In June (2021) the College Football Playoff (CFP) announced it was recommending the expansion of its playoff format from four (4) teams to 12 teams. Eight months after this announcement, news broke that the Conference leaders couldn’t agree on the format for expansion thus keeping the current format until at least 2026. If you believe everything you read in the media, there’s a lot of pointing fingers and discussions about why the expansion conversations stalled. SI.com presents an interesting look on the expansion conversation. In short, the initial proposal was:
- The six (6) highest-ranked conference champions & six (6) at-large selections would comprise the field
- Top four (4) conference champions would receive a first-round bye
- The remaining eight (8) teams would be played on campus
- Teams seeded 5th-8th hosting teams seeded 9th-12th
- Bowls would host quarterfinals and semifinals with the championship game being a stand-alone event
I will admit that this plan wasn’t perfect but it was certainly a starting point. As a college football fan and administrator, I enjoy college football and (in my opinion) there’s never enough college football. That said, I am hopeful that the expansion conversations continue and is eventually finalized. There are some great opportunities for the sport that seem apparent to college football fans:
- Playoff games played on-campus! The campus environment would be electric regardless of where the game is played.
- It could reduce the number of players that opt’out of the bowl games. In recent years, more and more college players have opt’ed to not play in their teams’ bowl game for fear of suffering an injury that could impact their opportunity to play in the NFL.
- Cinderella could emerge! With it being March and everyone gearing up to watch the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, everyone is looking for that Cinderella team. Upsets is what makes college basketball exciting. The hope with CFP expansion is to create some of that magic that fans experience in March every year.
Although the four (4) team playoff is significantly better that than the previous BCS system, the CFP can still be improved. As a researcher, I am always looking at data and listed below are all the playoff teams since the CFP was instituted:
- Alabama (7 appearances) 22%
- Clemson (6 appearances) 19%
- Ohio State (4 appearances) 13%
- Oklahoma (4 appearances) 13%
- Notre Dame (2 appearances) 6%
- Georgia (2 appearances) 6%
- LSU (1 appearance) 3%
- Michigan (1 appearance) 3%
- Michigan State (1 appearance) 3%
- Oregon (1 appearance) 3%
- Florida State (1 appearance) 3%
- Washington (1 appearance) 3%
- Cincinnati (1 appearance) 3%
As a fan, my concern is that if there is continues to be no agreement on a way to expand the CFP, we might need to get used to seeing the same teams compete for the National Championship every year. This reality doesn’t create the kind of spectacle we are used to seeing with college basketball. One of the greatest things about sports is the inherent drama of the competition. The last second plays or the player that is in the zone are what we (the fans) enjoy the most.
In the coming months, conferences will poll their members and try to figure out where/how a CFP expansion could come about. But in the meantime, we’ll enjoy college football and looking at the statistics above, we’ll likely be able to predict which teams we’ll be watching in January compete for the National Championship.