Playoff Expansion Would Signal End of CFB We Know and Love

Ohio State Football Urban Meyer Buckeyes


I have been in several arguments over the past week or so.

They had nothing to do with climate change, which political party I belong to, or whether Kim Jong Un truly can reach us with a nuclear weapon.

No, somebody will just send me an email or leave me a voice message saying, “They need to expand the college football playoff …”

That’s enough to bring the gloves off.

Ah, the memories have come flooding back to me …

In the old days when polls annually determined college football’s national champion (from 1935-97), I used to always hear this from fans: “When are we going to have a playoff like the NFL?”

Then came the Bowl Championship Series, which pitted the two top-ranked teams in the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar or Orange Bowls to play for the national title, thus forever eliminating split national champions.

And I would hear, “This BCS is crap … when is there going to be a real playoff?”

Finally, the powers-that-be instituted a four-team playoff system in 2014, and things went splendidly for the first three seasons as Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson were crowned national champions, respectively. (Outside of the Big 12 and its members, TCU and Baylor, getting peeved over the Buckeyes’ selection that first year, there hasn’t been much controversy.)

Until this past Selection Sunday.

Since, the College Football Playoff committee’s selection of Alabama (11-1), which did not win even the SEC West, over Big Ten champ Ohio State (11-2), as the No. 4, seed, all I have been hearing is, “When will the playoff system expand to eight – or better yet 16 – teams?”

My email inbox has been overflowing with angry Buckeye fans who feel jilted over the decision.

I will get right to the point: Expanding to eight teams would be a terrible idea. Expanding to 16 teams would ruin the game of college football.

“I agree completely,” Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley said. “We have a hell of a product here. We coach the greatest sport there is in this country – because there is no prolonged playoff system.”

Let’s go back to the beginning …

College football has been under constant evolution since teams from Rutgers and Princeton played the first-ever game in 1869.

The forward pass was invented and the “flying wedge” deemed illegal in 1906, in order to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that were plaguing the sport. Touchdowns, originally counted for two points, did not count for six until 1912. Leather helmets gave way to hard-shell helmets in the 1950s. Within a few years, face masks were introduced to reduce the amount of missing teeth and broken noses.

By 1936, a poll system was introduced to rank the teams and determine the game’s national champions. For the next 38 years, voters (coaches and media members) voted, the polls were released and national champions crowned at the end of the regular season – before the bowl games were even played.

Sadly, I am old enough to remember national champions being awarded in early December. That all changed in 1974, when the poll-makers agreed to wait until the New Year’s Day Bowl games were played before naming their respective No. 1 teams.

You may not be old enough to remember it, but that was real progress.

Many earlier years provided pure controversy, as schools claimed bias that their teams were not crowned national champions. A few of the infamous split titles occurred in 1954 when Woody Hayes’ fourth team claimed the Associated Press title and UCLA the United Press International title; in 1970, three teams claimed titles; in 1978 in which USC and Alabama split; in 1990 with Colorado and Georgia Tech; and as recently as 1997 when Big Eight champ Nebraska finished unbeaten but was slotted for the Orange Bowl, where it beat Peyton Manning’s Tennessee team, to be voted No. 1 in the coaches poll.

Across the country that day, Big Ten champ Michigan finished unbeaten and held off Washington State in the Rose Bowl and was voted No. 1 in the AP poll. (For the record, Tom Osborne’s Huskers would have kicked the dog-poo out of that Michigan squad if they had met on the field).

So then we moved on to the Bowl Championship Series. Remember the much-maligned BCS? Let me tell you, over 15 seasons, the BCS earned much less respect than Rodney Dangerfield, believe me.

Still, from 1998-2013, the BCS determined the sport’s national champions and resulted in some of the most memorable championship games in the sport’s history.

Who could forget Ohio State’s remarkable upset over No. 1 Miami, which rode a 34-game winning streak into the 2003 Fiesta Bowl? Or Texas’ rally to upset USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl — deemed the most-exciting finish in the sport’s history. Under previous arrangements, Miami would have gone to the Orange and Ohio State to the Rose Bowl in 2002; Texas would have gone to the Cotton and USC to the Rose after the 2005 season.

But even the BCS wasn’t enough.

So college presidents approved the playoff system we have today and ESPN promptly ponied up a remarkable $7.3 billion in a 12-year contract to televise all the playoff games, and immediately was overjoyed with the overwhelming ratings. The first semifinals were witnessed by approximately 28 million viewers for each game. Ten days later, more than 35 million viewers witnessed the first playoff title game, which Ohio State won by beating Oregon.

There would be plenty of viewers, but would college football teams have enough healthy bodies to put on a good show?

Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer addressed the issue three years ago, saying the NCAA-mandated 85 scholarship limit per school would need to be increased if the playoff field was increased.

“You can’t do that,” Meyer said of possible expansion during that first playoff run in 2014. “You better give us 110 scholarships then … when [it moved to] 85 scholarships there were only 12 games. Now there are 15 (if a team reaches the championship game) and the last three they added aren’t against smaller [schools]. They’re heavyweight prizefights. Our last four games will be against Michigan, Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and now Oregon. Those are big-time, physical football games. The Alabama game alone was a sledgehammer of a fight.”

Expansion is a bad, bad idea. On so many levels.

For so many reasons:


As it is, the four-team playoff simply added another game – the championship game. An eight-team playoff would add four more games, and another week to the season. An unthinkable 16-team playoff would add 12 more games and two more weeks to the season.

There isn’t another week, let alone two, on the college football calendar in December in which to pull it off – unless they eliminated the conference championship games.

“I like it as it is,” Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said, “but if they expanded to eight, there is no way to do it but to eliminate the (conference) championship games.”

And if you counter by saying reduce the regular season from 12 to 11 games or even 10, then you are cutting revenue from hundreds of games from hundreds of schools (there are 130 schools in FBS football) to add four or eight playoff games. That makes no sense.

Remember, there were no conference championship games until 1992, when the SEC expanded from 10 to 12 teams and added a title game. Then the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC soon followed, since all the conferences had expanded to two divisions.

These title games generate revenue for all the conferences’ schools, not just the participants.


If there were playoff expansion, it would be impossible to do it without a seeding process in which the top seeds would host the first rounds, much like the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) does it. It would be impossible to hold three rounds of games, let alone four rounds, at neutral sites.

Can you imagine Florida, Florida State or Miami playing a road playoff game at Michigan or Ohio State in December?

The fairness issue would be front and center and there would be constant debate over seeding. And if the playoff were expanded to eight teams, there will always be the ninth-best or 10th-best teams saying they were robbed of their right to make the playoff. Ditto for 16 teams.

Doesn’t ESPN pontificate for hours over the teams left out of the NCAA’s 68-team basketball tournament?


Football players are “student-athletes,” after all.

When would the first round of four games be held? It’s just a fact that most major universities hold final exams anywhere from Dec. 1-20 each year, ending before the Christmas break. And that would be the exact period of which first-round games would be played, unless the playoff stretched to mid-January, when the new semester/quarter has already begun at every university around the country.

“You know, our guys … they actually go to class, and they have final exams all next week,” Swinney said.

And this would also bring out the NCAA’s critics who want student-athletes paid, an equally dastardly idea.

Yes, go ahead and pay them – and watch all the non-revenue sports go the way of bell-bottoms and fuzzy dice and be abolished. Then we have a problem with Title IX, which declares there needs to be an equal amount of female athletes on scholarship as male athletes.


If the playoff remained in neutral sites …

The fears BCS proponents had when moving to the four-team playoff was adding an extra bowl game per fan base. Would one team’s fan base be able to support two post-season games in a neutral site each season?

The Rose Bowl during the first playoff season illustrated this point. When Oregon faced Florida State in that first-ever semifinal, they were selling tickets outside that famed venue for as little as $15. And by kickoff, there were several thousand empty seats.

Since Florida State had played in the Rose a year earlier, and with Seminole fans not known as having a huge travel contingent to begin with, the fans who wanted to see them play this post-season seemed to be hoping they would win the Rose Bowl and then show up for the championship game in Dallas.

TV ratings made up the financial difference, but who wants to see these games played in front of empty seats?

And if the playoff were expanded, the problem grows worse. If there were neutral site games, in which a team advances from the quarterfinals to semifinals to championship game, no fan base is large enough to support three games.

For example, if Ohio State had to play a quarterfinal game in New Orleans, then a semifinal in Pasadena and a championship game in Tampa – in essence three bowl games in three separate locations – how many fans can afford to travel and see all three?

And the Buckeyes have one of the most rabid, loyal fan bases in the country. You put that scenario to Miami or Florida State or Mississippi State, let me assure you most fans would pick one of the three games to attend.

The result: Empty seats across the board for playoff games.


And what about the bowls, which have been a large part of Americana since 1935?

If the playoff were expanded to eight teams, it would be a death-knell for the bowl system, many believe. And let’s face it, bowl games and their traditions are unique to and have been great to college football as well as local communities, dating back more than a century to the first Rose Bowl. Ask many former college football players about their favorite moments as a student-athlete, and they will tell you it was a week of sun, fun and camaraderie with their teammates at a bowl site.

“Bowls still give the opportunity to a lot of teams to go to play in a bowl game and end their season with a win, and there is nothing wrong with that,” Swinney said. “All these other sports, only one team ends their season with a win.”

“Expanding the playoffs would minimize the importance of the other bowl games,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said. “Remember, but last year two good players from two good programs chose not to play in their bowl games, because of their NFL future, and their teams were not in the playoff. And if we go to eight teams, it won’t be long after that people will be clamoring for 16,

“And I don’t care if we go to 68 teams, but they will still hold a two-hour show about who didn’t get in it — just like they do in basketball.”

Also, remember that bowl payoffs, in the millions per school, help pay for non-revenue sports. Do you know that Ohio State leads the country with 36 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports? If you take away the bowls, and the number of teams that can participate in post-season games, many of major-college football’s 130 schools will begin cutting non-revenue sports such as field hockey, swimming and diving and water polo.

Is that fair?

Because I got news for you: The Purdues, Vanderbilts and Boston Colleges of college football aren’t making the playoff very often. So if you take away a source of income like a bowl game from them, they will be cutting their athletic budgets and the playing field will be even more lopsided.

All these issues seem to be moot for the real decision-makers, at least for the moment.

The executives of the playoff committee, the Power Five Conference commissioners and the university presidents – have said repeatedly that the playoff will remain at four teams for at least the length of the 12-year contract. Of course, all contracts can be amended.

“It’s a four-team tournament for 12 years,” College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said. “There hasn’t been any discussion in our group about expanding.”

I have some insight into Hancock’s beliefs here. I worked for him when he was the BCS commissioner, and he asked me to write op-ed pieces and press releases promoting the BCS and then the four-team playoff, demanding I take a stance against expansion to eight or 16 teams.

He had the right guy, because it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

“Regular-season football is the best thing we have going for us in college athletics,” Hancock said. “Nobody wants to erode that. There is a tipping point, beyond which the postseason would begin to draw life out of the regular season. Nobody knows what that tipping point is, but it’s not four. We know that. It could be eight, and it could be 16.”


This is the most important point.

As it is, most traditional rivalries – Ohio State-Michigan, Auburn-Alabama, Florida-Florida State, USC-UCLA, Clemson-South Carolina and many more – are played during the final weekend of the regular season. They mean something beyond bragging rights.

These rivalries are the essence of college football, in my opinion.

Now if the playoff is expanded, what would Ohio State-Michigan mean if both teams were ranked in the top-10 and already playoff shoe-ins? Remember the 2006 showdown at Ohio Stadium between No. 1 and No. 2. What would that game mean if the playoff was stretched to eight teams? Or 16?

Not much.

Or Auburn-Alabama?

“Here’s what would happen for a team ranked that high – they may rest their starters,” Swinney said.

And if conference championship games also remained, what would this year’s Big Ten championship game have meant, if both Wisconsin and Ohio State – which would have held true – were each getting into the playoff? Why even play the game?

And why play the SEC title game, since both Georgia and Auburn would be getting into the playoff?

“Some of my greatest memories as a player were those bowl games,” Georgia Coach Kirby Smart. “Now if you increase the number of playoff teams, you devalue the end of the regular season. The final few weeks were play-in games for everybody still alive and that’s the way to go about it.”

God forbid we get to this point, because college football’s regular season is what has set it apart from these other watered-down sports over the past eight decades.

Just as the NFL has had 7-9 teams make the playoffs, college football surely would have three-loss teams make an eight-team playoff and even four-loss teams make the playoff if it were 16 teams.

Who in their right mind wants that?

“Hey, I like the NBA, but I don’t even watch it until the playoffs start. I mean, why bother?” Swinney said. “All of our games count. You lose one and you in trouble. You lose two, and in most seasons, you are out of the running. Every one of our games since November had a playoff feel.”

No, college football is great because the regular season is great. The sport is popular, it is crucial and it is relevant because the regular season is popular, crucial and relevant.

An expanded playoff would change all that. God forbid, it would make it just like the NFL or NBA.

As it is, college football is way better – and it always has been.

They can expand Medicare. They can expand the size of the latest LED TVs, and they can expand the size of iPhones … but the pro playoff-expansion people need to keep their hands off the game of college football.

Jeff Snook, a 1982 graduate of Ohio State, has written 12 books on college football.


31 Responses

  1. There’s a to do it…..

    4 “regional” super-conferences…
    Each “regional” super conference made up of two major conferences, each with two divisions…..
    The division champions play out the conference championship and then the winners play for a regional championship.
    The four regional champs get playoff spots.

    No committees, all gets settled on the field

  2. I’ts really pretty simple in theory, but would require the the people in power to give up control and that will not come easy. You have to split the Group of 5 and Power 5 into separate divisions. Let’s be realistic, a Group of 5 team winning a national title now is about as likely as me winning the lottery. You have a national playoff with Power 5 with 8 teams and Group of 5 with a playoff with 8 teams.

    Have rules where every conference has to play the same number of conference games and have a conference title game. The 5 conference champs get in, so conference championships mean something, and there are 3 at large bids are available for The Power 5 and Group of 5. Use the current committee to decide seeding and the top 4 seeds get a first round home game and after that use the bowl games for the semi’s and finals.

    You get a national champ for the Power 5 and in a separate division you get a national champ in the Group of 5 decided on the field instead of a board room by a bunch of rich old men. Every other division in football has figured out how to draw up a bracket and have a playoff except Big time college football. But it again, comes down to money, power and control and those folks that have that will not give that up so easily.

  3. All the arguments in this article are just terrible reasons to not allow the games to be settled on the field. Holding onto a buggy whip won’t make Tesla go away and usher in the new age of horse back riding in the city.

  4. I see nothing good coming from expanding the playoff system to 8 teams… or worse yet, 16 teams.

    Every year going forward in perpetuity someone will be miffed that *their team* didn’t make the playoff. The same would happen if there were 8 or God forbid, 16. Not to mention that by going to 8, that would be an extra game for the each of the CG participants, thereby making a total of 16 games those 2 teams would play. This isn’t the NFL, nor should it be treated as such.

  5. who said anybody loves this cfp system it has many major flaws

  6. You mean, ‘CFB we know and hate”? We were obviously the best team in the country after the 2015 season and we stayed home and watched the beloved CFB playoffs because we lost (1) close game in an ice storm to Sparty. Gotta have 8 teams so we don’t leave any legit teams out.

  7. Jeff, you make the statement in your headline that an expansion would end CFB as we know and love…well, the playoff committee has already done that this year, so clearly something needs to change, even if it’s just a mandate forcing the committee to actually follow the guidelines and not just vote for teams based on the geographic region each voter is from like they did this year.

    When an Alabama team who didn’t win a single solitary game against a top 15 team (the only one they played in Auburn, kicked their ass), and only played 11 games against FBS opponents gets into the playoff ahead of USC & OSU who played 13 games and winning their conferences (and OSU took out two top 10 squads), then something needs to change.

    Whether its scheduling, which takes another step toward ruining CFB’s regular season by forcing teams like Ohio State to schedule high school squads like Mercer instead of Oklahoma, or expansion (they should expand to 6 or 8, IMO to avoid the committee doing something corrupt like they did this year), something needs to change. I don’t really care what it is as long as it results in a correct playoff setup and not the farce of a playoff field we have this year.

    And I vehemently disagree with your assertion about ‘fairness’ if a southern team had to come up north and play in the cold. We’ve played in their back yards for decades with no regard to whether it is fair or not, so god forbid they have to come and play here for a change. I would be hugely in favor of games like that to see Alabama, Florida, USC, etc. have to come and play in Columbus in December or January. HELL. YES.

  8. If you only want a 4 team playoff then you need only 4 conferences. Get rid of all existing conferences, break the country up in fourths. a northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest conference. The conference champions play in the playoffs. Get rid of garbage schools like Tennessee and Mercer.

  9. What happen to the good old days when the BigTen champion played the Pac-Ten (now) 14 in the Rose Bowl, the SEC champion to the Sugar, the ACC champion to the Orange and the Big 12 to the Fiesta? If they resorted back to that format, you would have 5 conference champions and 3 at large bids (8 teams) and could be played on January 1st. The 4 winners are your final four and can be seeded at that point. Wait 10 days after to have your semi-final games and another 10 days for the national Championship. Most schools don’t start Spring Semester until mid to late January.

    To prevent the final two teams from playing 16 games, drop one non-conference game during the year and have the rest of the conference teams play a cross-conference round robin at year end when the conference championship game is being played so the remaining schools can ensure a 12 game schedule and a chance to be bowl eligible. This would ensure the most games played is 15. (11 regular season games, conference championship game or conference round robin game, bowl game, playoff semi-final, NC game.

  10. Have one less game during the season, then teams that don’t make a bowl game could have their AD’s schedule an extra game with a local rival to get that last game. This would allow for championship games and an 8 game playoff.

  11. I’m sorry but the system has gotten better at every step. You are suggesting that 4 is the magic number and that is just bunk. You simply cannot leave out a major conf champion or a representative from each. There are not enough interconference games to rank the conferences. How many times have we been surprised at the results of the bowl season conference wise? Like it or not it will go to 8 just like 2 went to 4. There are too many good athletes and that number will only grow.

  12. Great article. Too many downsides to expanding the college football playoffs. There will always be controversy about the playoffs. If they go to an eight team playoff, there will be a controversy about number nine not getting in over another team. Sports channels eat that stuff up. They start weeks before theplayoffs selection, throwing out potential scenarios where this team or that team may be snubbed. An eight team playoff won’t stop playoff controversy.

    College football started out as college STUDENTS playing football as an extracurricular activity. College football is now: a stepping stone to the pros for gifted athletes; filled with player perks; a revenue machine; and academics is an evil necessity for too many players. Developments like NC playoff games, stipends, selling beer at college games, etc., is turning a college sport into a revenue oriented semipro sport for upper tier teams.

    So much emphasis on a national championship is making college football like the American economy: You have a relative hand full of “haves” (very wealthy individuals / schools with a football program capable of successfully withstanding a regular season, playoff games, and winning a NC – that will only get stronger. And you have the have-nots: the dwindling middle class / schools with average football programs – that will get further lost in the growing NC euphoria. .

    Leave college football college football.

    Just call me a traditionalist.

  13. Use four more bowl games and make it a 12 team playoff. Bye’s for the top 4 teams and reserve the top 4 bowls for those games and 8 teams with one playoff round in the second tier bowls. 5-12, 6-11, 7-10 and 8-9 games should prove to be entertaining – tOSUvUCF; Whisky v UDub; Auburn v Miami; SC v PSU rematch; lowest ranked winner v Clemson, etc. Borrowed from NFL playoffs but it seems like the fairest system that keeps all of the bowls intact and with meaning.

  14. Quoting Saban and Dabo??, they benefit from the good old boys sitting around deciding who gets in vs having to win their way in. Can u imagine a bigger weekend in sports where the conference champions get automatic? Easily go to 6 and eliminate the Mercer and Citadel games and mandate 9 conf games. Patriots would have 0 SB appearance under CFB model since their division is awful-let’s the kids decide who is the best not the man! On the flip side go back to 64 only in Basketball- student athlete really matter is basketball………

  15. Arguing against an expanded playoff makes no sense. The division right below 1-A (1-AA) has had a 16 team playoff for many years and have found no real problems with it. So an 8 team playoff should not only be feasible, but desirable. Why? Because, as the 1-AA playoffs have shown, teams below the top 4 have won the championship. The ratings are subjective and often leave some really good teams out, especially ones who may have lost a few games early, but are on fire at the end of the season. The NCAA needs an 8 game playoff to give some really good teams a chance at the top prize.

    1. This is the only reply I will make to that argument because I hear it all the time, but this comparison it is apples to oranges. FCS teams play 11 regular season games — not 12 like FBS. They do not have large athletic budgets to balance, because they are smaller schools. The playoff games are held on home fields until the championship game and there are tons of empty seats at many of these games. There are no bowl games in which the playoff would affect. There are no season-ending traditional rivalries and conference championship games in which a playoff would affect. They are essentially two different sports.

  16. The bowl system is already dead. Is the Rose Bowl really the Rose Bowl? NO. It is a semi final game. These games are not even played on new years day anymore. I agree with comments that we do not need all 12 regular season games against colleges for the deaf and blind. Get rid of the crap games in the regular season, Get rid of the teams that are not really Div I teams(group of 5) because they do not have any shot of getting into the playoff anyways(see UCF). Why are they in Div I when they cannot ever play for a National Title? In every other NCAA sport those non power 5 schools have a shot at a National Title I would LOVE to see Florida play in Ohio in December. NFL teams do it and they are as healthy as ever. It would level some of the playing field that the Big Ten and Big 12 schools have been on playing half of their games in bad weather even to get to a bowl or BCS. I am all for expansion. What we have right now is a modified AP poll for National Championship. The four teams are all about the eye test and ESPN hype machine, which is right back where we were. (See Wisconsin, Ohio State, USC, etc) All did not pass the ESPN Hype machine and eye test.

  17. Interesting article; There are 32 teams in the NFL that have 12 teams in the playoffs. The NCAAM now has over 300 teams with a 64, sorry 68 team playoff. However college football has over 120+ teams, but only a 4 team playoff. Simple solution; 1. Eliminate one cup cake, does OSU need to play UNLV, does AL need to play Mercer and does Auburn need to play L Monroe? 2. If college football is so great then why can’t it be decided on the field? Rock solid truth, the more teams in the playoffs, the truer the champion. The other divisions have 16 or 32. 3. 5 power conference champions and 3 wild cards. 4. Top 4 host a playoff game and then keep the same system.

    Also, I don’t understand how the season would be diminished? Eye tests and rankings aren’t always true. Is USC better than OSU? Is PSU better than WA? Let them play. Example; My high school, Euclid, OH was ranked the #1 team in the nation and didn’t even make it to the final 8 of OH in 1990, how are rankings a true assessment of who’s better or not? Scheduling an 8 team playoff would reward teams that get hot later in the year and lead teams to schedule more top Power 5 opponents for rankings and experience.

  18. Your article is well written and presents scenarios for which we can only speculate, as no true evidence would exist until a new system is attempted. However, you did not touch on the current imbalance between the actual conference alignments and the 4-team playoff. Currently, 5 power conferences exist, which immediately does not align with a 4-team playoff! Further, we have a scenario this year where 2 of the 5 power conferences have been left out completely!

    I would suggest, if college football retains a 4-team playoff, then there should be realignment of conferences into 4 super conferences, from which the winners would enter the 4-team playoff. A realignment such as this would create controversy, of course, but it would at least remove the necessity for a subjective committee to choose the participants. It would also retain high interest in regular season and conference championship games.

    Baseball used to do this and it was wonderful. The regular season games, especially rivalry games, were always important, and the pennant had meaning. The expansion of baseball playoffs has watered-down the pennant achievement somewhat, but at least the cream seems to rise to the top.

    Just my $ .02.

  19. All RIGHT…finally someone speaking out with some common sense. Must be that quality Ohio education.
    If we let them, they’ll kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, and then it will be gone forever. We’re getting to dog gone close to that point already.

  20. Exceptionally well researched – and – it correctly/successfully argues the most important point re impact on STUDENT athletes!

    1. What about student athletes who play in D II and DIII teams that have much higher academics and they play in a 16 game or more playoff system? What about NCAAM basketball players?

  21. A remarkably well thought out article that greatly expands on points I made several days ago in another Ozone article. The people who call for an expanded playoff are almost ALWAYS jilted fans, who can think of little else but ways for their team to be included. Their cries for “more” come without any thought for context or consequences beyond THEIR team’s extra chance (even if questionable!) to advance. Although the article referred to comparisons with NBA and NFL- both of which are almost unwatchable at this point- I refer fans to college hoops at the D1 level. That sport USED to be great and is now a shadow of its former self. Regular season game are like background noise to “fans”, then the “only” thing that matters is the NCAA tourney. It lost its roots and is declining. I don’t want that to happen to football. Is the 4 team playoff system perfect? Nope. But its sure better than ruining the sport with knee jerk “solutions” that are not only unworkable, but actually destructive.

    1. Even a heroin addict will fabricate justifications as to how his decision to rob family members is an ok thing to do.

      The justifications for not having an expanded playoff format sound a lot like rationalizations to simply get what you want.

      Every other level of college football already does it and has done it successfully for decades. Every level of high school football already does this and has done so for decades.
      Those two sentences render any argument down to its base which is a bunch of old people who fear change.
      Div 1 football is too big for a four team playoff.

      1. Jonathan- speaking of “rationalizations to simply get what you want”, it sounds very much to me like several commenters here are doing exactly that because their team got left out this year. (And, if anyone was maniacal enough to do the research, they would find articles and comments similar to these from the past 3 years’ worth of “5th place” finishers on their various fan sites- the only thing you’d need to change was the school name amongst all the various contorted efforts to wrangle THEIR team into the playoff for that year).
        Secondly, I should point out that “every other level” of college football isn’t D1. For example, D3 currently has 250 or so football teams, double the number of D1. It does make sense that their playoffs should be a bit larger. The more relevant point, however, is that a lot of those playoff teams face few logistical challenges during even the first 3 rounds of playoffs. It isn’t all that tough for Otterbein to travel to, for example, Wittenberg for a game. Its an hour bus ride. Not so for these hypothetical D1 games. Your comment about HS football is even less defensible, as HS teams often travel less than hour for their playoff games until the top tier games. And make no mistake about it, smaller college and HS teams also have their share of “cupcakes” on the schedule. Their seasons aren’t a death march (as another commenter mentioned above).
        I think the “old people” you mentioned above don’t fear change, as much as they fear a diminished product. Remember, once it goes to 8, the push will be on for 16. The bottom line is that these D1 football teams are simply a different animal than your comparisons.

  22. Not a very reasoned article.

    Conference Championship Games: These would not be eliminated. All teams would start the first Saturday in September and play 12 games with a Bye week. That still leaves room for conference championship games to be played on the first Saturday in December as they are played now.

    Playoff Games in Cold Weather: Really? The lower divisions teams do it. The NFL does it. MLB does it. College football teams in the east and north usually go south or west for bowl games. Why can’t western or southern university teams go to the north or east to play a game? Further, we already have bowl games currently located in cold weather cites such as New York, Boise, and San Francisco (yes, its cold there in December– not to mention sometimes even in July).

    Final Exams: Strange argument by the author. He apparently believes it’s ok to have appproximately 8 lower-level bowl games played up through December 20 when final exams are generally scheduled by some schools, but its not ok to have 4 quarterfinal playoff games that could be played on the Saturday before Christmas (after those same exams would be over).

    Dimished Rivalries: Does anyone really believe that the game between Ohio State and the team up north would be dimished if just one additional playoff Saturday were to be added?

    Diminished Playoff Game Attendance: How does the author know this when a quarterfinal playoff system has never been tried? He points to the prior semifinal playoff game between Florida State and Oregon as an example of tickets selling for $15. What’s wrong with that! As a fan, I would love it. Indeed such prices might actually increase attendance. Finally, the author apparently supports having the lower-level bowl games. Has he checked the huge amounts of empty seats that generally accompanies those bowl games?

    Lower Level Bowls Eliminated: Is there really that much interest in lower-level bowl games such as the New Mexico Bowl between teams that were 7-5, 6-6, or 5-7? Such games are also generally money losing propositions for those schools. Further, these are bowl games that interfere the most with the final exams that the author is so concerned about. Wouldn’t it be better for the academic welfare of those student athletes and the budgets of those 60+ schools to bypass those largely meaningless, academic interfering, and money losing bowl games?

    Thus, it appears that those who oppose an 8 team playoff (5 automatic bids from the power 5 conference champions, plus 3 at-large teams) are those who would rather have a committee decide between the 4th and 5th best team rather than having a committee choose between the 8th and 9th best team. An 8-team playoff system relies less on a committee being correct in picking the best seeded teams (because the top 5 seeded teams would be selected solely by on-field ccinference championship games) –thereby reducing committee controversy and placing more emphasis on how teams actually perform on the field rather than how a committee behind closed doors perceives those teams.

    In sum, an 8-team Playoff would actually enhance the college football season which most us us love. It would not diminish it.

    1. I was going to write a long reply to Mr. Snook but you did it for me. I couldn’t agree more. I would only emphasize that D-II and D-III manage MUCH larger playoff fields and they do it with real student-athletes who have almost none of the perks of D-I athletes. The purpose of having playoffs is to determine on the field who is the best team in the country. That can’t be done if one of those teams isn’t on the field. Either 6 or 8 would be fine with me, but 4 just isn’t enough. And I am convinced it would be BETTER for college football. That’s a win-win.

    2. totally agree with “Mr. Bo”……there is no good reason to NOT go to an 8 team playoff…eliminate one regular season game if need be…an 8 team playoff means 4 teams will have one extra game compared to what we have now…the 5 conf. champs and 3 at large is vastly more fair than the overly subjective system now..they system now is better than what we had but 8 is superior—don’t give me this crap about 16 being too many either—all other levels of college football have 16–does that mean their academics, etc aren’t as important as Div 1 football?? no….it’s ridiculous–and wrong–to not go to at least an 8 team playing with the top 4 seeds hosing the first round then keep the major bowl system as is–can preserve tradition and make the system more fair and exciting…the arguments against doing so are extremely weak.

  23. I oppose the expansion of the CFP to more than four teams, although the FCS(1-AA) successfully holds a 16 plus team playoff without undo stress on academics, conference competition and rivalries.. My reasoning is that enough is enough. Over saturation of the media markets just might make big time college football go down the path of the NFL and NASCAR in terms of attendance and viewership.

  24. Snooker, you ignorant SL**!
    The Playoff needs to be 8 teams. No more, but CERTAINLY no less! I used to be an advocate of 16 because it’s preposterous to think that fully 1/2 of Div I has ZERO shot at a national title.
    But your arguments do have some merit. Just not enough to keep the playoff from the 8 teams it always should have been. Your arguments about number of games and students having time are not a factor – D IAA (FCS) does it every year w/out a hitch.
    Likewise I could take or leave the conference championship games.
    Six teams should be the so-called “Power Five” champions and history has shown that there’s nearly always 1 “Group-of-Five” champion that would be entertaining to watch as people “root for the underdog” to have a “Cinderella” year in the Playoffs.
    This year, the last 2 slots would have gone to Alabama and either Ohio State or USC. Bring back the computer rankings for all I care but put one of ’em in and let the other be mad that they let Iowa kick their asks (or Notre Dame) as they get a consolation.
    The rumours of the demise of bowl games have been greatly exaggerated. They’re doing just fine.
    Eight shall be the number of the playoff and the number of the playoff shall be eight. Neither shall the playoff be nine, nor shall it be seven unless thou then proceed onto eight!

  25. The playoffs will expand, of that there is no doubt, when is anyone’s guess.
    As for diminished regular season’s and conference championships, that has already happened, with the four team playoff. The bowl games are diminished as well, if you don’t make the playoffs and you are an Ohio State, your season hasn’t been ultra successful. The fans will still care about the rivalry games and conference championships, but they are not the ultimate goal and a season is less than successfully complete without a playoff appearance. Your argument for the Pur-don’ts of the world going to a bowl to create money is foolhardy, a bowl has to have an exceptional payout for a team or even a conference to make money in a given year. Most teams that go to a bowl game lose money, i.e., pay out of pocket, for the distinction, if there is one, of playing in a low payout, no-name bowl game. I do think in fairness, all teams should be allowed the same amount of bowl practices at the end of the season, regardless of whether or not they made a bowl game, the exception being if they have a low APR.

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