Some of my thoughts on college football.
By Noah Johnson, Staff Reporter
More football? Seems like an easy answer: yes! More playoff football? Absolutely! This may be an easy answer for us, the viewing audience, who enjoy watching as much football as possible, but the NCAA has been historically slow in adapting its FBS playoff system to give us what we deserve.
For fifteen years (1998-2013) the NCAA had only one BCS National Championship Game. This gave us one true “playoff” game to enjoy, not counting the numerous bowls that took place as well during this time that didn’t result in a National Championship.
Finally, in 2014, the NCAA converted to a “Top 4” format. This gave fans a “playoff” format for the first time. Now instead of one championship game, audiences got to enjoy three playoff games. Along with this came the new “College Football Playoff Rankings,” determined by a 13-member committee.
This leads to an annual, loud debate over who the committee has included, and over who they have left out. Why doesn’t the Big Ten Champion always deserve inclusion? Has the Rose Bowl lost most of its significance because of this? And what about UCF, a “Group of Five” team, that in 2017, went undefeated, beating a “Power Five” Auburn team in the Peach Bowl, leading them to call themselves the real “National Champions” amid the clatter for their inclusion in the playoff? These questions could have a very simple solution: expand the playoff to 8 teams.
Why would expanding to eight solve a great deal of these problems, and be better overall for the NCAA and its viewing audience? First of all, the NCAA has been on the record about their desire to offer the most opportunities possible for its student-athletes. This would provide hundreds more students with the opportunity to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime FBS championship.
Teams like 2017 UCF, whose records remained unblemished could be rewarded for their hard work with a chance at history-making. Along with this, teams that win conference championships that feel they deserve the chance to compete for a national title could be included, perhaps automatically, or just through the ranking system. This would raise the number of playoff games from three to seven, which is still incredibly low compared to other leagues.
The NCAA basketball tournament has 67 playoff games, while the NFL has eleven. The NBA and MLB have “best of 5 or 7” series, which puts both of them at a far higher number as well. This endeavor would certainly increase gains in revenue for the NCAA too, as more fanbases would be engaged in the playoff. More venues would get to host playoff games, more networks could carry playoff games, and fans would get to follow three rounds of playoff football instead of just two.
There are many reasons why the NCAA should seriously consider changing its playoff system to eight teams. Football continues to be America’s most popular sport, so what could adding more football do to harm the sport of NCAA college football? The answer is to be expected; it wouldn’t! It would help the game of football at the college level to become even more popular, prominent and meaningful in the lives of so many on and off the field.