Note: This is the second installment of what I intend to be a weekly series. Bear with me while I flesh out the concept and figure out what I want to do with this space. The only certain thing I can tell you is I’ll be talking sports — sometimes current happenings, sometimes previews, sometimes irreverent takes on random sports/sports-related topics. Let’s have some fun.
College football is nearly here, which means we’re only a few months (weeks) away from the hottest take in the sport: expanding the College Football Playoff. I figured I’d jump in front of that wave to give y’all my stance on the subject:
No, we don’t need to expand the damn playoff. Period. End of discussion. There is no perfect playoff system, but the one we have is as close as we’re going to get.
Yes, there will be years when there are more than 4 worthy teams, but not enough to warrant an expansion to 8-teams. Opening that door brings about the possibility of teams with three, even four losses making the playoffs. Nobody wants that bullshit.
Say we do expand to eight teams. How long until people start bitching and moaning for 12 or 16 teams when somebody “gets screwed” and finishes 9th instead of 8th? I put “gets screwed” in quotations because if your debate is whether you’re eight best team in football THEN YOU DO NOT DESERVE A SHOT AT THE FUCKING NATIONAL TITLE.
And don’t even dare bring me that stupid six-team playoff model where every power five conference champ gets in, with one at-large bid. Are you kidding me? Seriously? That’s just dumb and arbitrary. What happens when Wisconsin goes 7-5 and wins the Big 10 title? You know, like they did in 2012. Do you really think they deserve a shot at a natty?
I say all of this as someone who advocated for a playoff in college football for years before it was cool. I wrote articles on blogs and websites. I debated with friends about it. Not only did I want a playoff, but I wanted a 16-team playoff. My system of choice was one where every conference champ got an auto-bid, leaving five spots for at-large bids.
But I wrote and argued for that playoff back in the early-mid 2000s, before the conference realignment tidal wave changed college football to a world of haves and have-nots. Sure, there have always been blue bloods in the sport, but you could make a legit argument for the Sun Belt champion getting in and actually having a shot at winning a game in 2004. That position doesn’t hold water anymore, though. The gap has widened too significantly.
If inclusion for all FBS teams is the backbone of your argument for playoff expansion, I hear you. That was the basis of my pro-playoff stance all those years ago. It is unquestionably unfair that teams from the group of five have basically no shot to win the national title, or even a realistic path to a playoff berth. The way the system is setup allows them that path, of course, but it’s unrealistic to think an unbeaten MAC champion and unbeaten Big 10 champion would be viewed the same. They can’t be, truthfully. The resources of power five programs are vastly superior to those of the smaller schools, so much so that they’re not really on even playing fields. Or even close, for that matter.
If that disparity is what bugs you, might I suggest going in a different direction? Take the people who get paid to study these things for a living, and tell them to crunch the numbers and come up with the right number of programs for a true Division 1 in NCAA Football. Then adjust the lower divisions accordingly.
Traditionalists and the powers that be in college ball all love to tout that theirs is the sport where the regular season matters the most, as if that’s some sort of award-worthy achievement. If that were actually true, they’d realign the divisions and rules so we’d get less powerhouse versus helpless directional school, and replace it with a regular season full of P5 vs. P5 matchups.
Unfortunately, money is our one true god in college football, which means expansion of some sort is inevitable. Maybe then Auburn can actually get a berth.