College Football Playoff Expansion

 David Burnham ’20

It’s the evening after Selection Sunday, the day the four teams who play in the College Football Playoff are chosen, and the usual complaints are all over the internet. Ohio State got snubbed for the second year in a row! Why is Georgia even being considered, Bama beat them? Georgia gave an unbeatable team a real run for their money, do you really think their not a top 4 team? Is Oklahoma really a top 4 team? What more can UCF do? So I propose a way to fix the complaining; expand the playoff.

   At the end of the day there are 130 schools eligible to make the college football playoff and only four spots in the playoff. Now I do understand that the majority of these teams have no business being anywhere near the playoff but if you compare the College Football Playoff to the NFL where 12 of the 32 teams get a spot in the playoffs you see the ratios are much different. I am not proposing something that drastic like a 32 or even 16 team playoff; I have no interest watching Alabama pummel Boise State, but why not make it an eight team playoff.

   After the conference championships are all set and done there are around three or four teams in the conversation to fill the final spot. If the committee were to just add those teams then you would be looking at a playoff with either six or eight teams.

   Five conferences, the SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and PAC 12 are called the “power five conferences”. They are called this because the best teams play in these conferences with the exception of Independent Notre Dame. The other five conferences; the group of five contain teams who are usually not nearly as good as power five schools. There are also exceptions like UCF who has won 25 straight games. Two years ago both Georgia and Alabama made the playoff. Both teams deserved a spot, but it also left out three of the five power five conference champions. This is a big deal because each conference is basically a separate league. They each have a separate officials and the two teams who compete in the conference championship have the best eight game conference record not overall twelve game record. Each conference agreed to have their teams compete for the College Football Playoff. So if each conference has to agree to compete in the playoff for the playoff to exist why not guarantee that your conference has a spot.

   The playoff is basically a ten year contract that the NCAA has with ESPN. ESPN would love to expand the playoff as it would bring in more revenue. However not all schools would be on board. An expansion to either six or eight teams would add an extra week to the season and take a few bowls away. Bowls can be nice if you are for example a TCU fan and get to watch your team play an extra game against an unfamiliar opponent, but if you are a viewer with no allegiance you probably won’t watch FIU take on Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl.

   Here is what I propose. Let’s have an eight team playoff. Every power five conference champion is guaranteed a spot. (Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio St, and Washington) The best group of five team should be given a spot. (UCF) Then two wildcard spots saved for the best two power five teams who did not win their respected championship. (Georgia, Notre Dame)Notre Dame should be forced join a conference they should not get the special treatment they have received for so long. As for the bowls, we can keep the New Year’s Six and bowls with more tradition like the Alamo and Citrus Bowls, but let’s limit the more obscure bowls. They reward a mediocre season with a meaningless game.  

   The College Football Playoff improved how the National Championship is played, but there are still definite problems. I for one am sick of wondering which two teams will play Clemson and Alabama in the playoff. It’s time to mix things up. It’s time for a real Cinderella story. It is time for the playoff to expand.
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