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Powerful voices added to growing calls for expanded playoff

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If your part of the chorus calling for an expanded College Football Playoff, a couple of powerful voices have donned their robes and taken a seat in the choir.

Currently, four schools qualify for the postseason tournament that crowns a national champion at season’s end.  This year, with Notre Dame qualifying, it means that two Power Five conferences (Big Ten, Pac-12) are sitting on the sidelines; last year, with the SEC landing two spots, it was the same P5 conferences on the outside of the playoff looking in.

Add in unbeaten UCF, undefeated a second straight season, and there are a growing number of voices calling for playoff expansion when the current 12-year contract expires in 2026 — if not sooner in many cases.  A couple of those voices happens to be Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, with the former telling Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic that expansion — specifically a move to eight teams — is “an appropriate thing to begin thinking about.”

All three of the P5 leagues that have missed the playoffs on more than one occasion, the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12, play nine conference games; the ACC and SEC, which have either qualified in each of the five years of the playoff as is the case of the latter or in four of five for the former, play just eight.  Because of that imbalance, many are hoping — or pushing — for an expansion to be not a matter of if but when.

“Everyone has the same feeling; expansion is inevitable,” Alvarez, a former CFP selection committee member, told Auerbach. “When you can do it, and I think we need to serve more people. I think four was the right way to get started. In my opinion, we need to take a look of adding more teams into the Playoff, giving more opportunities. …

“I don’t know whether we’re serving all of our people now, when you have some leagues — our league (the Big Ten) as an example. Two years in a row, we don’t have anyone represented. The Big 12’s been the same way. The Pac-12’s been the same way.”

From Auerbach’s report:

There have been a number of informal conversations involving college football’s most important power brokers in recent weeks and months. The growing concern is that a system designed to nationalize the sport of college football — including a championship game that is played at different venues and will be held in the Bay Area for the first time this season — is being undermined and regionalized with teams from the Southeast regularly playing each other.

“The Playoff enjoys a level of support that I think is rather extraordinary,” Bowlsby said. “Would that (approval rating) go up if there are more teams involved? Probably. Does that mean it would avoid controversies? No, because you’ll always have arguments about the ninth and 10th spots. …

“Then, there’s the matter of how you do it. The devil’s always in the details.”

At least initially, you can forget about a 32- or even a 16-team playoff, with eight being the only number that most anyone of influence would be willing to consider.  One of the biggest questions when it comes to expansion might be what to do with conference championship games — keep them and push a potential schedule to 16 games for two teams or get rid of them and keep that ceiling at 15.  There’s very little question that the SEC, in particular, would balk at tossing aside its league title game for adding another round to the playoffs.

Of course, moving from a 12-game regular season schedule to one that consists of 11 games would allow championship games to continue on with an expanded playoff, but that won’t happen.  Ever.  Start the season a week earlier and hold the championship games the last weekend of November?  Certainly a possibility.

And, if another round is added, how do you fit them in?  Play them on the higher seed’s campus?  At neutral sites?  Again, more details to be worked out, although they shouldn’t be as hard to resolve as some would make it seem.

If all of the devils in the sport can somehow work out all of the details, the most popular model to replace the current one is this: each Power Five conference champion qualifies, as does the highest-rated champion of a Group of Five league.  The remaining two “wildcard” spots would go to the two highest-rated teams in the CFP rankings that didn’t win their conference.

Such a format this season would’ve left the field looking thusly:

  • No. 1 Alabama (SEC champ) vs. No. 8 Washington (Pac-12 champ, ranked No. 9 in CFP Top 25)
  • No. 2 Clemson (ACC champ) vs. No. 7 UCF (No. 8, highest-ranked G5 team)
  • No. 3 Notre Dame (No. 3, highest-ranked non-conference champ) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (Big Ten champ)
  • No. 4 Oklahoma (Big 12 champ) vs. No. 5 Georgia (second-highest-ranked non-conference champ)

In that format, Michigan, which was seventh in the last CFP Top 25, would be left out as they would’ve been leapfrogged by a pair of conference champions in Washington and UCF.

Some would also call for the same 5-1-2 model, but would seed the conference champs ahead of the two “wildcards.” This year, or any other year they qualify for that matter, that would leave football independent Notre Dame playing a road game if the quarterfinals were played at on-campus sites.

Then again, while Bowlsby is certainly a powerful voice in the sport, he’s just one of five Power Five conference commissioners.  Late last month, the SEC’s Greg Sankey stated that expansion hasn’t even been discussed.  And there’s the ACC’s John Swofford.

“I don’t think there’s a great shift in momentum to expand the playoffs,” the commissioner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in late November. “I’m not suggesting that it will never happen. You never say never.

“I don’t think that’s something that’s imminent right now.”

Even the Big Ten’s Jim Delany didn’t seem too concerned when he saw his conference champion not make the playoff for the third straight year.

The moral of the story, expansion proponents?  While it’s nice there’s some chatter among those that can help prompt change, don’t hold your breath for an eight-team playoff anytime soon.

Veteran WRs coach Gunter Brewer joins Louisville staff

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After a brief foray in the NFL, Gunter Brewer is back in college football and, more specifically, back in the ACC.

Brewer was announced as Louisville’s wide receivers coach on Tuesday, completing Scott Satterfield‘s initial staff.

This will be Brewer’s fourth different tour of duty in the ACC. He joined the conference as a Wake Forest wide receiver in 1985-86, then joined the Deacons’ coaching staff as a strength and conditioning assistant in 1986-87. He returned to the conference as North Carolina’s wide receivers coach from 2000-04, then coached the Tar Heels’ wideouts again from 2012-17.

In between those stints, Brewer has coached wide receivers at East Tennessee State, Marshall, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He has tutored two Biletnikoff Award winners and a third finalist — Randy Moss at Marshall (1997 winner) and Dez Bryant (2008 finalist) and Justin Blackmon (2010 winner) at Oklahoma State. (Blackmon also won the honor in 2011, but Brewer was at Ole Miss by then.)

Brewer spent the 2018 campaign as the wide receivers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. His NFL stint ended with Alshon Jeffrey‘s drop against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional round.

Les Miles hires NAIA head coach to Kansas support staff

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Stay with me here, but Les Miles has made a smart, visionary hire to help his offensive coaching staff.

Bethel University head coach Brent Dearmon is leaving his post to become a senior offensive consultant at Kansas. The announcement was made by Bethel; KU has yet to confirm the hire.

“It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to come back home to Bethel and help rebuild the program,” Dearmon said in a statement. “This place will always be very a special place to me and my family. Bethel molded me into the player I was, the coach I am, and the man God designed me to be.”

Dearmon led Bethel, an NAIA school in McKenzie, Tenn., to its best season in school history. The Wildcats went 10-1, including an undefeated regular season and a ranking as high as No. 3, while averaging a staggering 55 points and 540.3 yards per game.

Dearmon’s offense was the highest scoring unit not just in NAIA, but all of college football.

Meanwhile, Kansas is still without an offensive coordinator after Chip Lindsey left to become the head coach at Troy.

“We are happy for Coach Dearmon and this opportunity for him but at the same time we regret to see him leave,” Bethel AD Dale Kelley said. “He did a marvelous job and the team was exciting to follow. The excitement around the program this past year was phenomenal. We wish him and his family the very best.”

The 2018 campaign was Dearmon’s first as head coach at Bethel, his alma mater. He had spent the previous three campaigns as the offensive coordinator at Division II Arkansas Tech, and prior to that deposited two seasons as an analyst on Gus Malzahn‘s staff at Auburn.

Missouri, Colorado reportedly ink home-and-home to celebrate Fifth Down anniversary

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Colorado and Missouri are set to reunite to celebrate the anniversary of one of the most infamous officiating gaffes in college football history, according to a pair of reports.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Friday that the Buffs and Tigers will play a home-and-home in 2025 and 2030, which was confirmed on Tuesday by CBS Sports‘s Dennis Dodd.

The 2025 game will be in Boulder and the 2030 game in Columbia, according to the Post-Dispatch. Specific dates have not been disclosed.

The pair will “honor” the anniversary of the famous Fifth Down game, an Oct. 6, 1990 game in which officials mistakenly gave Colorado two second downs in the closing moments of their meeting in Columbia. That mistake allowed Buffaloes quarterback Charles Johnson to score a 1-yard keeper as time expired, allowing Colorado to escape with a 33-31 win. Adding to the controversy, replays showed Johnson’s knee was down before the ball reached the goal line, but Colorado was allowed to keep its ill-gotten win and went on to share the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, the school’s only title.

Colorado and Mizzou have not met since both schools left the Big 12 following the 2010 season. Missouri won the final five games, including a 26-0 blanking in 2010, and holds a 41-31-3 all-time lead in a series that dates back to 1930.

The series will not be the first time either school faces a former Big 8/12 bunk mate since their respective departures. Missouri has a home-and-home with Kansas State set for 2022-23, while Colorado faces Texas A&M in 2019 and ’20, meets Nebraska in 2023-24 and squares off with Kansas State in 2027-28.

Colorado is set to open its 2025 season with Georgia Tech on Aug. 30 and visit Houston a week later. Mizzou has games with North Dakota, Miami (Ohio) and Massachusetts set for 2025. Neither team has another game on the docket for 2030 as of yet.

Penn State transfer TE Danny Dalton lands at Boston College

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One of the dozen(ish) members of the Penn State football program who has decided to transfer from the Nittany Lions this offseason has found himself a new college football home.

Over the weekend, Danny Dalton took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer to Boston College and continue his playing career with the Eagles.  The tight end is on schedule to graduate from Penn State in June, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

Including the upcoming season, the Marshfield, Mass., native will have two years of eligibility remaining.

A three-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2016 recruiting class, Dalton was the top-rated player at any position in the state of Massachusetts.  After not playing at all his first two seasons in Happy Valley, the 6-4, 247-pound redshirt sophomore appeared in three games