This weekend is the conference championships for college football and for some of the teams, a chance at making the playoffs. As it is for all sports, only so many teams can make the playoffs. But for football, is four teams in the playoffs enough? The argument for only four teams is that only the best of the best should be able to challenge for the College Football Championship. Since 2014 the only teams that have made the playoffs have been from the Power Five conferences. These five consist of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC. Expanding the format from four to eight will add four extra teams that have been on the cusp in the past to be given an opportunity. Here’s why the committee should make the change.
Make The Playoffs Eight Teams
Eight teams. One from each of the Power Five conferences and three wildcards. This way teams like UCF have a chance to prove that they belong. UCF hasn’t lost since 2016 and has a chance this weekend to win their second straight Conference Championship. The committee and analysts believe that UCF does not deserve an appearance due to strength of schedule. But it’s not UCF’s fault that there is not much competition in the AAC. Last year when given a chance, they defeated No. 10 Auburn in the Peach Bowl. This win was even more impressive due to the fact that Auburn was the only team that beat Alabama last season. UCF declared themselves champions and threw a parade despite Alabama having the official title. UCF is almost guaranteed to miss the playoffs due to the committee, but if they win their last two games, expect another parade.
Adding three wildcards can be the answer for non-Power five teams. In no way should the playoffs be the number 1-8 teams on the polls. Last season UCF was number 12 at he time the committee chose who went to the playoffs. They didn’t become number seven until they won their bowl game. By then it was to late. At the same time, a wildcard should not be held for a non-power five teams.
To find the perfect blend, the committee would look at what every team has done. While that is the method they use now, in an expanded field the committee should be more lenient to teams such as UCF. Going undefeated last year in the AAC is not that impressive to some. But looking at how UCF dismantled the teams in their conference last season should be enough to make the playoffs in a field of eight. If a team is in a similar situation as UCF in the future, this new playoff format would benefit them.
It also prevents what happened last year to Ohio State. They won the Big 10 but the selection committee chose Alabama over them. As many remember, Alabama went on to win the Championship. It came down to the fact Alabama’s only loss was by 12 points to a ranked opponent. Ohio State, on the other hand, lost to Oklahoma and Iowa. The Oklahoma loss was acceptable, but the Iowa game was embarrassing. Un-ranked Iowa defeated Ohio State by 31 points. Despite the two losses they were still the Big Ten champion and one of the best teams in the league.
A similar situation is unfolding this year. Oklahoma and Ohio State are both vying for a spot, as is Georgia and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are almost guaranteed a spot despite not having a strong strength of schedule. Georgia faces off against Alabama in the SEC Championship and will be an automatic lock if they pull off the upset. That makes things interesting. What happens if Ohio State and Oklahoma win the Big 10 and Big 12 respectively. Does the committee choose a one-loss Alabama team for the second year in a row over two Power five conference winners? Enlarging the field will eliminate this dilemma that has become a reoccurring nuisance, to say the least.
Changing the playoff format would allow for teams to not have to go through what Ohio State did. The new format would make sure that the best team from each of the Power Five conferences receive a bid. Then three wildcards would allow for a non-Power Five team a chance to compete with the best as well as a deserving runner-up. If the playoffs were expanded, we will be able to tell if UCF and teams like them, deserve their claims of being National Champions.
Featured Image From Pentagram.com.
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