An Impassioned Plea Against Playoff Expansion

Since the inception of the College Football Playoff only a few years ago, fans have been calling for the expansion of the postseason tournament. I’m sure you heard all about it from Notre Dame and Washington fans this week. Analysts across the country have bemoaned how the selection committee makes their choices. Teams just missing the cut frequently complain about the system after being left out. Even our former President weighed in in favor of more teams. All in all, it seems like everyone wants to see the CFP expand to at least 8 teams.

But this would be a mistake. 4 is the perfect number for the CFP.

The problem with expansion lies in the devaluation of college football games in the regular season. Over the last few seasons, teams and conferences have been snubbed and left out of the CFP despite seemingly strong resumes. In 2014, Baylor was left out with a single loss despite wins over the 6th and 11th ranked teams. This, in part, inspired the Big 12 to put a conference championship game in place, thus allowing for a final chance at a resume boost. In 2015, Iowa was also left out with a single blemish on their record. However, they had not beaten anybody in the Top 20, and so their strength of schedule was weak and they were left out.

The 4 team CFP is forcing teams to schedule tougher non conference opponents. That’s why the opening week this season had a pair of marquee matchups in Ohio State-Oklahoma and Alabama-Florida State. That’s why every game in the season matters, because the only way to truly guarantee yourself a spot in the Playoff is to win them all. Just ask 2014 Baylor and 2015 Iowa. If Miami or Wisconsin slip up this year, they’ll face a similar challenge.

This is the beauty of college football. Every game is so crucial. It’s why we’re fans. In the NFL, the best teams lose 3 or 4 games a season. In college, losing 3 or 4 games is a death sentence. Every game is make or break, do or die, in or out. With 8 teams in the playoff, you risk that disappearing. And it’s not worth that risk.

Ian Pritchard

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

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