Here are the SEC football teams hurt the most by College Football Playoff not expanding
Nick Saban won't lose sleep over the College Football Playoff committee's announcement last week that the playoff will not expand beyond its four-team format until the 2026 season, at the earliest.
Neither will SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.
The current format works fine for the establishment. And the SEC – Alabama, in particular – heads the establishment.
The SEC has produced 10 playoff qualifiers in eight years, and an SEC team won the national championship in five of those seasons, including three in a row.
Nonetheless, multiple SEC schools would have benefited if the playoff had expanded to a 12-team format featuring six at-large bids.
On this edition of "SEC Football Unfiltered," a podcast from the USA TODAY Network, hosts Blake Toppmeyer and John Adams offer their SEC teams most negatively affected by the playoff remaining at four teams.
Here's their verdict:
Four-team playoff works great for ... Alabama and Georgia – The Crimson Tide has appeared in the playoff seven times, with three national titles during that span. A bigger playoff would prolong its route to the title game. Georgia, with two national championship game appearances in the past five seasons, has emerged as a force within the current model.
12-team playoff would be a boon for ... LSU, Texas A&M and Florida – These programs are often considered to be near the SEC's upper crust. Texas A&M is on the rise under Jimbo Fisher, and although LSU and Florida are coming off lousy seasons, they should quickly rebound under new coaches. Nonetheless, the Aggies and Gators have never made the playoff in the four-team model, and LSU has qualified just once, with its undefeated 2019 team. However, these three programs could become playoff regulars in a 12-team format.
12-team also might help ... Auburn, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky – These programs are unlikely to become playoff staples, even if the field expands to 12, but they could attain the occasional bid. Ole Miss would have been a playoff qualifier if the field featured 12 teams in 2021.
Four-team or 12-team, it doesn't really matter for ... Missouri, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt – These schools aren't making a four-team playoff but would be unlikely to make a 12-team field, either.
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Also in the episode
- Alliance members stood in the way of expanding the playoff to 12 teams, a model the SEC supported. Will the SEC decide to go lone wolf, plunder additional members on the heels of Oklahoma and Texas, and stage its own playoff? Alternatively, the SEC could co-op with the Big Ten to form a Power Two super-playoff that would make the other conferences irrelevant. Adams thinks the SEC will present some tough posturing but ultimately won't choose to go it alone.
- Saban said injuries and unprepared reserves cost Alabama the national championship in its 33-18 loss to Georgia. Is that a lousy excuse, or a fair explanation?
Where to listen to SEC Football Unfiltered
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John Adams is a senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. If you enjoy their coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. You can also subscribe to their podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered. They also host a podcast focused on Tennessee football, The Volunteer State.