Along with eccentric, Mike Leach is nothing if not consistent.
Even before a four-team playoff was approved in June of 2012 and implemented for the 2014 season, Leach was espousing the virtues of a 64-team playoff field, labeling such a size as “ideal.” As part of the Pac-12 coaches turn through the ESPN car wash Wednesday, Leach stated, as he has one more than one occasion, that he’d like to see the playoff expanded beyond its current four teams.
And, yet again, Leach made the case for a 64-team field.
“I don’t know why you don’t have 64 teams,” the Washington State coach said according to the World Wide Leader. “The notion of pinpointing and selecting four perfectly, well that’s not going to happen. That can’t happen effectively. …
“It’s remarkably easy. If you’ve got 64, there wouldn’t be a lot of debate. … It would be indisputable that it was settled on the field and somebody that wins playoff games accordingly deserves to be champion and there’s no debate. It would be great fun to watch — just like it is at all the other levels.”
The closest any level of football gets to Leach’s number is the FCS with 24 teams qualifying, up from 20 just a few years ago. The former Div. 1-AA, though, only plays 11 regular season games, with last year’s champion, North Dakota State, playing 15 games counting the playoffs.
For Leach’s proposal to work and garner any type of support, you’d have to get the most powerful conferences in the country to roll back the regular season even further, to 10 games, which would keep any team that made the title game in that size field at just 16 games played; Ohio State and Oregon, the two College Football Playoff championship game qualifiers, played 15 games and even that amount raised a bit of a ruckus from those concerned over player safety.
And even getting to that number, the 10 regular season games, is not as simple as waving a magic wand and getting all on board with wiping out two potentially lucrative regular season games as well as a lucrative conference championship game that benefits all league members.
Despite the CFP’s protestations to the contrary, the field will expand, sooner than later, from four to eight teams, and possibly even 16 on down the road. Getting to Leach’s ideal number? You never say never, but that will never happen in my lifetime. Or the lifetime of my children, for that matter.