Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby hasn’t been a fan of expanding the playoffs.
As recently as the Big 12 championship game earlier this month, Bowlsby said: “You have to be slow to move away from something that’s been that successful.
“Will it ever happen? I don’t know. I would never say never. But we haven’t had any legitimate conversations about it to this point in time.”
At the conference championship game, Bowlsby cited the College Football Playoff receiving an approval rating in the 80s by fans.
But that was a day before blue blood programs such as Ohio State and Georgia were left out of the CFP mix despite having a resumes that some argued warranted entry.
Bowlsby has apparently softened his stance on the idea of expansion.
“It’s an appropriate thing to begin thinking about,” Bowlsby told The Athletic earlier this week.
That’s a notable change in stance. Along with his statements at the Big 12 title game, Bowlsby told the Star-Telegram earlier this season that a change wouldn’t be coming soon.
“The fact is at a purely practical level ESPN loves having five autonomy conferences chasing after four seats, and I think the drama of having somebody like a Central Florida that goes through the season last year undefeated and vies for a spot in the playoff is really good,” Bowlsby told the Star-Telegram in September. “The narrative around the game is great.
“I wouldn’t say we’ll never go to it, but I’d be very surprised if we gave it any serious consideration until very close to the end of this current 12-year contract [that expires in 2026]. We haven’t had any conversations about expanding the field so far. This is a terrific enterprise and I just think we need to be really careful before we tamper with it.”
Less than three months later, tampering with it seems almost inevitable.
Bowlsby wasn’t the only notable college football executive who changed their stance on the expanded playoffs in The Athletic report.
Former CFP member and current Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said that “everyone” has the same feeling that expansion is “inevitable.”
That is something that most college football fans would welcome. It may push the approval ratings from the 80s into the 90s.
Now the question becomes whether to expand to 6 or 8 teams?