What a year for college football it has been. For the first time in a while, the SEC encountered some competition for the title of best conference in college football. The Pac-12 emerged as maybe the deepest conference, and at the conclusion of the conference championships, the Big Ten owned three of the top seven spots in the College Football Playoff Poll.
Imagine the chaos there would have been if the BCS was still in play. Clearly Clemson would have been locked into the number one spot since they went undefeated, but five additional one-loss schools would have had a valid argument to being the second team in the championship game. This is why the College Football Playoff (CFP) is a genius move for the NCAA.
Aside from the obvious financial benefits, the CFP works because it keeps more teams involved all the way to mid-December. The BCS was a guarantee to always upset various fan bases at some point throughout the year, and there would always be controversy over who would get to be the second team to play in the championship game.
The 4-team playoff had been in the works for a while, but with it finally being put to use in 2014, there were still some upset schools that felt they got snubbed when the final poll got released. Going into the championship weekend in 2014, Ohio State was left out of the top four, with TCU taking the final spot. The difference between the Horned Frogs and the Buckeyes, was that the Buckeyes still had the Big Ten Championship game and TCU only had to play a weak Iowa State squad. Both teams destroyed their opponents, but Ohio State jumped TCU in the final rankings and the Horned Frogs missed the playoff. As a result, at the end of the first year of the CFP, fans and some critics were calling for an 8-team bracket.
Since everyone has different opinions on what should be done, let’s lay out the obvious benefits of both:
4-team: An argument can be made that this system would be more competitive because it forces every power conference to be concerned that they could get shut out of the playoffs. This would bring the best football out of every team throughout the year.
8-team: Adding four more teams and more games would bring much more money to the NCAA, but I think this would make the season and playoffs much more exciting and fair.
Why wouldn’t college football go to an 8-team playoff? When I said it would be more fair, I had the college basketball NCAA Tournament in mind. Every Power 5 conference champion would receive an automatic bid, and then add three at-large schools. This year is the perfect example as to why this would work. The playoff would have added Iowa, Stanford, Ohio State, and Notre Dame which are all brand names in the sport.
It would also give hope to other schools from non-Power 5 conferences such as Boise State, Temple, and Houston. These schools would never get consideration in a 4-team format. However, in an 8- team playoff, the committee would have to put these schools on the radar for a shot at a championship.
The game of college football has evolved over the last couple of years, and I do not think the NCAA is done making changes. The 8-team playoff is the way to go in my eyes. It gives more teams hope and it levels the playing field. The BCS is a thing of the past, and thankfully it was left there.
– Luke Maiers