College Football Playoff expansion has never made more sense

BY MAX BAKER, News + Record Intern
Posted 11/3/21

There’s not enough parity in college football.

Every year, the question is a matter of when, not if, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson will meet in the College Football Playoff. Since its …

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College Football Playoff expansion has never made more sense

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Posted

There’s not enough parity in college football.

Every year, the question is a matter of when, not if, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson will meet in the College Football Playoff. Since its creation in 2014, the College Football Playoff has featured just 11 teams, with Alabama and Clemson appearing in six of the seven years and Ohio State and Oklahoma four different times. Only four teams have ever won the title.

But for the first time this year, it seems we may have a little shake up. Clemson is struggling and eliminated from playoff contention, and early-season losses by Ohio State and Alabama have them on thin ice heading into tough November stretches. And this could mean chaos in the selection show with multiple schools having solid cases to make it.

Other than Georgia, which at this point seems like an almost sure thing to run the table for an undefeated regular season, the playoff door is wide open. Cincinnati, which gave the Bulldogs a scare in the Peach Bowl last season, is still undefeated and has bolstered its strength of schedule with a road win over Notre Dame.

The committee, however, has never allowed a non-Power Five school into the playoff. If the committee recognizes an unbeaten Cincinnati, that essentially leaves two spots for four conference champions. There is a very realistic possibility that a one-loss Big 10 champion, a one-loss Pac 12 champion and a one-loss Big 12 champion all exist in the final week. That doesn’t even include Alabama, which could play spoiler in the SEC Championship.

It’s time to expand the playoff.

In recent years, discussions have grown on the topic of increasing the number of teams to six, eight or 12. Arguments can be made that although it would give more schools a chance to win, the same dominant teams will prevail. However, if we continue to show the same teams on national spotlight playoff games, recruiting will only benefit them and it will be a continuous cycle. This could give the smaller schools a fighting chance.

The playoff system decreased the significance of playing in a bowl game. Nowadays, players are rightfully sitting out essentially meaningless games to stay healthy before declaring for the NFL Draft. If the games became more meaningful and their draft stock could improve, that would change. College football is more exciting when the best players are on the field.

Another argument is that it is a burden on the athletes to play the extra games. But what if we removed one non conference game from the schedule? Additionally, if it were an eight-team playoff, it would be one extra game for only four teams. It would also allow for more raucous home crowds, instead of only neutral-site games with little atmosphere.

Finally, there would be virtually no more controversial scenarios. Texas A&M seemed to have a compelling case last year with just one loss against the eventual champion Alabama, but undefeated Notre Dame nabbed the final spot.

Hearing UCF fans claim a National Championship in 2017 was funny, but it also showed a major flaw in the system.

An expanded playoff would change that.

Max Baker can be reached at max@chathamnr.com and @maxbaker_15.

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