. Yet the AAC, Mountain West, etc., etc., will still not be invited. Why? Ratings. Money. Eyeballs. Advertising. Just a week ago, it was announced ESPN was buying up the final SEC rights held by CBS to the tune of more than $300 million annually over 10 years starting in 2024, according to Sports Business Journal.
The college football utopia Herbstreit remembers from the old days isn’t returning until ESPN’s grip on college football is weakened. Good luck with that.