College football fans are ready for an eight-team playoff.
Just hours after the committee selected this year’s college football playoff teams, debates and models are already being made about what an eight-team tournament would look like this season.
The Washington Post acknowledged that an eight-team playoff would have been perfect this year for college football. Heading into the final weekend, the committee had most of its debate settled as Stanford beat Notre Dame, the highest-ranked 10-2 teams in the country. That left the top seven college football teams with some differentiation from the rest of the field.
This year’s pairings would have been fun to watch, too. Assuming the “Group of 5” conferences’ highest ranked team would be included, a match-up with the No. 1 Clemson Tigers taking on the No. 8 Houston Cougars would have pleased college football fans who like offense. The second-ranked team — Alabama — would have a rematch of last year’s semi-final with No. 7 Ohio State in the eight-team playoff.
This year’s eight-team playoff would have included the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans against the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal. The Oklahoma Sooners — the No. 4 ranked team in the final college football rankings before the playoff — would round out the eight-team tourney against the No. 5 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.
Chaos could have really sparked debate in an eight-team college football playoff this year. Would a Clemson loss to North Carolina in the ACC Championship game mean the Tar Heels could have kept the Tigers out of the tournament? Could an Iowa victory in the Big 10 Championship game be the downfall for an 11-2 Michigan State in this eight-team playoff scenario? And college football fans would have been livid if a 9-4 Southern Cal squad upset Stanford for the PAC 12 title, leaving the committee with an untenable decision about a four-loss conference champion.
While an eight-team playoff would have been easily set up this year thanks to top seeds winning their respective title games, other questions about how an expanded tournament would look remain. For starters, would only two at-large berths be up for grabs each year? By expanding the field, a college football tournament would most likely include the conference champion from each of the “Power 5” conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12, SEC).
Although selecting each conference’s champions would leave three spots up for grabs, an eight-team playoff should include the highest-ranked champion from the “Group of 5” conferences (AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt). While college football fans may not be pleased, the NCAA would do so to avoid any anti-trust issues brought up during the BCS era from members of the U.S. Congress.
In 2014, an eight-team playoff would have sparked a different kind of debate for the college football fan bases. Instead of arguing whether Ohio State was better than TCU or Baylor, the committee could have decided which 10-2 team was better: Michigan State or Mississippi State? That’s assuming that the highest ranked team outside of the Power 5 conferences would be included in the championship tournament.
From the final week’s rankings in 2014, an eight-team playoff would have an enticing slate of No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Boise State, No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 7 Mississippi State, No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 TCU, and No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Baylor.
Arguments are always fun in theory. An eight-team college football playoff is as fun of a debate as NBA fans have about whether the NBA Finals should be held at a neutral site. In reality, however, all solutions just create a new set of problems for fans to try to hash out, as Today’s U Sports pointed out in a recent commentary.
Do you think an eight-team college football playoff would have been better this year? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]