Expanding the College Football Playoffs would benefit the sport
When the NCAA did away with the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and instituted the College Football Playoff (CFP) system for the 2014-15 season, many viewed it as a step in the right direction.
With the way the BCS worked, many teams were snubbed out of certain bowl games and in some cases, national championship appearances. In theory, installing the playoff system was going to eliminate any potential snubs, as the best four teams would play it out in order to determine a national champion.
While the playoff system remains far superior to the BCS, it provides a new set of problems.
In 2014, the undefeated Baylor Bears were left out of the four-team playoff in favor of a one-loss Ohio State team because the Buckeyes won the B1G Ten, while Baylor captured a share of the Big 12 title.
Baylor was not the only team with a gripe in 2014, as the TCU Horned Frogs were also left out with a record of 10-1 heading into selection day. TCU’s only loss came to a top-five Baylor team, while Ohio State’s loss came to an unranked Virginia Tech squad. The Horned Frogs clearly had the stronger resume, but like Baylor, did not win the Big 12 since at the time, it did not have a conference championship game.
With two teams getting snubbed, the media started to wonder if the College Football Playoffs should be expanded to eight teams. It was an intriguing topic, but an unrealistic one given 2014 was only the playoff system’s first year in effect.
Fast forward to 2017 and the debate to expand the playoffs is back in the news again after an Ohio State team that lost two games but won the B1G Ten was left out in favor of an 11-1 Alabama team that did not play in its conference championship game while also playing a relatively weak schedule.
Given that with each passing year it seems like more teams are deserving of a chance to compete for a national championship, now is the time to expand the playoffs to eight teams.
When it comes to expanding the playoffs, there are a few options. It could simply include the top eight teams and seed them accordingly, which not many people would complain about. However, there is a more intriguing option, which could make the playoffs more competitive and appealing to viewers.
The winners of the ACC, B1G Ten, Big 12, SEC and PAC-12 would receive automatic bids into the tournament and the committee would seed those five teams accordingly. The other three teams in the playoffs would consist of three wild card teams that did not win their conference.
For example, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia and USC would have received automatic bids into this year’s playoffs, while Alabama, Wisconsin and Auburn would have made up the three wild card teams, as they were ranked the highest out of any team that did not win their respective conferences.
Sports fans love the NCAA Tournament and watch it religiously, hoping for a shocking upset that could turn the field upside down. While the College Football Playoff system would not include a 64-team field, imagine if an eight-seed took down a one-seed and national championship favorite in the first round?
No matter how one looks at it, expanding the playoffs in college football could only help the sport. A more intriguing playoff system would draw in more fans and bring about an increased number of competitive, meaningful bowl games.
Tyler Calvaruso is a journalism major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.