College football playoff expansion? Mario Cristobal supports adding more teams

College football playoff expansion? Mario Cristobal supports adding more teams

The current College Football Playoff contract expires in 2026 and the desire for an expanded bracket is intensifying by many.

This year, NCAA coaches were polled to see if they were in favor of a larger playoff system. The results showed that 30 of the 62 head coaches that answered (LSU's Ed Orgeron, Alabama's Nick Saban and UCLA's Chip Kelly declined to vote) were in support of an eight-team bracket.

Both No. 6 Oregon and No. 8 Wisconsin likely would have been in an eight-team playoff, vying for the national title. Instead, the Pac-12 Champion Ducks (11-2) and the Badgers (10-3) are battling for the 106th Rose Bowl Title. The 'Granddaddy of Them All' is, of course, is a great bowl game with long standing tradition and an opportunity for both teams to end the decade with a substantial win.

While coaches do not have the power to change the current six-year-old format, here is where Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal and Wisconson Coach Paul Chryst, stood on a new format:

I think there's a lot of teams worthy of playing it out… I think anytime you could include more, right, in that particular – in that party, I think it's a good thing. –Mario Cristobal

You'd love to have obviously a six-year cohort and get all the data and see how it worked out and how it really played out. –Mario Cristobal

I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. So I want to make sure that part is clear. –Mario Cristobal

I think there's a lot that goes into it, and we're fortunate there's a ton of people that care about it. And so I'm going to let them figure it out. And like Mario said, this experience that our players get to be a part of, I think if you asked every one of the players, this is very unique, and I know both teams were grateful for it. –Paul Chryst

But just tell us what the rules are, and we'll work and try to do all we can to be the best team we can be. And if we earn the right for whatever it is, you're grateful for that. –Paul Chryst

In the current 12-year, $7.2 billion contract between ESPN and the CFP, nine of the 12 semifinals have been lopsided games. Most recently, No. 1 LSU steamrolled No. 4 Oklahoma, 63-28 in the Peach Bowl semifinal. Maybe two-loss, Pac-12 champion Oregon would have given the Tigers a better game. Maybe not.

So, whether adding more teams is a good decision based on the eye of the beholder, it appears that Coach Cristobal is in favor of the eight-team expansion.

Doesn't matter what Oklahoma did, the Ducks didn't deserve that playoff spot

Doesn't matter what Oklahoma did, the Ducks didn't deserve that playoff spot

LOS ANGELES -- You knew it was going to happen, right?

Oklahoma gets blown up by LSU in the first round of the College Football Playoff and Oregon fans couldn’t resist figuring that their team was much better than the Sooners and should have had that berth against No. 1 LSU.

I mean, I understand the way you feel. But I just don’t happen to agree with it. And I say that while believing the Ducks could very well be as good as Oklahoma. I’m not ready to say that Oregon is better than the Sooners, but maybe as good.

But they are not nearly as good as LSU. And I would have given them very little chance to beat the Tigers. They might have even “Soonered” it. And not making the Final Four was what the Ducks deserved.

Since there is such little crossover play between the Power-5 elite, the only way to try to figure out relative strength of teams is the strength of the league they came from. And sorry, I’m more convinced than ever that the Pac-12 is a sub-par excuse for elite-level college football.

I was mildly impressed that Washington was able to beat up on Boise State but not enough to convince me that USC getting pounded by Iowa and Washington State losing by 10 to Air Force weren’t a better gauge of the conference’s weakness.

Of course, the Big 12 and ACC are no great shakes, either. But I also had a hard time coming to terms with that brutal Oregon loss at Arizona State, with the playoff berth within its grasp.

A team good enough to be in the playoff takes care of business in that situation. It doesn’t stumble that close to the finish line with so much at stake.

And I’m not sure, Ducks, that you should have wanted any part of the LSU Tigers. That team looks to be a bit better than what I saw this season in the Pac-12.

Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title

Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title

Oregon is about to play as the underdog for the first time in 2019 in its most prominent game of the season: The Pac-12 Championship game.

Statistically, No. 5 Utah out-matches the No. 13 Ducks. The Utes have the Pac-12's best defense; a physical team that’s allowing only 56 rushing yards a game. Plus, Utah is the conference’s best rushing team, led by running back Zack Moss with a crazy efficient dual-threat quarterback at the helm in Tyler Huntley.

Also, the Utes are still College Football Playoff contenders looking to make a statement to the committee.

Alas, Oregon has something that Utah doesn’t have: Senior quarterback Justin Herbert, a young man who is looking to bestow a lasting legacy in his swan song season. The Eugene-native has the chance to validate his stamp of greatness and accomplish the goals he returned for in his final Oregon football season.

No one shoulders it more than him. His passion is almost… (pause)… You can almost taste it. You feel it on him sometimes. He is really excited (to compete for the Pac-12 Title). The biggest part for him, is another chance to play with an “O” on his chest with his guys in his senior year in a place he wanted to play. That’s really cool to see. -- Oregon offensive Coordinator Marcus Arroyo 

Following Oregon’s loss at Arizona State, which killed all hopes of a College Football Playoff berth, Herbert said “it means everything” to refocus and aim their ambitions at the Rose Bowl. The Ducks can guarantee a spot in the Rose Bowl with a Pac-12 title win.

Herbert’s coaches and teammates are inspired by his desire and heart as Oregon prepares to play Utah.

He’s the main leader on this team, so we follow what he does. Since Saturday’s game, he’s come out and been the focal point of the whole team. He’s leading the right way, showing by example and telling people what to do. We all follow what number 10 does and we love what he does. -- Troy Dye

Herbert’s message to Dye and the rest of the Ducks?

Compete, compete, compete. Leave it all out there. There are only two teams in the Pac-12 practicing this week.

The Ducks will need spectacular play from Herbert to take the title. A major key to victory will be finding success in the passing game, something that hasn’t been roaring in the past two games (two interceptions at ASU and recording the lowest yardage total of the season vs. OSU).

This is where Herbert’s undeniable talent, passion and love for Oregon come into play. Plus his arm, which compels NFL scouts to keep an analyzing eye on Herbert and project him as a first round selection in the 2020 NFL draft.

Herbert will set his single-season career high in passing (3,151 in 2018; currently 3,140) on Friday, but can he empty the tank and perform at his best against the best?

In the Herbert era, year-over-year the Ducks have shown progress, winning four games in 2016, seven games in 2017, nine games in 2018 and 10 currently in 2019, plus a chance at the Rose Bowl.

His chances to make an impact in an Oregon uniform are dwindling. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the powerful right arm and sneaky-fast wheels has an opportunity for the most substantial win of his Duck career on Friday in Levi’s Stadium.

Rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference vying for the crown… get your popcorn ready.

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

The College Football Playoff picture is clearing and with two losses, Oregon is no longer a contender.

With one week remaining in the 2019 season, the Ducks are No. 13 in the CFP rankings with a date against No. 5 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game. Oregon is looking for its first win over a top 5 team since the 2015 Rose Bowl against No. 2 Florida State.

Since the Ducks are out of the final four…

How can the Ducks fly to the Rose Bowl (for the eighth time)?

OPTION ONE

The Pac-12 North Division champion Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 Title game on December 6 in Santa Clara, California. Oregon will face Pac-12 South Division champions Utah in the Pac-12 Championship.

OPTION TWO

Another route to roses… If the Ducks lose the Pac-12 title game and the No. 5 Utes get into the playoff, Oregon could still go to the Rose Bowl as the conference’s next best team.

Oregon’s drop out of the top-10 hurt Utah’s resume as contenders, but Alabama’s second loss boosted Utah’s chances. The fourth playoff spot opens if No. 2 LSU beats No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship. Even if Utah beats Oregon, there's still a path for No. 6 Oklahoma to sneak in over the Utes. An impressive second defeat over No. 7 Baylor would make a strong case for the Sooners.

The Rose Bowl is played vs. a Big Ten opponent in Pasadena, California at 2 p.m. (PT) on January 1, 2020. Possible Big Ten opponents: Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

CAVEAT

If an Oregon loss to Utah causes the Ducks to dramatically drop in the final rankings, there is a caveat that would be relevant to Oregon’s chances to get to the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl traditionally selects the next-highest CFP-ranked team from that conference, but if there is one or more teams closely ranked, the selection becomes up to the discretion of and “will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game,” according to the Rose Bowl Management Committee.

USC is currently No. 22, so the Trojans could threaten the Ducks. In 2016, No. 9 USC was selected instead of Pac-12 South Champion, No. 10 Colorado. 

What is the next bowl game best-case scenario?

If Oregon loses the Pac-12 Title game and Utah is left out of the playoff and goes to the Rose Bowl, the Ducks are looking at the Pac-12’s No. 2 bowl tie-in, the Alamo Bowl.

(By the way, two Alamo Bowl representatives were in the press box on Saturday)

The Alamo Bowl is played vs. the Big 12’s No. 2 team in San Antonio, Texas at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on December 31, 2019. Likely Big 12 opponent: Baylor.

What about an at-large bid?

Auburn’s win over Alabama moves the Tigers ahead of the Ducks for an at-large bid for the Cotton Bowl. The Cotton Bowl is played in Arlington, Texas at 10 a.m. (PT) on December 28, 2019.

Oregon earned its first 10-win season since 2014 and has the opportunity to be crowed Pac-12 Champions. Now that the national title is out of the picture, senior quarterback Justin Herbert said, “It means everything” to learn from the Arizona State loss and refocus on finishing the season strong.