College football playoff needs to be expanded


Kiera Harger

If you are a fan of college football, every year you look forward to the beginning of the season in the fall. No matter who your team is, you are constantly rooting for them to win. Every game matters. Every fan wants his/her team to be ranked in the Top 25. The ranking number next to a team’s name is a symbol of excellence that only 25 teams get to embrace.

The ultimate goal for every team is to qualify for the College Football Playoffs, in which only the top four teams get to compete. This means that a perfect season is almost mandatory for a team to qualify (with the occasional exception of a team with one loss, depending on who that loss was against). However, this makes precisely no sense at all.

In the NFL, 14 teams get to qualify for the playoffs (seven from each conference). This allows teams like whoever wins the NFC East this year, who all have horrible records, to qualify for the playoffs along with other teams with either losing records or barely winning records to compete. However, this makes the playoffs for the NFL more enticing and exciting.

The teams that will qualify for the playoffs are up in the air until the end of the season. Teams that have a rough start still have the potential to compete in the playoffs if they can turn things around and make adjustments.

For example, the Washington Football Team was not even a thought in the playoff picture at the beginning of the season, but now they have a high likelihood of qualifying. This makes the NFL way more dynamic and exciting.

In 2005, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team to qualify from the AFC playoffs. That year, they went on to win the Super Bowl, which never would’ve happened if the NFL only allowed 4 teams in its playoffs. There actually are underdogs who can go far into the postseason. The College Football Playoff method completely eliminates this aspect.

Every year, Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State are talked about for the playoffs. These teams always dominate in their conferences and always take up spots in the top 4, leaving other teams no room to make mistakes all season.

Look at Florida this year. The Gators were ranked as the 6th best team in the country, but a loss to LSU completely removed any chance they had to secure a playoff spot.

Also, whenever these teams are so close in their records, it comes down to subjective decisions to conclude who these top 4 teams will be. In 2016, Penn State was 11-2, including a win against Ohio State and winning the Big 10 Championship, but in the end Penn State was ranked number 5, two spots behind Ohio State.

The committee gets to decide what IT thinks of a team. It can look at two teams with a 12-1 record and have to decide which one could be better than the other. Maybe one of them lost by 3 points rather than 6, or one of them lost to a team in the top 10 and the other hadn’t. It just gets ridiculous after a certain point.

Sometimes even the records are insignificant to the CFP Committee. This year, Cincinnati is undefeated, but it has no chance to qualify for the playoffs. How does this make sense? The Bearcats proved to be successful and dominant in the regular season, and still, they are overlooked.

The committee has to infer based on biases about certain teams. It is basically impossible for them to set an accurate standard when all of their reasoning is based on opinions.

In the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma was largely favored to win over the insignificant yet 12-0 Boise State Broncos. Boise State pulled out some show-stopping plays in the 4th quarter to win the bowl game. If there had been a CFP in 2007, there is no way Boise State would have been considered, but by beating Oklahoma it exposed a flaw in the bias toward schools from big conferences.

The college football playoffs should be expanded to include 10 teams. There are 130 Division 1 college football teams, and letting the top 10 teams compete for the playoffs maintains the high stakes of the regular season while also allowing more of the best teams in the country to qualify. The bottom four teams would play in the first round. The winner of the one game would play the 1 seed and the winner of the other game would play the 2 seed in the second round while the 3 & 6 seeds and the 4 & 5 seeds would play each other. Then, there would be the traditional semifinals and championship games following the second round.

There would be more intriguing upsets, fairer evaluations, and conservation of high stakes and suspense. With 10 teams qualifying, the probability of a team qualifying is just 7.7%, which is still extremely low. The competitiveness of the sport would not vanish. Maybe then, more teams besides Alabama or Clemson could have a championship trophy.

The way the NFL runs its playoffs should be mimicked by college football. There are so many amazing college football teams who are denied the chance to compete for a national championship because only 4 get to qualify out of 130 (3%).

If a more reasonable number could compete, the playoffs would last longer than 2 weeks and there would be much more excitement around the playoffs.