Every year, four of the top-ranked teams from the FBS(The highest level of collegiate football, previously known as D-1A) compete in a four-team, three-game bracket for the National Championship. The playoff games are usually the best games from the whole year, due to the high talent level all teams bring to the field.
Yet it always feels like some teams get the short end of the stick and just could quite make the cut. Whether they took one bad loss in the season, rankings didn’t go their way, they didn’t have a hard enough schedule, the talent pool from high schools only got larger and teams will only get better, each of these might have made this even more of a problem. A simple solution to this problem is expanding the College Football Playoffs to six, maybe even eight teams.
The college football playoffs first were introduced to the FBS in 2014. The new format that was introduced by a committee made up of qualified, trusted individuals to rank the top 25 teams nationally, with playoff spots held for the teams ranked 1-4.
First, a bit of history: The first four to ever compete in the playoffs were Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State. Ohio State was the 4th seed and beat the 1st seed(Alabama) in semi-finals and the 2nd seed(Oregon) in the national championship to become the first National Champions through the CFB playoffs. In the same year, TCU and Michigan State just missed the top four rankings and were arguably more qualified than others that made it to the playoffs. Despite the spark in controversy towards the ranking system, the NCAA said the playoffs would remain the top four teams only.
Then, In 2014, there was a 12-year deal made with ESPN regarding the format and everyone that would be involved with possible changes said that the deal will stand as it is for the full length(According to cbssports.com). So, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will see any more than four teams in the tournament for some time. However, the committee should consider expanding.
A huge problem with the format right now is that there are not enough spots for a possible representative from each power-5 conference(generally accepted as the most competitive conferences in CFB). In some cases like the 2019 playoffs an Independent school(a college that is not in a conference)-Notre Dame- made the playoffs and two teams from the SEC also made it, resulting in only 2 out of the 5 conferences being represented.
An expansion to even just a six-team bracket would give all power-5 conferences a better chance at having a representative. Also expanding the playoffs would result in more competitive play in not just the playoffs but also the regular season. Teams would schedule harder games to prove their worth and strengthen their case for making the playoffs and it would make the ranking process easier.
The NCAA would also profit in this change because a lot of people watch these big games. People do not want to see Alabama play an FCS school, fans want close exciting games with the best talent. More teams in the playoffs result in more of these games.
Many have concerns around the expansion of the playoffs regarding the health and safety of the players. I assume that this could easily be avoidable by shortening the regular season or having two weeks in between each playoff game. There has also been criticism of some “blowouts” in the CFP, but these concerns have slowed down because of the recent spark in talent around college football.
Even though there is no talk about changing the college football playoffs format anytime soon it should not take away from what the CFP is right now. College football is as competitive as it’s ever been and the playoffs have been nothing short of amazing so far. But as a football fan myself I would hate to see any more competitive schools continue to miss out on the playoffs in the future.