Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose team has appeared in seven of the eight College Football Playoffs since the beginning in 2014 and made the finals five times, warned of what effect the playoff would have on the bowl games from the outset. So, when he was asked this week about what was best for college football and the continued talk of playoff expansion, his response was to suggest asking somebody else.
“Look, I’m not the one who needs to be deciding what the playoff needs to be,” Saban said during Alabama’s video news conference Monday. “There’s a lot of good people out there that can make a decision as to what’s best for college football. But the more we expand the playoff, the more we minimize the bowl games, the importance of bowl games. Which is what I said when we went to this (a four-team playoff). So, I don’t think that’s changed. And I also think it’s come to fruition.”
Indeed, an increasing number of players are opting out of bowl games when their teams don’t make the playoff. But indications are that’s not about to get better.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is one of those in position to decide what the playoff looks like in the future. He’s for expansion, whether it be to eight or 12 teams, and he will be involved in discussions to that end this weekend in Indianapolis.
The CFP’s management committee — which consists of Sankey, nine other FBS commissioners plus Notre Dame’s athletic director — is meeting in Indianapolis this weekend to continue the conversation. According to Sankey, some actual decisions could get made this time. The presidents and chancellors also will meet Monday morning in Indy, where No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia meet in the eighth CFP Championship game Monday night (8 p.m., ESPN).
“I’ll walk in prepared to make a decision,” Sankey said on SiriusXM SEC radio Wednesday. “We’ve not been in a circumstance to do that as a group so far, and perhaps that can happen.”
Sankey went on to say he’s going in with tempered expectations because, “it’s an important decision and deserves the utmost care.” But he also said that there’s a consensus among college football leadership favoring expansion, and coming to the end of a 12-year cycle of agreements, “we’re not at a point of making decisions around that desire.”
James Cook has emerged as Georgia’s hottest offensive player this side of tight end Brock Bowers.
A senior running back from Miami, Cook is coming off one of the better performances of his career against Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Friday night. Cook finished with 131 yards and a touchdown on nine touches in the Bulldogs’ 34-11 victory.
That’s consistent with what Cook has been doing for Georgia the past five games. In those, he has totaled 464 offensive yards and five touchdowns on 51 touches. That’s an average of 9.1 yards per touch.
Increasingly, the majority of Cook’s big yards have come via the pass. His 11 catches over that same span have averaged 17.1 yards. He had three catches for 99 yards and a TD against the Wolverines.
All this has come while splitting time with junior Zamir White, who has started 11 of the Bulldogs’ 14 games at running back.
“I just try to make the most of my opportunities when I get the ball,” Cook said Wednesday. “When I get the ball, I think about going 80 (yards) every time. So, it doesn’t make me no difference who gets the ball.”
Running backs coach Dell McGee typically utilizes three backs a game. With sophomore Kendall Milton (knee) sidelined for the last half of the season, that primarily has been White, Cook and Kenny McIntosh. However, Milton returned to get seven rushing attempts late in the game against Michigan. Three of McIntosh’s six touches came on pass receptions totaling 32 yards. He also threw an 18-yard touchdown pass.
“As long as I keep making my opportunities count when I get it, then that’s going to work,” Cook said. “I don’t really need to get into the groove. As soon as I get the ball, I make all my opportunities count.”
Monken: No radical changes
Having coached four NFL seasons with two different teams, Georgia’s Todd Monken knows all about playing opponents more than once a season. The Bulldogs’ second-year offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach said making changes is important, but so is not making too many changes.
“They’re successful for a reason for what they do, and so are we,” Monken said Wednesday. “If you’re constantly changing what you do and your identity, I don’t think you’re going to be very good at anything. So, obviously we take from the things that we did well and build on that — and the things we didn’t do as well. Obviously, there’s calls that we had that in both games or other opportunities that we didn’t get called.
“So, we’re looking forward to the opportunity and the shot at it. And they’re going to get our best, I can promise you that.”
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