When the Bowl Championship Series gave way to the College Football Playoff three seasons ago, I thought that it was the perfect course of action for college football. It would finally move away from the corrupt system the BCS had become; all about money and ratings, not actually about crowning a deserving national champion. The first year of the Playoff proved why it was needed; #4 seed Ohio State defeated #1 seed Alabama in the first round and went on to win the National Championship against Oregon. However, a short three years later, it seems that we are all back where the BCS left off.
This season seems to have moved back towards "brand," ratings, and money, money, and more money. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Washington will participate in the College Football Playoff this season. There is no doubt that these are four of the best teams in the nation, but there is one team that is unlike the others...
Alabama, Clemson, and Washington all won their respective conferences, while Ohio State finished second in its DIVISION in the Big Ten. Penn State won the conference, beating Wisconsin in the title game, but ended up in the Rose Bowl against USC.
While getting a New Year’s Six bowl game is nothing to complain about, Penn State should have a case to be in the CFP over Ohio State. When the CFP was created, the committee that selected the four teams preached two very important factors: 1) win head-to-head matchups, and 2) win your conference. Penn State has both of those factors over Ohio State, beating them in Happy Valley and winning arguably the best conference in the nation. If these two factors truly meant something to the committee, the Nittany Lions should be in the four team playoff over the Buckeyes.
Ohio State is a fantastic football team, going 11-1 in a college football season is no small task, and should not go unnoticed. However, the fact that they made the CFP while Big 10 Champion Penn State did not proves that having just four teams in the playoff isn’t enough, especially with a Power 5 Conference Champion being left out. I propose that an eight team playoff be put in place. The structure of the eight team playoff is very simple: the five Power 5 conference champions, the highest ranked Group of 5 team, and two at-large teams.
For instance, if there was an 8 team playoff, this year’s field would most likely consist of these teams (most likely referring to the two at-large teams):
- Alabama (SEC Champ)
- Clemson (ACC Champ)
- Washington (Pac 12 Champ)
- Penn State (Big Ten Champ)
- Oklahoma (Big 12 Champ)
- Western Michigan (Group of 5)
- Ohio State (at-large)
- Michigan (at-large)
The eight team playoff gives ALL the Power 5 conference champions a shot at the title, no matter how slim they could be. Along with that, with the Group of 5 champ in there, it adds the element of the possible Cinderella story we all love during March Madness. The at-large teams are not conference champions, but still two teams that deserve a shot at the title. This season, three Big Ten teams would be in the playoff, up and down they were the best conference in the nation. Seeding could be based on how teams finish in the in AP Poll. These would be the matchups if there was this format this season:
(1) Alabama vs. (8) Western Michigan
(2) Ohio State vs. (7) Oklahoma
(3) Clemson vs. (6) Michigan
(4) Washington vs. (5) Penn State
The first round games could be the bowl games (Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta, for instance), and after that they can just be "National Semifinals" and the "National Championship." Adding these extra games could add more revenue to the whole system with additional TV slots, sponsorship, tickets, and more. This is a fantastic way to make a whole lot of money, but not taking away opportunities for a deserving team to get its shot at the National Championship.
The chances of the NCAA changing from the four team playoff are slim, and admittedly my proposal for the eight team playoff is mostly wishful thinking. That being said, I do believe it is a logical alternative to the four team, especially if chaos like this year occurs in the following seasons. This format would also save the committee from the embarrassment and outrage when they include (technically) the third-best team in the Big 10 in the Playoff, but not the Big 10 Champion.
So, what do you think needs to happen to the College Football Playoff? Expand it to eight teams? Keep it at four? Overhaul the entire system and have a March Madness-esque massive tournament? We could call it December Delirium....
Let us know in the comments what you think. I’m interested to read what you have to say on this topic?