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CFP: "Just Keep Doing What You're Doing"

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Posted 12-08-2022 at 04:54 PM by neugey

I'm usually a believer that change is good, and I'll consider trying anything once. I am not a staunch traditionalist, but in this case just a person who sees how good things are at the current moment.

It seems that college football playoffs will expand to 12 teams in a few years. And it's a large misstep. Mine may not be a popular opinion, but I believe the playoff format the college football game has right at this moment is actually a great one. It's the right one to move forward with, and possibly the best format college football has ever had.

As we all know, the college football landscape is changing rapidly with NIL, the transfer portal and the increasing irrelevance of the NCAA. The onslaught of super-conferences is also inevitable, and will rearrange or wash away the Power 5 and most various conferences as we know them today. With this newfound parity and largess, people are thinking a jumbo-sized playoff format will be a great fit. But I don't see it.

The most powerful asset college football has is its regular season. The right upset, at the right time, can have seismic consequences. It can shift the playoff hopes of numerous teams in ways that are not yet known for weeks to come. The ensuing suspense and national conjecture is both incredible and palpable. Truth be told, the powerhouse rivalry games such as Michigan-Ohio State and Texas-Oklahoma sometimes are just as memorable, if not more memorable, than the championship game itself for many fans. An supersized playoff format will reduce a big part of the drama and consequence of those epic regular season standoffs.

The current parity and fragility of the sport is a captivating thing. Having a playoff table with just four chairs preserves a high standard of excellence. Will this be the year the Big Ten has two teams in the playoffs? Or will it be the SEC? Can the PAC 12 or ACC get a team in at all? Will the two conference rivals meet each other in the first round? Or could their rematch become this year's championship? With a 12-team playoff, all this intrigue vanishes and we'll have nothing meaningful to fill the space.

In 2022 we've managed to continue the ongoing suspense between Michigan and Ohio State. It's the best case scenario for sports talk and huge ratings. Maybe next year it's LSU and Alabama in this same position. I find this exciting. It creates conversation and excitement for the sport and its blue blood programs. Let's not throw that away.

2022 Alabama was not vintage Alabama. They were not the dominant and mostly unscathed program that we've normally come to know (if not loathe). They don't belong at the grown-ups table this year. Making that table bigger and adding more chairs will dilute the meaning of the regular season. The September through November missteps of Tennessee, Alabama, Clemson, Penn State or others won't have consequence because they'll still be "close enough" to likely get in. The bar will be lowered, and the new format will result in a diminished product. With 12 teams, all the discontent will shift to a bigger crowd of 3 and 4 loss teams on the bubble. They will fill the void and whine, thinking they're tough and want another shot. They'll be clamoring for a 16-team playoff, will probably eventually get their way, and then the playoffs will become a drawn-out farce with many lower seeds that don't have a chance in hell of making a run.

With a four team playoff, the hill remains steep and the stakes remain high. Teams like 2022 Kansas State and 2022 Utah can still (for now at least) set their sights on a conference championship and a top flight bowl game. Those are still very fine achievements, and sound a lot better than being quickly dispatched as a low seed in a nationwide playoff bracket. The NCAA basketball tournament creates plenty of Cinderella stories, and maybe that's what the proponents of expanded playoffs are looking for. But football is a different animal that takes a much more physical toll. It's a fool's errand to try to recreate March Madness on the gridiron.

I realize almost all team sports have expanded their playoffs in some way in the 21st century, and urging big universities and corporations to stand still during a tidal wave is a tall order. But I feel we should try. The worst-case scenario is today's NBA, where they've added a play-in tournament that has basically eradicated any remaining sense of accomplishment for teams making the playoffs. That postseason is now a time-wasting cluster that almost lasts as long as the whole football regular season! That could be the kind of ridiculousness that awaits down the road if we keep wedging open Pandora's box in college football.

Four, and no more!
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    Rugby Saint II's Avatar
    I agree that the NFL playoffs were watered down adding more teams in that have less than Stellar records. I enjoy watching college playoffs more than the regular season, besides of course Alabama. Maybe there's more money in it from advertising and we all know that profits from the game or what it all boils down to.
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    Posted 12-09-2022 at 02:19 PM by Rugby Saint II Rugby Saint II is offline

 
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