Hey, that was a really cool college football season, wasn’t it? Sure, it ended with literally the most boring outcome possible — Alabama won a national title, water is wet, the sun will explode some day — but even that was fun as heck. When a college football season can manage to make Alabama winning a national title entertaining and enjoyable, you know it was a good year.
But this season and the national champions both had an inherent flaw: Alabama making it to the Playoff in the first place was kind of controversial. Take yourself back to the day we learned about the field of four teams, remember how weird it was that the Crimson Tide made it in? Yes, they were super good. They also did not win their conference. They did not win their division. The team that won their division went on to lose in the SEC title game to a team that punched a ticket to the Playoff as the 3-seed. Of course, they didn’t lose 55-24 to Iowa, but at least Ohio State had a conference title upon which they could hang their hats. The point here is that no one knows what matters in college football anymore.
Do you know what would have rendered this whole debate thing obsolete? That’s right, you’re reading another column about how college football needs to expand its playoff. The thing is, I do not care the extent to which the playoff is expanded — it could be eight teams, it could be 16 teams, it could be 64 teams, we can let every Division One team in (both FBS and FCS) alongside the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the six-best high school teams from Texas, I do not care.
What I do care about is that we as fans get to consume as much college football as we possibly can. The act of crowning a champion is cool and what not, but guess what? All roads lead to doing that. Let’s take a little longer to getting to that point, because that means we get to watch more games between the best teams, more opportunities to watch the ludicrous stuff that seems to happen when big games happen in this delightfully stupid sport.
How would it happen? I don’t know! I do not get paid to make those decisions. My job is to sit here and make the argument for it. My argument stems from the simple fact that I like watching college football and I like when I get to consume as much of the game as possible. I hope you agree with this from your perspective.
There’s also the general fact that, as Washington State coach Mike Leach explained, it is legitimately crazy that literally every other level of football has figured out a way to have a large, comprehensive playoff. The NFL has 12 teams. FCS has 24 teams. Division II has 28, and Division III has 32. High school playoffs nationwide has a bunch. Really, the only levels I can think of where four teams are considered satisfactory are FBS and Tri Valley Pop Warner in Central New York, which I played in in fourth grade. This is extremely lame, because four teams does not a tournament make.
Determining a champion is literally the reason why we do team sports. Only giving four teams the chance to play for a championship is too restrictive. Letting more teams would not make a mockery of the process of determining a champion or devalue what it means to compete for a championship, it means that the pathway to winning a title is harder, which is inherently a good thing.