This article was first published on YahooSports.com on Dec. 15, 2018, and can be seen here.
No. 3 Notre Dame is getting ready for its first appearance in the College Football Playoff later this month.
Yet as expansion talk grows around the current four-team system, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn’t fighting it. He’s all for it — and thinks that the undefeated Irish can help speed up the process.
“We have a way of doing that to things when Notre Dame is involved,” Kelly said on Saturday, via ESPN’s Dan Murphy.
Kelly said on Saturday that he thinks the playoff commissioners now have “an appetite to begin dialogue” on expanding the playoff. He also said he would be for expanding to eight teams, giving the five Power 5 conferences a bid and then having three “at-large” bids.
“(That) opens up much more opportunities for at-large (teams),” Kelly said, via ESPN.“We’re forcing out a conference champion. We’re forcing out champions in this CFP.”
His opinion is in stark contrast of fellow head coach Dabo Swinney. The Clemson head coach said on Friday that he would rather see the playoff revert to a single championship game instead of expanding to eight teams.
No. 2 Clemson — who will take on Notre Dame in the semifinals of the playoffs at the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 — has made four straight playoff appearances, however, which likely plays in to why Swinney is against expansion. The current system is working for him.
Several influential people in the college football world, including Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Athletic earlier this week that they think expansion discussions will happen before the current contract expires in 2026.
Two Power 5 conferences have been left out of the playoff now two years in a row, something Kelly thinks will speed up the process, too. And when the current system is leaving out several playoff-worthy teams this season — like Georgia, Ohio State, Washington and UCF, among others — it’s likely that expansion talks happen sooner rather than later.