Utah coach Whittingham says 16 might be right for the College Football Playoff

By Teddy Greenstein

Chicago Tribune

Mike Leach, you’re not alone. The free-thinking Washington State coach has called for a playoff that includes “at least” 16 teams.

That opinion normally draws eye rolls from college football officials who want to preserve the importance of the regular season —and preserve the bodies of the non-salaried players.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is also gung-ho about the prospect of expanding the playoff from four teams.

In a phone interview with the Tribune on Tuesday, he said: “Eight would be much better. I’ve been on that side ever since it came out. Four was a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. I don’t think there is any doubt that eight is coming. It’s just when —and it may even go to 16 in the final analysis.

“There’s no question to me that when you have five power conferences and an independent like Notre Dame that will always be in the conversation … why have someone award (a bid) to you after a debate instead of proving it on the field (by winning a conference)? It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Whittingham called concerns about negatively impacting the regular season and adding an extra game for the players “overblown.”

“You’re talking about one more game if you go to eight,” he said. “At every level, there is a playoff system (with at least eight teams). Why can’t we have one?”

The Utes are a remarkable 11-1 in bowl games under Whittingham. Utah plays Northwestern in the Dec. 31 Holiday Bowl.