#collegesafety | Jack Swarbrick addresses player safety concerns with expanded CFP

Changes to the College Football Playoff are on the horizon. Earlier this week, a working group representing the CFP announced its plans to recommend an expansion for a 12-team format that could be approved as early as this summer.

The proposed model includes the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus six at-large spots. In that format, there are first-round bye weeks included but only conference champions will be eligible to obtain them. If the recommendation is approved, then teams that do not receive a bye in the playoff will have a longer, harder path to the National Championship.

One of the other biggest concerns accompanying this expansion proposal is player safety given there will be more games added to the postseason schedule. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who was on the CFP working group, recently explained why he thinks the built-in bye will work.

“Well, I’ll take the first shot at that,” Swarbrick said. “One of the things that were so attractive about the application of the bye in this model was the positive impact it had in that regard. When you add the bye to the fact that it’s unlikely teams in the playoff will also play in a bowl game, that means in the first round, a third of the teams or a third of the total field of 12 will play the same number of games they would have in a normal year with a bowl game.

“The bye works so that the most any one of those teams could play in addition would be one game. The route to get to 17 in this model isn’t impossible, but there have been a lot of things built in to make that highly unlikely.”

Swarbrick has been one of the more surprising supporters of the recent CFP expansion, despite it not benefitting his own school. Considering Notre Dame plans to maintain its independent status, the Fighting Irish will not be eligible to get a bye in the playoff, which will make them a lower-seeded team.

“I didn’t go into it thinking 12 and I certainly wasn’t thinking about implications of 12,” Swarbrick said on a conference call on Thursday afternoon. “You needed to keep the broader interest of the game in mind. We all understood that. From my perspective, it was an appropriate trade-off to get a model that I thought was the right one for college football. Even though we don’t play in a conference, I recognize the importance of strong conferences and providing opportunities to the G5.”

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The College Football Playoff committee released a statement that they are in the first steps of the process and that it may not conclude until this fall.

“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the members of the four-person working group said in a statement. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”

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