P.J. Fleck, 35, is one of the top young college football coaches in America. He has led Western Michigan to an 8-0 record and a No. 20 national ranking. Outside of Tom Herman, there may not be a more highly coveted coaching commodity this offseason.
Unfortunately for Fleck, his Broncos have virtually no chance of making the College Football Playoff – even if they finish the regular season unbeaten.
Fleck would like to see that change.
“I think as we continue to go, I would really like to see that playoff system expand just a little bit,” Fleck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I really would. I would like to see it. Sooner or later, I think being able to guarantee a Group of Five (champion a spot) in a field of eight (and to have three at-large teams would be great). That way you can always have that Hoosiers story. You can have that Boise State-type run when we had the BCS system but still couldn’t get to the national championship. I think that would really benefit college football. I think everybody always wants to see that underdog-type deal. But again, I think that’s kind of the next step I think everybody sees. Eventually, we’ll continue to change.”
Based on this week’s AP Poll, the playoff would likely include Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington. If it’s expanded to eight, however, it would also include Louisville, Ohio State, Nebraska and Baylor. Some of those teams, of course, would likely be eliminated as the season goes on, which could open a slot for a team like Western Michigan.
Fleck, to be clear, does not dislike the playoff. In fact, he loves it. But it’s not a realistic destination for Western Michigan, which, with road wins over Northwestern and Illinois, has proved it can compete with Power Five schools.
“I love the playoff system,” Fleck said. “I’m a huge advocate of the playoff system. But I think as we continue to grow and make it better and have some tweaks, I think being able to find a Houston, a Boise – people like that – (would be good for the sport). To be able to plug them in eventually, to give them a shot at a round-of-eight or a playoff-type game to get into that (would be good). But again, then you’re talking bout 15 or 16 games for college athletes, and that brings up another point. But I would like to see it maybe expand a little bit and maybe see a Group of Five always guaranteed to be in there.”
Western Michigan will go for 9-0 at Ball State (4-4) on Nov. 1. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET.