How to Fix the College Football Playoff
If you listened to our most recent podcast, you would’ve heard a little bit of college football to start off the conversation. During that I brought up the idea of expanding the CFP to more than 4 teams. Whether this means expanding to 6 teams, 8 teams, or even more, it’s definitely an idea that might be gaining traction after such a weird college football season.
The current format for determining the national champion began in 2014. Before that, the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the country would face off in the BCS National Championship Game. Now, the top four teams face off in a small playoff for the right to be named national champion. However, are four teams enough to make up a real playoff? It’s starting to feel like this may not be the case, and this year is a perfect example of why it might be time for an expanded playoff.
You’d think an undefeated season would be enough to get you into the playoffs, right? While it was for 11-0 Alabama and 6-0 Ohio State, 9-0 Cincinnati finished the season ranked at #8. 11-1 Coastal Carolina? They finished #12. The rankings favour the bigger football schools, and rightly so. They play in the toughest conferences, against the toughest competition, and they should be ranked highly at the end of the season. But this current format makes it seem like smaller schools have no shot at all of making it to a meaningful football game. If it was going to happen any year, it would’ve been this year with how messed up 2020 has been. It’s clear that the College Football Playoff will always reward the big name schools at the end of the season.
So how big should the playoff be? I think that six is the magic number. The committees in charge of ranking teams weren’t thrilled when the format changed to include four teams rather than just the top two, so the odds of them expanding to eight teams seems highly unlikely. Six teams would see #1 and #2 have a bye to the semis, while #3 plays #6, and #4 plays #5. We all know that the NCAA loves making money (without actually paying their athletes), and a couple extra games including some teams that typically aren’t involved in the playoffs would be a good way to attract more viewers. It would also mean that a team that isn’t typically a football powerhouse, such as Cincinnati, is rewarded for a strong season.
Will this ever happen? Probably, but who knows when. It seems like this topic comes up every year around this time. Fans feel like their team got ripped off because the committees love Alabama and Ohio State, and rightly so. Ohio State played six games this season and are ranked #3 in the country, so it’s fair that some people would say they aren’t deserving of that spot. Six teams wouldn’t solve all of the problems with the current format, but it would sure be a lot better than the mess of a format that the NCAA has now.
I think an 8 team format would be better, for then, only a few would argue that the right team didn’t win the national championships. But regarding teams like Cincinatti and others, teams that don’t play many of the power five teams, usually unranked teams, the case for giving them a shot loses some credibility. In order for such teams to garner higher rankings, they would need to play at least a couple top 10 teams, then beat them, handedly. There are a few polls, and they pretty much agree. **To make the point, though more bluntly, it would be akin to a pop warner team playing against top high schools.
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