Alabama AD is already lobbying for SEC teams in expanded CFP

With the introduction of the expanded twelve-team format this upcoming season, a 9-3 team making the College Football Playoff no longer seems far-fetched.

Southeastern Conference leaders already argue that a 9-3 SEC team would earn a CFP berth given the strength of the conference.

“If you’re playing a tough schedule, you might want to consider a 9-3 team,” Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. “I heard we’re pretty good at football in the Southeastern Conference.”

SEC teams could face a tougher road to the CFP. In his final Top 25 rankings after the spring, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach ranked five of the 16 SEC teams (Georgia, Texas, Ole Miss, Alabama and Missouri) in his top 10.

Not a 9-3 team has played for a national championship since the BCS/CFP era began in 1998. The 2007 LSU Tigers are the only two-loss team to win a title.

Although the new format offers more spots, they are still expensive. The five highest-ranked conference champions automatically qualify, leaving seven at-large bids, determined by a thirteen-person committee.

Does this leave 9-3 teams out of the picture? Not necessary; Dodd notes that 28 teams with at least three losses would have made the 12-team CFP if it had been held over the past 26 years.

Additionally, the committee may want teams to schedule high-stakes non-conference games that draw large crowds. Last season, a Week 2 game between Alabama and Texas (then in the Big 12) peaked at 10.7 million viewers, making it ESPN’s most-watched regular-season game since 2015.

“There was so much excitement in the country that week. You want good games like that,” Byrne said. “I certainly hope that those last few places in terms of qualifying for the play-offs, the strength of the schedule is recognized. Otherwise why would we play the games?”

Don’t be surprised if the conference gets what it wants and a 9-3 SEC team ends up making the expanded CFP.

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