This year, just like every year, there is controversy surrounding the college football playoff. Ohio State defeats Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship and gets snubbed. Auburn defeats Alabama, and Georgia and Alabama both get in.
The bottom line, as always, is where the bias lies from the committee. This goes beyond fan subjectivity — there is areal issue with the playoff. It’s flawed, and what’s perhaps most infuriating for fans of at least two or three major teams every year is that the fix doesn’t have to be a complicated one.
It can actually be pretty easy. There doesn’t need to be a bunch of committee-meeting jargon about why top-rated teams get in over conference champions or why Team A gets in over Team B because of strength of wins, or why Team X fails to get in because of a lack of competition.
Just expand the playoff.
To six or eight games. It’s that simple.
If it’s eight teams, it creates a standard bracket, in which case seeds No. 1 and No. 8 face off, seeds No. 2 and No. 7 face off, and so on. The winning team moves on.
In the case of a six-team playoff, it mirrors a single-conference NFL playoff. The first two teams get a first-round bye week, so to say. Otherwise, you have two first round games, and then two games to decide the Championship.
And it’s not like the list of disadvantages is a long one. In fact, I honestly can’t think of one apart from the fact that large committees are, almost by nature, averse to serious change — sometimes any change at all. If it works, it works. Minor flaws or not, why fix what’s broken?
But while it’s easy to get complacent, it’s also hard to dismiss the clear advantages of an expanded playoff, both financially and in terms of entertainment value.
More games equals more money for the NCAA. End of story. More prime-time, playoff-level games will lead to more advertising potential during television airtime, which means the financial benefits are all-encompassing.
On an equally-prudent level — the entertainment level — the results are also much more acceptable for a larger fan base. There will always be controversy in a committee-oriented playoff, but with more teams are represented, that controversy will be less objective amid fans, analysts, and most importantly, the teams and staffs chosen to be represented or left out.
A playoff with six or eight teams would both allow for more leniency with including conference champions as well as the top outside teams — and it’s the belief of many that this would lead to fair representation when it comes to what the playoff is all about: the best that college football has to offer.