Will New Playoff Format Spell DOOM for the Pac-12?

Joshua Whitted Editorials

Playoff expansion is a win for all parties involved, right? Fans would get to see more, varied teams in the postseason. All of the Power Five conferences would theoretically have representation. And the Group of Five would finally get a shot, with its highest-ranked conference champion guaranteed a slot. It’s a win-win-win.

Or so it would seem.

The college football world is a universe of “haves” and “have nots“, and for a while now, the Pac-12 has managed to narrowly stay on the good side of that arrangement. Although the product the conference has displayed in recent years has been underwhelming, it has maintained its standing as a Power Five conference, which gives it significantly more exposure — and most importantly, more money — than the Group of Five conferences that are nipping at its heels.

That could all change if the newly proposed 12-team playoff format comes to fruition. As the clear-cut leader among Group of Five conferences, the AAC could benefit hugely from a guaranteed annual playoff appearance. It would finally be able to capitalize on all of the television deals, big contracts and marketing opportunities that were previously exclusive to the Power Five. In other words, playoff expansion would give AAC programs big-time money. Money that could give it the resources it needs to overtake the Pac-12 as a Power Five conference.

The AAC is threatening the Pac-12.

Josh Pate from 247Sports spoke about this potential power shift recently on his show “The Late Kick“. Pate elaborates on this very subject, suggesting that all of the AAC schools that are located in recruiting hotbeds, such as Texas and Florida — schools that Pac-12 programs like Oregon have routinely mined for talent — will finally have the ability to keep local prospects home with larger budgets.

Pate didn’t pull any punches in forecasting the outcome of the Pac-12 as a result of this, saying, “They [the AAC] are going to overtake the Pac-12 in time if this [the new playoff format] goes through. I don’t see any way around that.”

Do you agree with this dismal outlook? Will playoff expansion lead to the end of the Pac-12 as a Power Five conference?

Joshua Whitted 
Morgantown, West Virginia
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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