A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Opinion: College Football Playoff

The 2017-2018 college football season kicked off this weekend with an incredible set of games spanning the five day weekend. This will be the fourth year now that teams will participate in the College Football Playoff at the end of the year. When the end of the season rolls around, the top four teams are picked to participate in the playoff to decide the national champion. The system has been great since implemented, but the question should be asked, should more teams be selected for the postseason?

In its first year of existence, the College Football Playoff proved why it was better than the outdated BCS system that came before it. Ohio State took home the first championship trophy under the new system in 2014-2015. They came in as the number four-seed, meaning they wouldn’t have had a chance in previous years.

That year came with controversy though, as TCU and Baylor had stellar seasons, but ultimately were left on the outside looking in. By choosing Ohio State over these two teams, the playoff committee showed they valued a conference championship game as well as a conference champion (the Big 12 didn’t have a conference title game until this season).

In the 2015-2016 season, Alabama took home the title. Left on the outside this year were Iowa and Stanford. Iowa had a good year, but didn’t belong in the Playoff after losing the Big 10 title game. Stanford, however, was riding a hot streak heading into the playoff selection date. Although they had two losses, Christian McCaffrey lead them to a Pac-12 championship and had them right there in contention as the season came to a close. However, they fell short of entrance into the postseason.

The 2016-2017 season was the craziest yet. The field at the top of the rankings was stacked, with as many as six teams that had a good case to be in the playoff. Penn State (like Stanford) had two losses, but were arguably the hottest team in the Nation. They had the head-to-head win over Ohio State, as well as a win in the Big 10 title game. Based off the criteria that got Ohio State in in 2014, the Nittany Lions should’ve been in. The committee chose the Buckeyes, however, who flopped in the semifinal, losing 31-0 to the eventual champion Clemson Tigers.

All these cases are why I propose a six-team College Football Playoff field. The one and two seeds would get a bye, while three plays six and four plays five. It would work just like one conference of the NFL playoffs works, and give those teams on the outside looking in a chance to at least compete. For all we know, Penn State could have won it last year, or maybe Stanford in 2015-2016. Maybe TCU and Baylor would’ve won it in a weaker field in 2014-2015. We will never know, but it can be explored in the future if the field is expanded by just a couple teams.