Brian Kelly Favors Playoff Expansion, Rejects Criticism of Current CFP System


brian kelly notre dame

The College Football Playoff has only been around since 2014, but every single year that it has been in existence there have been plenty of gripes about who got in and who didn’t. Just like it was with the BCS system before it, and as it was in the pre-BCS days when the polls determined the national champion.

If and when they expand the system to eight, there will of course be complaints from the fans of team #9 and team #10. However, expanding to eight would almost certainly make sure that pretty much every team that is overwhelming deserving gets in. During the Notre Dame on-campus Playoff Media Day this past Saturday, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said that he is in favor of expanding the college football playoff field to eight.

national title game

“Well, certainly you can see that there’s five Power Five conferences, and then there’s the independent ranks,” Kelly said of the Cotton Bowl/National Semifinal, a game where his team will be double digit underdogs.

“Certainly if there’s going to be expansion of any kind, we would prefer that to include eight.”

“That gives the Power Fives, obviously their champions, and then opens up much more opportunities for at-large. More at-large opportunities. We’re forcing out a conference champion or we’re forcing out conferences that are in this CFP, and so that puts a lot of pressure on us every year relative to our schedule and what we need to do.”

In theory, every head football coach should be in favor of playoff expansion; or at least they should be. More playoff slots means more opportunities for coaches to realize their career goals, cement legacies at the institution and earn bonuses.

For those in the jobs with higher standards, an expanded playoff would of course give them a greater opportunity for better job security.

When the final CFP rankings came out on December 2nd and Notre Dame was in the final four, we saw lots of people upset about that. There were some hot takes, and then there were takes so scorching that they provided the capacity to heat your home this winter. We already covered that, and stated our rebuttals to those who didn’t want the Fighting Irish in. (Read that over at this link)

These talking points were briefly brought up to Kelly at Media Day, and he was also asked his take on whether or not the current system effectively crowns a bonafide national champion.

In his answer he harkened back to an aspect of college football that has very much defined the sport- argumentation. Debate about who is the overall best is very much ingrained in the entire history of the sport, and Kelly made allusion to that.

“Oh, it’s going to decide a true national champion, there’s no doubt about that,” Brian Kelly responded.

“I think, look, we could go back, what is it, 20 years or so when there was split national champions, and I think you go back further and some claim to be national champions. We’ve claimed National Championships where others have claimed them, as well.

“So I don’t buy the notion that it doesn’t clearly define who the national champion is.”

“Can you open up the field to more is really the question here. And I think that — I think that the narrative has been one of, well, we just entered into this agreement and we’ve just started this process.”

“I think we’ve journeyed into it a little bit deeper now that I think there’s probably, from a commissioners’ standpoint, an appetite to begin dialogue, but I’m just standing here as the football coach at Notre Dame.”


“I don’t have any inside information to share with you,” Brian Kelly added. “I can tell you that there is an appetite for conversation about it.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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