As the 2020 college football season draws to a close on Monday night, it already feels like time to look towards the future.
The College Football Playoff, for all of its possible flaws and shortcomings, seems to have a stranglehold on the sport, rendering other postseason bowl contests less meaningful. All eyes focus on the best four teams in the nation, while the remaining competitors get pushed to the side.
Florida head coach Dan Mullen recognizes the ebbing tide in college football and spoke about his beliefs on Monday.
“What bowl games mean are really special,” Mullen said on ESPN ahead of the national championship. “I think when the playoffs started, you knew expansion would have to come. I was watching a clip on the 150th anniversary of college football — just happened to turn it on — and Bobby Bowden is on there saying ‘as long as we keep bowl integrity, we’ll be okay.’ When the playoff started and it went to four games, I think it became a matter of time. Now, is that time now, or in the future? But I think what we have to do to expand the playoffs is be willing to let go of the old system.”
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Mullen’s Gators were one of the teams that suffered by not making the CFP. Florida played shorthanded against an Oklahoma team in this year’s Cotton Bowl and got blown out 55-20.
Mullen continued by reminding fans that change is already happening. With pundits and fans alike pushing for an expanded playoff, the current bowl system seems to grow more obsolete by the second.
“It’s going to change,” Mullen said. “I think you have to be ready to just embrace the change. Let’s kind of start over, maybe, and say, moving forward, this might be the best way to do it. Now, for a lot of people, that will be a sad day.
“I’ve played in this (venue at Hard Rock Stadium) back in 2014 at the Orange Bowl, and the great thing people forget about with the bowl system is that they had a beach day. I had guys who’d say ‘coach, I’ve never seen the ocean before and this is the coolest thing.’ Now the experience of going for a week to a bowl game … to enjoy the whole bowl festivities is great, but with the playoff, I think college football is moving in a different direction from that, and we have to be ready to accept that if we’re going to expand.”