Column: It’s time to expand the College Football Playoff

Will the 2017 season controversy be enough to expand?

Alabama will face Clemson, and Oklahoma will take on Georgia in the college football playoff semi-final on New Years Day. Flickr

College football fans have advocated for a playoff expansion ever since the four-team playoff was introduced. Many believe that there are more than four teams who deserve to be in the final running for the best team in college football.

When it comes to playoffs, more is better. No matter the sport, you will rarely hear people asking for a reduction in regard to the postseason.

Every year on Selection Sunday, the Selection Committee picks the four teams it feels deserve to get in, and every year there’s controversy over who the “most deserving” teams are.

The last two years, though, have caused more controversy than the committee wants. After picking Ohio State over the 2016 Big Ten Champions, Penn State, the committee will send Alabama over the Big Ten Champion Ohio State to this year’s playoffs. The choice has angered not only Buckeye fans but college football fans all over who feel the committee is showing a Southeastern Conference bias or, more specifically, an Alabama bias.

There is no right answer for the committee. No matter who it chooses, the fans whose team doesn’t get in will feel cheated for not getting into the playoff. The amount of controversy this season, though, is the reason this year will spur more talks about expansion than ever before.

The question is: How many teams should the playoff be expanded to? You’ll hear arguments for six-, eight- and even 16-team playoffs, but let’s pump the breaks on the latter. The NCAA would likely choose a six-team playoff because it isn’t that big of a jump, though even then some deserving teams would get left out.

Even if the playoff expanded to six teams, it is unlikely that it would see any Group of Five teams get in. If the committee took the newest College Football Playoff rankings from Sunday and made a six-team playoff, a team like University of Central Florida (12-0), sitting at No. 12, would not have made it.

Eight teams would make more sense. An eight-team playoff would include the five Power Five conference champions and three at-large bids given out to teams like Alabama (11-1), Wisconsin (12-1), and yes, UCF (12-0). This would give “the little guys” a chance to prove themselves on the big stage and give the teams that had one bad game a chance to redeem themselves.

The NCAA has proven it’s all about money (except when it comes to the players). Since the introduction of the playoff for the 2014-15 bowl season, the three playoff games have led the way in viewership for the bowl games each year. Viewers love to watch the playoffs and would eat up the extra games if given the chance.

The non-playoff bowl games haven’t been as fortunate. The playoffs are slowly killing off the other big bowl games, and an expansion could help. By expanding, the committee could increase viewership of games like the Rose Bowl, which has seen its two lowest viewer ratings since at least 2001 over the last two years.

More games means more stadiums, which could revitalize interest in and bring big bucks to the NCAA. The NCAA should realize this eventually and expand. At the end of the day, more college football is always better. Who knows? It might happen sooner than some think.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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