Sports Take: The case for expanding the College Football playoffs

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones passes against Ohio State during the second half of an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game, Monday, Jan. 11,, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Associated Press

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

The College Football Playoff needs to be expanded. Currently, college football suffers from an extreme lack of parity in the sport, and the four-team playoff format that the College Football Playoff adheres to is a major contributor to this lack of parity.

Since the playoff’s inception in 2014, only 11 different teams have appeared in the playoff, and only five different teams have appeared multiple times.

This year, each team that made the playoff — Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Clemson — had made the playoff before, resulting in the same repetitive matchups that have ended the season each year.

In seven years, if only 11 out of the 130 FBS college football teams have made the playoff, there is something fundamentally wrong with its structure.

This has been seen with the exclusion of undefeated teams, including UCF in 2017 and Cincinnati this season, in favor of power five schools that have suffered a loss. Both teams played perfect seasons yet were unable to compete in the CFP. A majority of the teams in college football like UCF and Cincinnati enter the season with the knowledge that it is impossible for them to reach the playoff, regardless of how well they play.

A common argument that has been used by the selection committee of the College Football Playoff to justify not including teams like Cincinnati or UCF is that those teams are simply not talented enough to make the CFP.

The selection committee has been clear that their task is to “select the best teams” and not to select the most deserving team or the team with the best resume. And under this criterion, it is hard to deny that the College Football Playoff has consistently selected the four best teams in college football. But this is more of an indictment of how the format of the CFP severely affects the distribution of talent in college football than a compliment.

The best recruits across the nation desire the exposure and glory that comes from playing in the College Football Playoff. It is an effective way for them to impress NFL scouts on the biggest stage and increase their personal brand.

So, when given the choice to attend any university they want, they choose the teams that have a legitimate chance to make the College Football Playoff. Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma have been the only teams that have consistently been able to make the CFP, thus all of the top recruits choose between these top schools.

This has led to a giant talent discrepancy, even between fellow Power 5 schools. The sad fact is that most teams in the FBS will never be able to compete against these powerhouse schools due to the difference in talent.

Until the format of the College Football Playoff is changed, the lack of parity in college football will remain and be painfully obvious each postseason. By expanding the CFP to either six or eight teams, it would allow for teams like UCF and Cincinnati to make the playoff and close the talent gap that exists between them and the current top teams.

By lowering the bar for entry into college football’s more prestigious competition, the sport will see much more parity, as recruits will be able to choose a wider selection of schools and still have a reasonable chance to reach the playoff and a chance of earning a national title.