College Football Playoff: An eight team field will crown a true champion

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College Football Playoff: An eight team field will crown a true champion

Pranav Iyer

College football left its long lasting tradition of the BCS system this year. This old system decided the national champion with a battle between the number one and two teams in the country. Choosing two teams fairly from a list of 120 was nearly impossible given the fact that most teams play very different schedules. To remediate this problem, the format has been switched to a four team playoff this season, with the rankings selected by only human polls. Yes, it’s a step up from the previous BCS bogus, but this didn’t even come close to shutting down the controversy. This season, the first under the new system, the College Football Playoff, there were still several teams that were as equally deserving as the teams who were in the playoffs. This is just not fair to all those teams who have been working their butts off the entire season. And to add on to that, four teams just doesn’t feel like a playoff.

This is what this season’s playoffs should have looked like. Baylor, TCU, Mississippi State and Boise State, all teams that were excluded from the playoffs this season, would have made it in this format.

The two other major college sports, baseball and basketball have 64 and 68 team playoffs respectively. This not only gives little known schools opportunities to pull off big time upsets, but it gives every team a chance to make the dance. This is because there are automatic bids for each team that wins their conference title. But this is not the case in football. In the past, followers of the sports witnessed the undefeated TCUs and Boise States of college football get robbed of national championship berths just because they played in weak conferences.

Now here’s how it should be. Instead of a four team playoff, it should be doubled to eight teams. Although this is nowhere near the number of teams in the basketball and baseball playoffs, football is a completely different sport that is a lot more physically draining. This is why increasing the field to 16 teams or larger will put too much of a load on the players both physically and mentally. At the same time, four is simply not enough because there would not be the type of excitement and upset potential that is displayed in the expanded playoffs such as March Madness.

The eight-team field would consist of the top seven teams in the country according to the College Football Playoff Rankings as well as the highest ranked non-Power Five conference team, if they are ranked in the top 25. However, if there are none ranked in the top 25 or if the best non-Power Five conference team is already among the top seven, then the field would just be composed of the top eight ranked teams (it sounds confusing but it really isn’t). Here’s what this year’s playoffs should have looked like.

One team that many believe should have made the playoffs this year is TCU. Before the last game of the season, they were ranked number three in the country, ahead of Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor. But largely due to the fact that the Big 12 does not have a championship game, something that should become a necessity for all conferences, TCU dropped down all the way to 6th place despite throttling Iowa 55-3. They were kicked out of the playoff picture and controversy started rising.

There have been many teams in this season as well as past season that have been in the same bubble as TCU. The difficulty for filling the last spot usually revolves around who the best remaining one loss team is or whether or not an undefeated non-Power Five conference team is worthy of claiming a spot.

With the eight-team system, the difficulty in finding the right teams would be reduced drastically. For example, this year, every one-loss team in the country would have made the playoffs, eliminating controversy. If there were an undefeated non-Power Five conference team, they too would have made it likely because they would have been placed in the top eight. But if not, they still would have won the the eighth spot at least.

The higher seeded teams in the round of eight will be able to host the game, forcing the regular season to have more meaning. This will force teams to compete later on in the season, even if they know they will likely clinch a playoff berth. Not only that, fans would be able to witness their team host a playoff game, something that is impossible with the current playoff system as well as the the BCS system. The remaining three games would be played at the historic bowl locations, where the College Football Playoffs are played at now.

Now while many supporters of an eight-team playoff should give automatic bids to each conference champion in the Power Five conferences, this will likely increase the controversy. First off, this format would remove the automatic bid for the non-Power Five school that was mentioned before. Secondly, there would only be three at large spots remaining for the rest of the teams that had great season but were unable to win their conference championship. And many of these teams would likely be one-loss teams, which would bring us back to why an expanded playoff is more beneficial, which is to reduce the controversy.

Busted.

And then there are those who think adding more games will cause more injuries and ruin players’ draft stocks. But the playoffs would not end around the same time as it does now. Instead of more time to practice, the playoffs would start a week earlier. No matter if they are playing a game or practicing, the players are still at risk of injury. Oregon’s starting cornerback, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, severely injured his knee in practice, preparing for their semifinal matchup against Florida State, showing that freak injuries can happen anytime.

Busted again.

Remember, the reason for college football’s existence is its fans. They want excitement and that is what they deserve. An eight-team playoff will give fans not only the feeling of excitement but also the feeling of contentment, knowing that their team deserves or does not deserve to be a part of the playoffs.

A national championship, the silver crystal, is what every player, coach and fan wants. With this system, we can finally crown a true champion once and for all.