With November approaching, it can be said that we are now well into the college football season. Standings are straightening themselves out and good teams are distancing themselves from bad teams. There are just five undefeated teams remaining, and a good chance that that number will continue to shrink as the season rolls on.
The College Football Playoffs picture is beginning to take form, and while many people may disagree on which four teams should be in it as of this week, there are two clear candidates. Alabama’s dynasty continues to shine under the reign of Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide are 8-0 and have won seven of their games by double digits. Their signature defense continues to perform, but the offense has been thriving with Jalen Hurts leading the way. Alabama is ranked number one with good reason. The other obvious playoff candidate is Georgia, who just like Alabama are 8-0 with seven double digit victories. Adding to their resume, they defeated now #5 Notre Dame on the road back in September, proving they are the real deal.
So who else makes the four team cut? With two spots taken, arguments can be made for many teams. The Big Ten boasts three top ten teams in undefeated Wisconsin and 7-1 giants Ohio State and Penn State. The defending champion Clemson Tigers are 7-1 in the ACC with their only loss coming on the road after losing their starting QB during the game. The U is back and Miami is 8-0. Notre Dame has been gaining steam ever since falling to Georgia at home and is now 7-1. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both 7-1 heading into this week’s rivalry matchup. Out West, Washington is 7-1 in the PAC 12. The list could continue, but the point is clear; picking four teams for playoffs is too difficult.
By the time the regular season and conference championships are over, the picture will be less fuzzy, that is true. But in a sport with hundreds of teams and multiple conferences, you can’t just let records and standings speak for themselves. Experts and analysts have all kinds of different ways that they break down teams and figure out who they believe belongs in the top four by the end of the year, but it seems like an awful lot of work for something that will be controversial pretty much every time. Four teams is a bit too exclusive, and leaves fans wondering “what if?” about teams that just barely miss the cut. So why not simplify the entire ordeal by expanding the playoffs?
The small scale expansion to eight teams may be the easiest way to handle it. The athletes would only have to play one more potential game and figuring out all the logistics of where games will be played and what not would not be all that difficult. But why even stop at eight? March Madness is one of the most wonderful times of the year because everyone loves to see the chaos of 64+ teams battling their way round by round towards a championship. With such a physically demanding sport like football 64 teams would be a bit much, but if possible, the NCAA could make their playoffs a 16 team tournament.
With 16 teams involved, there will be no chance that a real contender misses out. If your team is not in the top 16, there is good reason for it. An expanded playoff would make for more upsets and an evened out playing field. There would be no missing out by teams that may have had a chance like Penn State, Wisconsin and USC last year. Everyone deserving of a chance would get one, and fans would get exactly what they want: more football. It seems like a no brainer to expand the playoff system and rumors about doing so have been murmured about since the playoffs were first introduced in 2014.
Hopefully in the next few years we will see changes made, but for now, we will have to live with the four team system and see how things pan out over the next month and a half. Top ranked teams will have to keep clawing their way to victories, and running up the score when they can — whatever it takes to impress the selection committee.