By Steve Ross
Making The Case For Expanding the NCAA Playoff Field
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In 2014, the NCAA decided to do something smart for Division One Football. The decision to implement a four-team tournament style playoff to determine the National Championship winner made the sport much more exciting. For years, the number 1 and 2 team were usually not the best teams fighting for the Championship. In this case, the story usually ends one of two ways: Alabama ends up in the national championship and winning it. Alabama, the usual one seed in the four-team playoff, plays the team that is argued to get in every year. This year it was Oklahoma with Heisman winning QB Kyler Murray, who they handled in the Orange Bowl 45-34.
Alabama is a college football dynasty and Nick Saban is the Bill Belicheck of division one football. We know the Crimson Tide will be there every year, but how do you make that road harder for them? How do you really figure who the best team is in division one football? It's simple: make the great teams play against other great teams more often. More and more you see teams having easy roads to the college football playoffs now. Alabama is playing teams like Citadel in the middle of the season. This is more of an example of why there should be an expanded tournament.
The college football playoffs should be expanded to 8 teams. This makes the playoffs more interesting because now more great teams are playing great teams. Nobody is arguing who should get into the fourth seed anymore. One of the worst parts about college football is if a team loses one game in a season, their odds of making the playoffs diminish greatly. The argument between Ohio State and Oklahoma who should have gotten in this year was a hard case to settle, but the committee gave it to a Heisman winning quarterback that has to win games mostly by himself. Oklahoma ended the year ranked 108 in total defense. The other playoff teams this year, Clemson, Alabama, and Notre Dame let up 178, 193, and 207 points against opponents. Oklahoma let up 421 points against them this season. They judged Oklahoma's defense on a single sample size in the BIG 12 Championship where they held a depleted Texas Longhorns offense to 27 points. They did not give it to Ohio State who's quarterback finished 3rd in the Heisman voting and a better defense than the Sooners.
This argument would be settled because both teams would have gotten in. Let's not even get started with the Georgia Bulldogs who made Alabama work for their win in the SEC Championship. The University of Central Florida has won 22 straight games, in that span they have beat Auburn, an SEC team who plays Alabama every year. UCF does not have the same flash as a Clemson, Oklahoma or Ohio State, so how do they make a case to get into a four-team tournament? More and more you see Alabama blow the 4 seed out and make them just not look good, and the same will happen with an 8 seed they play if the tournament is expanded, but now there is more of a chance for a wild card team to get to the national championship.
In the NFL, their playoff format is designed perfectly where the division winner gets in, the best teams receive a bye and there are wild card teams. Why can't we see a similar format with the NCAA? In basketball, there is a 64 team tournament to decide the winner of the season. The college football committee was late on the playoff tournament decision, but now they must expand the size of the tournament to make the field more competitive.
By Steve Ross