OPINION: Why the college football playoff desperately needs to be expanded

Four teams face off every year in the current College Football Playoff.

phpto by Pickleat via Pixabay.com

Four teams face off every year in the current College Football Playoff.

Mitchell Wood, Sports Editor

The love for college football is felt throughout the country, yet when the final weeks of the season roll around, fans are left unsatisfied with a flawed season finale.

For the past seven college football seasons, the best team in the nation has been decided through a four team playoff made up of the best teams regardless of conference affiliation. The playoff committee evaluates every team based on their win-loss record, strength of schedule and other factors to determine which four teams make it in. 

To give a better understanding as to why this current system is flawed, we need to look back to the previous postseason system from the 2013 season and earlier.

This system was the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). In order to determine the major five bowl game matchups, including the national championship game, the BCS system would use a combination of both voting polls and a computer selection method to determine who would play in which game. This system was ridiculed for years given the clear issues it created on an almost yearly basis.

In many instances, schools from non-power-five conferences would go undefeated in the regular season but still not be allowed a bid in the big game. When these smaller teams would get a chance in one of the other top bowl games, they proved they could hang with the big dogs. Non-power-five teams boasted a 4-2 record in BCS bowls with zero appearances in the national championship.

Finally in 2012, a plan was announced that would change the postseason to a playoff. Fans were ecstatic at the time about what this could enable and what kinds of unique matchups would come in the future. 

Fans tend to love a tournament/playoff setting. On the other side of things in college basketball, the March Madness tournament sweeps the nation every year with excitement – not to mention the countless other professional leagues with a playoff systems implemented are the highlights of their seasons.

Yet when it was finalized, the NCAA settled on a playoff with an underwhelming four teams.

Fast-forward back to today, prior to the current 2021 season, only 11 unique teams have made a top four spot for the postseason, and both Alabama and Clemson have made six of seven appearances in the playoff. Those two teams have also made up three of the national championship games. 

Boring, predictable and repetitive is an understatement. Senior Collin Meyer agreed, saying, “When it’s so small we only see the same teams over and over each year. Fans are tired of seeing the same teams play each other.”

Not only that, but one of the previous grievances with the old BCS system in that non-power-five schools were never given a chance has yet to be addressed given their whopping zero appearances in seven seasons.

It is not like they have not been pulling their weight either. 

This point was best proven during University of Central Florida’s (UCF) 2017 and 2018 seasons. In 2017, UCF, a non-power-five school, was the only team in all of college football that year to boast an undefeated record, yet were only placed at number 12 in the final rankings going into the postseason. 

They went on to win their bowl game, finishing as the only team to go undefeated that year. The following season they would go on to win during the regular season again. Accompanied with A 25-game win streak going into the final rankings where they were still placed at an insulting seventh, with three teams ahead all with losses in their 2018 record.  

The idea of a four team playoff is a misleading marketing scheme that tricks fans into thinking there is an actual tournament going on while still as close to a duplicate of the previous BCS system. After seven years, fans are not as naive as the playoff committee may think when year in and year out they see the same matchups, the same snubbs and predictable outcomes. 

Change is not only wanted for the college football playoff, it is becoming more and more of a necessity for both teams and fans. Teams from every conference across the nation that perform like contenders deserve a chance at chasing a championship, and their fan bases deserve to root for them in their postseason journey.

Those in favor of change are mostly in agreement to the idea that it needs to be expanded to either eight or 16 teams. Fans love when they get to see big upsets and games going into overtime, and with more teams in the mix the more jaw-dropping moments are bound to happen. More teams also means more fanbases get invested into the tournament as opposed to writing off another season even after being dominant.

Freshman Austin Kwak is an avid fan of college football at PV and is a part of that demand for change. “Right now the playoff is 4 teams, which I think is unfair to the teams that work so hard all year just to get another pointless bowl game and no chance at a championship,” he said. “I would like to see it expand to 8 teams to give more opportunities and more variation to the teams in the playoffs.”

Instead of rewarding some of the most successful teams of the season with bowl games that will never equate to a national championship, it is time to bring them into the fold and compete for the top prize in college football.

This change would have been huge for Meyer, who is a fan of Iowa State, last season. “Being an Iowa State fan we were on the brink of the playoffs last year but didn’t end up making it. If it was expanded it would have been a great opportunity for our school,” he said.

It is time that the NCAA and the playoff committee address the glaring issues facing the current postseason set-up. Teams and fan bases are tired of the monotony and deserve a change that does not only benefit them, but rekindles love of college football to millions across the country.