Ohio State football: Smith expresses concern about physical toll of larger College Football Playoff

Credit: Kirk Irwin

Credit: Kirk Irwin

Expanding the College Football Playoff has been a hot topic over the past year.

That continued during the Big Ten’s annual spring meetings outside Chicago this week.

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While Michigan State director of athletics Bill Beekman told the Detroit News "expansion is probably inevitable" and counterparts at Michigan and Wisconsin expressed interest in revisiting the criteria for making the final four, Gene Smith pumped the brakes a bit.

"I see the value of studying it," Ohio State's director of athletics told the paper. "I think it's worth looking at, but I think there's a lot of problems around it, I really do. I think you need to look at the wear and tear." 

He referred back to 2014 when the Buckeyes made the inaugural CFP and beat Alabama and Oregon en route to being crowned champions.

"I'm not so sure our guys could've gone another game," Smith said. "We played Michigan. We turned around and went to the (Big Ten) championship game. We turned around and played Alabama, and then you turn around and play Oregon. Most people don't understand the toll that takes on a young person's body. … And you're playing at the top of the pyramid against the best.

"I'd be a little bit concerned about student-athlete welfare from a health and safety view. So I'm not sure how it would work. I would hope there would be some gaps so that they could breathe."

Then-Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer expressed similar concerns at the time, but he was also among coaches who questioned how the committee has approached picking the field last summer at Big Ten Football Media Days.

“It’s very concerning,” Meyer said last summer. “Originally I was told about different levels, what’s important to make the playoff, and I don’t know if we live by that, but once again, that’s just my opinion.”

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His Buckeyes made the playoff in 2016 despite not winning the conference but were left out the past two years as Big Ten champs.

That has led to discussion of changing the Big Ten's divisions or how the conference title game participants are chosen.

The idea of eliminating conference title games in favor of another round of playoffs has also been floated.

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