College Football Should Copy the NFL’s Playoff Format

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The College Football season is currently wrapping up its fifth season in the playoff era and many people favor expanding the number of teams selected to participate in the playoffs.

A popular suggestion is to expand the playoffs from just four teams to eight teams. This would then include all power 5 conference champions and the 3 next most qualified teams. This would also increase the number of games potentially played to 16 games which is the length of an NFL season. Student-athletes are not pro athletes who get paid for what they do, they are still at the end of the day college students. Demanding students play as many games as the pros with the only difference being they are not receiving any pay or any of the profit being made from their own likeness.

Instead, the College Football Playoff committee should consider mimicking the NFL’s playoff format and increase the number of teams selected to play to six. Similar to the NFL the top two seeds would earn a bye week and the three and four seeds would play the two “wildcard” seeds. Yes, it is only 1-2 games less than having 8 teams but it also eliminates the weeks of preparation and travel that leads up to each bowl game that would require the students to take extended time away from class.

Part of what makes the current four-team playoff format exciting is the exclusiveness. The fact that any given year a conference may or may not send a team to represent them in the playoffs makes the spot that much more valuable. Considering that the power five conferences differ in their level of difficulty as some conferences are harder to win in than others, having six teams will avoid giving a free ticket to a conference champions such as last year’s Pac-12 Champions USC who had a 10-2 record, who the committee did not think deserved a spot in the 2017/18 playoffs. By extending the playoffs to six teams, USC would have had the opportunity to showcase their team and represent the Pac-12 in the postseason.

Unlike the NFL, who reserves a playoff spot to division champions, by not reserving a spot for each conference it gives conferences the opportunity to separate themselves apart from their competition and solidify an elite status as teams are forced to earn their spot in the postseason. Keeping the playoffs exclusive will increase competition among conferences as the power five conferences will aim to boost the most playoff appearances as they can possibly have 1-2 teams representing the conference during any given year. Having six teams would eliminate controversy surrounding the selections as teams such as TCU and Baylor who both felt they deserved a spot in the 2014 playoffs after an 11-1 record and being Big 12 Co-Champs, TCU still managed to drop from #3 despite winning their last game. Also, UCF who claimed last year’s national title having gone undefeated but were still not selected to participate in the playoffs. Now, teams in similar positions such as Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Georgia have a chance to prove their worth and back up their claims. All in all, having six teams would quiet any debate on who has been left out unfairly as independent teams and teams outside the power five conferences will not be held at a disadvantage to reserved spots for conference champions.

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