9 Reasons an 8-Team College Football Playoff Would Be Better Than a 4-Team One
Before we sit back and pat ourselves on the back for the start of the playoff era in college football, perhaps a little dose of reality is in order.
Yes, a four-team playoff in college football is a great triumph, but before we erect a monument to fairness and equality, we need to stomach the fact that we’ve not quite reached the pinnacle of progress.
The following slideshow highlights a mere nine basic reasons why an eight-team college football playoff is better than the four-team model that is slated to begin in 2015.
The message is simple: Let’s not have a contest for the memorial statue design or hire a sculptor until we really do reach the Promised Land of postseason college football.
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Allowing a mere four teams to ascend to a playoff from a field of 124 means that only 3.2 percent of participating squads will have direct access to the title.
Putting this into perspective, the NBA and NHL call 60 percent of franchises to their respective playoffs, the MLB allows 33 percent participation, D-I Men’s Basketball gives 20 percent a shot and D-I hockey allows 27 percent of its squads to fill the bracket.
Expanding the four-team grid to eight teams for major college football would only improve the mark of 3.2 percent to 6.4, meaning that though fairer, the system is far from completely equitable from a relative standpoint.
Why Put Off the Inevitable?
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Does anyone else get the feeling that the four-team playoff system served up by the BCS is nothing more than a stopgap effort to keep the good ole' boy money ship afloat?
Seriously, these guys are made to look like heroes in suits when in reality all they did was to add TWO games and a selection committee to a sport that deserved much more.
The big question moving forward may have nothing to do with whether conference champions should be honored or who sits on the election board, but instead how quickly the varnish will fade from the new BCS paint job.
Yes, how long will we be happy with a scheme that was almost good enough?
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Since TV money obviously drives decision-making in college football, it’s fairly simple to see the allure of seven playoff games vs. three.
Yes, if you are planning on making a zillion dollars by offering viewers three truly meaningful playoff games, perhaps you can make two zillion by serving up a sizzling seven.
Throw in the fact that people won’t be force-fed an endless buffet of irrelevant bowl games and suddenly it’s like eating at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse instead of a Golden Corral.
Hey college football power brokers! Want to make more money? Expand the playoff to eight teams!
More Cities/Bowls Win
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When discussing the merit of the traditional bowl system, much emphasis is put on the host cities and the positive impact of providing a venue for a postseason college football game.
This is a benefit that is heralded as an inherent advantage even when the bowl itself it entirely meaningless.
Based on this logic, it’s easy to surmise that the locations that host the two playoff games and the championship match in the four-team playoff format will be in position to profit greatly, meaning that three cities score big.
Expanding the playoff to eight teams means that a maximum of seven locales, as opposed to three, receive a huge financial boost as host cities. This would be the case regardless of how much time fans had to prepare for their journey.
Exposure for College Football
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Though it may seem like the entire nation is captivated by the fair maiden that is major college football, there is a large swath of sports fans that just don’t get it.
When you talk to fans (especially those who are passionate about the NFL) about why they haven’t fallen for college ball, many say that they can’t follow 124 teams and don’t understand the logic of the BCS.
Unlike the NFL, there is rarely a changing of the power guard in college football; when you tell people that the postseason games don’t mean anything, they are further put off.
As much as a four-team playoff may catch the attention of sports fans who aren’t college football enthusiasts, an eight-team affair might explode and result in a new gold mine of fans that are of yet untapped.
More Potential Winners
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This one is very simple; four teams in and one team out gives you many fewer options that eight teams in and one team out.
As exciting as the Final Four portion of the D-I Men’s Basketball tournament is, the Elite Eight is even more thrilling, especially from a nationwide perspective, because there are twice as many teams still alive who could win it all.
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Though it would be impossible to present the college football world with a playoff plan completely devoid of controversy, eight teams would produce less angst than four.
There is no way to argue that a No. 5 or No. 6 squad doesn’t deserve a shot to play for it all, especially when a selection committee is making the decisions and they’re faced with comparing apples to oranges.
The truth is there is no way of properly gauging the difficulty of a Big Ten schedule vs. a Pac-12 slate or an SEC schedule vs. a Big 12 slate, with the exception of letting teams settle the question on the field.
It’s logical—picking eight teams makes more people happy than selecting a mere four.
The flip side of this coin is fewer teams, fanbases and conferences that are steamed up about being left out in the cold when they have a solid argument for inclusion.
Honoring Conference Champions
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If you think about it, it’s fairly ironic that a wide swath of college football people are interested in propping up the idea of honoring conference champions moving forward in the four-team mini-playoff.
The FBS has 11 conferences and four independent teams; of those 11, six leagues still carry the “BCS” tag.
So, how in the world are we “honoring” conference championships in our new playoff scheme by leaving seven league title holders totally out of the mix?
Yes, let’s fight hard to keep the sanctity of a conference title holder by asking only four of the six BCS conference champs to participate, and let’s let a group of rich guys make the decision of who goes and who stays.
Until the FBS is split into two divisions who compete for their own championships, there needs to be a 16-team playoff; after that historic date, there needs to be a minimum of eight.
Anything less is ridiculous, as is the talk of honoring conference championships in a four-team playoff model.
You can’t honor title holders by leaving almost a full third of them out of the mix.
A Truer Champion
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One of the ongoing arguments in team sport is how to whittle a field of squads down to the best team in the land.
Yes, what’s the fairest way of figuring out who is the champion in a league of teams?
The idea that college football needs a playoff is based on this logic, and though a four-team scheme is better than no scheme at all, the truth is we are only a half step closer to a true champion than we were before.
Would eight teams be better?
What about 16, 32 or 64?
Well, college football is not basketball, baseball or hockey, but my bet is that the answer to the best way to determine a true champion in our sport is over the number of eight but far less than 64.