College Football Playoffs: The Case for Eight
The playoffs are the best thing to happen to college football.
No longer is the NCAA championship determined by an arbitrary ranking.
Now it’s decided by arbitrarily by a selection committee.
Still, the College Football Playoffs are the best thing to happen. No longer is the champ crowned by a single game.
A playoff system makes sure that the best team isn’t allowed to sneak in via getting fat off of bad conferences, which the Big XII has discovered over the past couple of seasons.
Only four football powerhouses get to earn the right to battle for Larry Culpepper's trophy.
While many agree that the CFP is a good thing, there are doubts that a four-team playoff is good enough.
Let’s go back to the first year of the playoffs.
Baylor and TCU were both premier football clubs deserving of top rankings. While both finished 11-1, Baylor was the rightful Big XII Champ, as they had defeated TCU earlier in the season. Despite this, the Big XII commish presented both Baylor and TCU to the committee as co-champs.
Like that helped.
While there's no proof of it, there's speculation that the decision to make the two co-champs cost both teams a playoff spot.
The committee would've been hard pressed to have left out undefeated Florida State, but was either Baylor or TCU less deserving of a playoff spot than a similarly one-loss Alabama, Oregon, or Ohio State?
Maybe they backed into it, but the Selection Committee’s four choices were right in 2015. Sitting outside were a suspect Iowa team and a two-loss Stanford squad.
However, 2016 has underscored the point that four is simply not enough.
I'll agree that there are three teams in this year’s playoff that deserve to be there: conference champions Alabama, Clemson, and Washington.
What I cannot abide is big-brand Ohio State being put in when Oklahoma and Penn State won the Big XII and Big Ten respectively.
In an eight-team format, these conference winners would get the chance they deserve to play for a national title.
There are arguments against expanding beyond four. If the CFB is going to expand, why stop at eight? Go crazy. Have it be a full 64-team playoff like March Madness.
I agree there will never likely be a 'right' number of playoff teams, as the level of competition varies from year to year.
But I think an eight-spot bracket is a solid format. Besides guaranteeing all Power Five conference winners a spot, the Committee could select the best non-power conference winner or whomever else they deem worthy.
This would give teams like Houston, Louisville, or even Western Michigan a real chance to make the playoffs.
This leaves open the possibility of having multiple same-conference Power Five teams in the playoff without having to screw over one or more major conference winners.
There are those who would criticize this move to allow Other Five teams into the bracket. Wouldn’t it be a lowering of the playoff standard?
But what the hell? The level of competition is already suspect in the current CFB format. Of the four first-round games in 2014 and 2015, only two of them were decided by twenty points or less.
Of the two championship games, only the 2015 title game between Clemson and Alabama was decided by one score.
When you already have blowouts from the only eight teams to have made the playoffs -- including three 21-point smackdowns featuring only Power Five teams -- why not invite the Western Michigans of this world?
I’m not going to say that eight's the best number. Maybe it’s six, or ten, or something else. Nor will I state that the additional teams will ever win a title.
What I will tell you is I don’t think it's fair that Power Five conference winners and other undefeated teams are denied a chance to play in the CFB because some committee says so.