We go into what the College Football Playoff would look like, and how it would impact the landscape of college football as a whole.
Expanding the College Football Playoff to more teams means more meaningful games and more fun for the common college football fan. Think of the first week of March Madness. You have to watch some games that aren’t competitive, but, some of those are the best games from a betting standpoint. Big inflated lines and teams that have nothing to lose, going against the big favorite, gives you extra chances to hit big! Expanding the playoffs gives more kids a chance to showcase their abilities to a wider range of people. Mainly expanding the playoffs is good for everyone, from the players to the fans.
Giving more schools a chance to play for something meaningful and to compete on the national stage with everyone watching will make for some great upsets and history-making games. A common idea for making the playoffs 16 teams would be to include the top 16 ranked teams. Simply put, the best teams get in. Most of the time, if your team has two regular season losses, you don’t get into the playoffs. There are only four spots and those usually fall to the teams that are undefeated or that have only one loss. Who wouldn’t love to have seen Notre Dame against the Kenny Pickett (now NFL QB for the Pittsburg Steelers) lead Pitt Panthers? Instead we got to see Pitt play without Kenny Pickett because he opted out of his bowl game. Adding more meaningful games means more meaningful moments, and another chance to see our teams compete for a National Championship.
Money. Money is a great reason to expand the CFP. Each team that made just the first round of the CFP last year was awarded $6 million to disperse through their conference. That money goes directly into the athletic departments of each team in the conference. So, for last year, the SEC had two teams. That means the 14 teams in the SEC got an extra $850,000+ to spend on their respective departments. That money is only a fraction of how much the NCAA makes. The NCAA has an exclusive deal with ESPN worth a reported $7.3 billion to air the games on their network. That deal was set from 2014 through 2026. Do the math. That’s $600 million per year. If the NCAA decided to triple the number of teams in the playoffs, how much do you think the NCAA stands to gain from just their television deal?
College football is heading towards mega conferences with all the “power 5” conferences starting to poach teams from each other. With this model of an expanded playoff, you might be able to help the lower conferences still get some TV air time. With NIL money flying, the transfer portal has seen a lot of good players on these lower conference teams transfer to bigger schools with more TV time and money to throw around. If the NCAA went to the 16 team format, what they could do is take 10 major conference winners and six “at large” schools and place them into the playoffs. That way, every major conference is represented and then the next best six teams get to contribute. That brings a higher level of competition for conference games but would keep the talent spread out as much as possible. This would also result in a better product for the viewer to tune in into lower conference games.
Expanding the playoffs has to be done correctly or it can push the college football landscape to mega conferences. If they are just the top 16 teams, most of those teams are part of the already lopsided “Power 5” conferences. The “Power 5” includes the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac 12, and SEC. Of those conferences, there are 21 ranked teams out of the 25 going into the 2022 season. So if they just do the top 16 teams, then it will just be the same conferences sending the most teams year after year after year. The NCAA would need to find a way to evenly disperse the playoff spots to make sure they don’t push the lower conferences farther under the bus.
The quality of the games has also come into question with this format. Some people don’t want to watch the Alabama’s and the Ohio St’s of the college football world beat up the low-ranked seeds. We see it every year. Most of the time, there’s at least one game at the beginning of the playoffs that isn’t close. Last year it was Georgia vs Michigan that ended 34-11. The year before, Ohio St beat Clemson 49-28. The worst of which was in 2019 when LSU beat Oklahoma 63-28. Those are supposed to be the top four teams in the nation and every year, there’s been a lop-sided game.
The NCAA should expand the college football playoff for a few reasons, mainly because it brings the fans more competitive games, and more money into each conference to use on the student athletes. With expanding the playoff format, I think this would make the college football playoff one of the most watched events of the year. It brings extra revenue to the students and gives us fans more of what we want. Hopefully the NCAA can get this done!
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