This past year marked the seventh year of the College Football Playoffs already. The 4 teams that participated consisted of: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
Dating back to the BCS days of college football, the selection committee seems like they’re in hot water every single year. The committee has never seemed too worried about what’s being said about their decisions. But this year the backlash seemed to be a bit louder.
This year the committee got a lot of criticism about the fairness and the overall fundamentals of the selections and whether or not this remains the right way to go about crowning a champion.
Since the playoffs began in 2014, 28 bids have been issued to the CFP. The four teams in this year’s bracket have 18 of those bids, Alabama and Clemson have each received 6 bids, Ohio State has received 4 and Notre Dame has received 2, now you add Oklahomas 4 bids and that’s already 22 of the 28 bids.
Every year 127 schools compete at the FBS level, 65 of those schools belong to a power five conference (SEC, ACC, BIG 12, BIG 10, PAC 12), and yet just 11 schools have made the playoffs.
When COVID hit, this year seemed destined for a team from a group of 5 conference (AAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West) to crack the top 4
This year particularly was brought into question after Cincinnati of the AAC began the CFP rankings at No. 7. Cincinnati never lost yet they dropped down to No. 8 by the end of the year and made the Peach Bowl vs Georgia, but never made the playoffs even after an undefeated regular season.
Coastal Carolina of the Sun Belt conference had a very similar story. After finishing the season 11-0 with wins over teams like Louisiana-Lafayette and BYU, they still somehow finished the season at No. 12.
Here is where the 4-team playoff has its biggest problem.
For the 2021-22 season, The top 5 recruiting classes are Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, LSU, and Clemson, all teams that at, 1 point or another, received a bid to play in the College Football Playoffs.
Those schools still deserve a lot of credit for putting in that work year in and year out. But those bigger schools are eating up all the elite talent because the top-tier players will want a shot at the playoffs and those players know they won’t get that at smaller schools. With only 11 teams taking up all 28 bids, it’s a very clear advantage for power 5 schools.
Here is my idea to expand into an 8-team college football playoff.
The teams that rank 1-7 get the automatic bids and the 8th team goes to the highest-ranked team from a group of 5 conference. This way the big schools have their shot with at least 1 group of 5 teams getting their shot.
This could also work because that would require 6 total playoff games, which would take up all New Year’s 6 bowl games (Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl).
Teams that win The Power 5 conferences would also get an automatic bid. That would help fit for a better reward on winning the conference, then potentially winning your conference to play in a meaningless bowl game.
That would be 5 automatic bids, 2 at-large teams, and at least 1 group of 5 teams (a group of 5 teams would also qualify for an at-large bid if necessary).
This wouldn’t make the playoffs 100% fair but the reality is not everyone will be satisfied no matter what format you put the playoffs in. Regardless, this format would be a very good option because it has the ability to let those smaller schools in that may deserve a shot at the crown.
The CFP still will be running for a guaranteed 5 more years. It also must be noted that when the BCS rankings were still around and the only two teams that had the shot were the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country, that format still lasted 16 years even behind all the criticism.
This season was a season we’ll never forget and given everything that went wrong with the selection committee, this is a problem that needs to be attended to.