College football could be getting Playoff expansion, but not in the way you'd think


It appears that Penn State and Oklahoma fans aren't the only ones upset about the College Football Playoff.

According to an ESPN report, officials from the Group of 5 conferences -- the AAC, Mountain West, C-USA, Sun Belt, and MAC -- are considering their own playoff specifically for those five conferences.

"There is absolutely no ability for [Group of 5 teams] to be in that national title conversation," Northern Illinois AD Frazier said to ESPN. "That's just reality. Anyone that says we can: that's a flat-out lie."

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The College Football Playoff is in its third season of use this year, and no Group of 5 team has been ranked higher than 13th throughout the existence of the Playoff rankings. The Group of 5's only undefeated team this year, Western Michigan, is heading to the Cotton Bowl to play Wisconsin, but the Broncos coached by P.J. Fleck still only peaked at No. 15 in this year's rankings.

ESPN mentions that the current structure for this new playoff would likely be eight teams -- the five Group of 5 conference champions, plus three at-large bids. ESPN, NBC, and CBS have reported expressed interest in televising the games for such an event.

While the idea is being floated, it certainly isn't unanimous among Group of 5 officials. ESPN cites AAC commissioner Mike Aresco as having no interest in an extra playoff.

"The answer is an emphatic no," Aresco said. "We compete for national championships like anyone else in FBS, including the Power 5, and have no interest in any kind of separate championship."


The Group of 5 schools do have a point in that it will be difficult for them to ever get into a four-team College Football Playoff. Houston presented the best chance of any school this year, and it would have taken the Cougars going undefeated against a pretty difficult schedule featuring Louisville and Oklahoma to do so.

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Even one loss on that schedule -- Houston wound up with three in the regular season -- would have crippled any Group of 5 team's chances of getting into the Playoff. And even then, Houston really needed a 13-1 season in 2015 just to get on the radar for the 2016 season. Quite frankly, it's going to take several years of performing for any Group of 5 team to come close to having a shot at a national championship.

However, the same could be said for several Power 5 teams. Even with a near magical season this year, Penn State was left out after winning the Big Ten outright. Other teams like Oklahoma and USC were also left out of the Playoff despite strong performances to end the season. At the end of the day, you can only get so many great teams into the Playoff, and until Group of 5 schools can consistently prove themselves against great competition, they are going to be left out.