CFB Playoff expansion is, and always will be, a mistake

College Football Playoff Ohio State Faces Clemson In Sugar Bowl
College Football Playoff Ohio State Faces Clemson In Sugar Bowl /

While many fans are adamant about forcing CFB Playoff expansion, there are reasons why the current format is just fine and doesn’t need to be tinkered with…much.

CFB Playoff expansion seems to be looming, thanks to the recommendations of the CFB Playoff working group, and if it happens college football fans may regret calling for more teams in the bracket.

Let’s run down the arguments — and my counterargument.

We’re tired of seeing the same CFB Playoff teams every year. 

Well, beat them in the regular season, or at the very least beat the teams on your schedule to get a shot at them.

The Group of Five teams will never be in the playoff under the current format. 

Schedule tougher non-conference teams, go independent and make your own schedule, or even make your move into a Power-5 conference if you think you’re team can handle that on a week-in, week-out basis.

(This one is my favorite)

The current system makes losing one game in the regular season too devastating. You can’t recover in many cases to climb your way back into the playoff. 

Right here is where we pull this bus over and escort the disillusioned off.

The football regular season should have that kind of importance. This isn’t college basketball with 33 games and multiple matchups against conference foes and a wide-open field of postseason teams now approaching 70. This isn’t college baseball with over 50 games, multi-game series against a single opponent, a conference tournament, and a drawn-out postseason.

This is college football. 11, maybe 12 games. One shot at your rivals. One. Shot.

Every week, every game, every opponent has meaning.

Lose to an FCS team, and you have a long road back to impress the committee.

Lose the big rivalry game, and it could spell the end of your conference championship hopes.

The Iron Bowl, the Cocktail Party, The Game, the Palmetto Bowl, the Red River Shootout, Bedlam, Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate — these games and others like them should have an impact on what happens in the postseason beyond just being classic rivalries.

CFB Playoff expansion would dilute more than just the regular season.

The College Football Bowl Season, fun as it is, has become watered down with too many subpar matchups with teams who barely broke .500 in the regular season. Expanding the playoffs to a possible 12 teams as the CFB Playoff working group has recommended would be the start of that happening to the sport’s meaningful postseason.

Let me repeat those two words.

Meaningful. Postseason.

I’d even go as far as to say exclusive, and that’s the way it should be. Making your way into a small postseason tournament should be a reward for doing what other teams were not able to accomplish. It pits the four best teams in the nation against each other, without the feeling of a “wild card” who wins by virtue of being hot at just the right time.

Let the NFL continue turning their postseason into milquetoast glory. Leave college football alone.

ALSO READ: Reactions to CFB Playoff Expansion recommendation

Now that’s not to say the current system doesn’t need some wrench turns and added weatherstripping. There are issues, and they need to be addressed. But throwing more teams into a system with unresolved problems is like throwing dry cement at leaks in a concrete wall.

For starters, let’s make winning a conference more meaningful. Alabama has twice been given the gift of national championship appearances — both in the BCS and CFB Playoff era — without the feather of an SEC title in their cap. If the Power-5 are truly the best five conferences in the nation, then winning one of those conferences should be a prerequisite for playoff consideration.

Incorporating the conference title as a means to enter the CFB Playoff would eliminate the multiple teams from one conference issue that most fans seem to abhor (outside the SEC).

Next, there should be a clear path for the Group of Five to make the final four teams. This can be accomplished without truly “expanding” the playoff field by borrowing an idea from the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Have a play-in game featuring the highest-ranked Group of Five team (with the caveat that they must at least be in the top ten) against the lowest-ranked team of the top four. Winner gets a semifinal bid. Make this play-in game one of the early Bowl Season games, one with a tie-in to the conference featuring the Group of Five team involved.

Finally, the CFB Playoff could use some balance of how the committee views the best teams in the nation combined with the dreaded computer rankings used in the BCS era. Take the best of both worlds. You can have some advanced analytics mixed with the perceived strength of schedule and all-important “eye test” running checks and balances against each other.

CFB Playoff expansion would hurt the regular season, would eviscerate the anxiety and thrill that comes with the final rankings release, and — most importantly — it would soften the water cooler chat, online debates, and entertaining conspiracy theories we’ve come to love so much.

No playoff system will ever be completely infallible, but expanding what’s working simply because teams who aren’t good enough to make it want an easier path will always be a mistake.

It’s a championship. It should be hard to obtain. As hard as it may be for some to imagine, not everyone gets a trophy. If you aren’t good enough, get better.

Next. Way Too Early 2021 CFB Top 25 Predictions. dark