Kirry: Utah College Football Playoff Berth May Force Expansion
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The idea of a potential first-ever College Football Playoff berth for Utah Football has fans excited, but that would mean missing the Rose Bowl, a long-desired destination for the team.
Utah is on pace to have its best season ever since moving to the Pac-12 and are No. 8 in the initial College Football Playoff ranking.
Being in this position seemed nearly impossible even when the Utes upgraded to the Pac-12 Conference nearly a decade ago.
Count KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell as a believer way before the first rankings came out. Back in 2018 and well before the status of quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss were known, Mitchell predicted the Utes would make it to the playoff.
Sitting in eighth creates a path for the Utes to crash the playoff party since the SEC and Big Ten have teams ahead of the Utes that all play each other. If Utah takes care of business they have a chance to achieve the preseason expectations and beyond.
“What is amazing is that we are having this conversation. These are the choices and is a cool thing to talk about and so much better than talking about the Cheeze-It Bowl,” Mitchell said.
Rose Bowl or College Football Playoff?
The options for the Utes if they win the Pac-12 Championship are clear – go to the Rose Bowl or get invited to the playoff.
However, Alex Kirry and Mitchell asked fans which they would prefer, going to the Rose Bowl or going to the playoff and losing the first game?
Mitchell and Kirry disagreed on the postseason destination they’d prefer. Mitchell favored the Rose Bowl and Kirry preferred the playoff.
“If you went into [the College Football Playoff] and knowing you were going into and lose in the first round or could have gone to the Rose Bowl instead, I would have gone to the Rose Bowl,” Mitchell said. “No one cares if you are out in the first round [of the College Football Playoff].”
Kirry countered Mitchell’s comment about losing in the first game of the playoff because making it as one of the top four teams and playing in the playoff is a much bigger deal.
“The playoff is a way bigger deal. You can go to the Rose Bowl other times in the Pac-12 because if you are the conference champion you go there,” Kirry said. “What you can’t do is go to the College Football Playoff every year, or at all.”
The reason college football fans want to see Utah in the playoffs is that it could force the sport to expand beyond the current four-team set up, according to Kirry.
“You want the Utes to go to the College Football Playoff because if they go, it makes the powers that be have to consider expanding the playoff because they don’t like the look of the teams that are left out if Utah makes the playoff,” Kirry said.
Mitchell countered with by saying Utah is on the rise and starting to be considered a national brand but does agree with Kirry that the playoff would expand if Utah wins it all.
“If Utah won the national championship then there would be an outroar,” Mitchell said. “It would be so bad that they would cancel the season because they would say, ‘we gotta expand the playoff if Utah wins it.”’
Mitchell finally made his choice between the Rose Bowl and losing in the first round of the playoff.
“If you go and you lose in the first round, it is like you were never even there. It is like Notre Dame a year ago and people said they did not even belong in the playoff at all,” Mitchell said. ” My choice is that I want them in the playoffs, but if they are going to lose in the first round I want them in the Rose Bowl. It is only because Utah has never been to the Rose Bowl.”
The duo agreed – even if Utah does not make it to the College Football Playoff as a 12-1, Pac-12 Conference Champion, going to the Rose Bowl is a really nice consolation prize.