Although in college basketball, everyone has a chance at a national championship, the media still calls us and other teams mid-major so I doubt the media will stop saying Group of Five.
I’ll take that back. I have not really heard them call us mid-major in a while.
The value of G5 access trickles down to other parts of programs. Multiple G5 coaches and athletic directors said Playoff access would help in recruiting. Even low Power 5 schools with no chance at the Playoff sell recruits on their conference and what kind of spotlight that means. They portray the Group of 5 label as a step down. If there is a path to an expanded Playoff, not only would that pitch go away, but the top G5 schools would have a better chance at making the Playoff. Suddenly, they’d be the ones with the better pitch for success on the field.
Houston athletic director Chris Pezman played football at UH back in the days of the Southwest Conference, before the BCS or Power 5 labels existed. He’s seen UH’s perception change as its conference changed. He knows this expanded Playoff could swing momentum back in the other direction for certain G5 schools.
“It absolutely helps,” he says. “It’s part of the overall package you talk to kids about and it removes another barrier. They say, ‘You’ll never play for a championship in that league because they can’t get into the Playoff.’ It removes that argument.”
It also opens an intriguing scenario for coaches, where the top G5 jobs would become even better jobs. Luke Fickell’s salary is $3.4 million, more than many P5 jobs, and Cincinnati is and should continue to be one of the top G5 teams. In a 12-team format, why leave for another job that isn’t among the top few? Cincinnati’s path to the Playoff would be easier than places like Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas State or other middle-tier P5 jobs, and the pay might not be much different.
The Athletic’s Max Olson ran the 12-team Playoff setup through the past decade. In those hypothetical scenarios, UCF and Boise State would have made the Playoff three times each. That’s more than Auburn or Michigan.
Dana Holgorsen left West Virginia for Houston in 2019, as many felt he’d maxed out what he could accomplish in Morgantown, and Houston could pay a similar salary, currently $3.8 million. At West Virginia, his best teams barely cracked the top 20, and getting past a perennial power like Oklahoma just wasn’t going to happen. At Houston, a 12-team Playoff path could have fewer major hurdles. More moves like Holgorsen’s could happen more often if the money is right.