If you’ve been keeping up with college football over the past few months, you’ll know that the ongoing debate over the effectiveness of a 4-team playoff has resurfaced. This time, however, it really does seem there could be more cons than pros.
Every college football team has been conditioned to know that one loss over the course of the season could strip you of any championship hopes. The coaching staff pushes their players to the brink in training to instill stamina and endurance into their players on top of the skills and strength training they routinely complete throughout the year. With this in mind, it can be mighty frustrating to see a team with one or even multiple losses gifted with the honor of playing for the national championship, while there are equally talented undefeated teams that do not.
This specific scenario made its way into the spotlight this year, leaving many college football fans angry and heartbroken. And with the fans feeling that way, you can only just imagine the disappointment that the undefeated players might feel.
To fully understand why this causes so much frustration, you have to understand the history of college football playoffs of recent years. It’s a short history actually, as the playoff system now used has only been in place since 2014. The previous system was revamped after some controversial endings to seasons left highly qualified teams out to dry when it came time to announce the two teams that would play in the national championship. In a nutshell, prior to this change, regular season champions participated in a series of bowl games that didn’t mean much, and whose match-up rosters were put together via a combination of polls, computer selection methods based on records, and a committee that determined who the best teams were based on how tough each team’s schedule was and how many wins they had. It was a bit of a hodge podge, and for this reason, something had to change.
What sports fans got was a 4-team playoff, where 4 teams faced each other in two games that determined who would play for the national championship game. Finally, many thought, an answer to the playoff prayers! But what has happened in these 3 short postseasons is that fans and players are still finding themselves feeling slighted, and that all talent can’t be showcased in essentially 1 real round of playoffs.
This year, the biggest loser of the 4-team playoff system was a team who wasn’t even in the playoffs, and a team who didn’t have any losses. University of Central Florida had the proverbial perfect season, defeating every team that stood in their path, including both teams that competed for the ultimate prize of being named national champions. To be honest, it’s hard to understand why they weren’t selected as part of the 4 playoff teams, but when it came down to the committee decided who to place in these 4 spots, they didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. Despite this sounding like a team that just can’t appreciate the experience of having a perfect season in a slightly less competitive division (which is completely debatable), this nightmare scenario is only going to become more and more common the more competitive college football becomes. And if the past has taught us anything, it’s that there are always hungry and talented freshman waiting in the wings for their shot at glory.
So, for the time being, the debate rages on. Many have suggested that the playoff expands to 6 teams or 8 teams so that more talented teams can be included. For others, extra playoff games already seem like too much for an amateur athlete to manage in one season. After all, these athletes are students. And for anyone that references March Madness – a college basketball mega-tournament that crowns a champion, sweeping the nation every spring – there are plenty of pros and cons that come with a system like that as well, and it’s highly likely that such a system won’t be making its way to college football any time soon. Be honest with yourself, do you watch the whole college basketball season, or just the sweet 16 games?
Where do you stand on the great college football playoff debate? Do you think things need to change? Tweet to me to discuss or comment below. Be sure to share this page with your friends so the debate can keep going.