Last night, the first-ever College Football Playoff concluded with the title game. It is time for College Football Playoff expansion.
That’s right: four teams is not enough. It should probably be sixteen, but that could be too unwieldy for many and not enough people would go for it. Eight sounds like a fine number; or, as Dick Van Patten might say, eight is enough.
So now you’re saying to yourselves: the first one we have ever had just ended yesterday, and you’re already betting on College Football Playoff expansion? For one thing, nobody is betting on anything.
It took a hundred years for this level of the sport to get something that could even be considered a championship game, and even at that, it was like old-time baseball where the two teams that won the pennant went straight to the World Series. The only exception is that those two teams that make it were determined by human analysis and a computer formula. Many good teams that slipped up a little and could have made the proceedings more fun were excluded.
Now, we are in a scenario where someone has to earn it on the field in the postseason at least twice after the regular schedule is done. It is still not enough.
The 2014 college football season has already made the case for College Football Playoff expansion in future years. Without a playoff at all, that tremendous game between Alabama and Ohio State never would have happened, nor would the game between the Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks have occurred. Ohio State would not be the national champion because they had a bad game against Virginia Tech way back in September. Instead, Alabama would have played Oregon and that would have been that. Who knows what could have happened if some of the “lesser” top ten teams were there.
The point is that both teams that played in the title game last night had to earn it. One could argue that they earned it throughout the course of the regular season, but there is something to be said for having to play a second season to win your trophy. Every other league imaginable, college or professional, has a playoff structure. It took college football until 2014 to get one of those, and of 128 teams, only four even have a chance to win.
The old system favored the elite few, increasing the amount of subjectivity in who the champion would be. The four-team playoff obviously has subjectivity involved as well, but the more teams you add, the less it matters. Of course, that has limits — you can’t be like the NHL or NBA where you let too many teams in the playoffs, but make teams work for it on the field.
Some would say they earned their championship during the regular season in the old system. You play the regular season to position yourself for the playoffs; this is how it works elsewhere in sports, and that is how it should continue to work here. Furthermore, having a playoff of about eight teams will still have all good teams in it. If expanded too far, like a basketball tournament of 128 teams, you would pick up some junk. Nobody could argue that an eight or even 16-team playoff would lack in quality.