Arguably the biggest complaint about college football is that the same teams are competing to win the national championship every year – in other words, there is no parity. First things first; is this an actual argument, or merely barbershop talk?
In the last 10 years there have been 18 schools that have finished the year in the top 4 of the Coaches Poll. That’s 18 out of 131 or 14% of the eligible teams that can compete for a national title under the current playoff format (there’s a reason I’m using this format even for years that the BCS was still in play…just wait). Out of those 18 teams only 6 teams have won the national championship – Alabama (x4), Clemson (x2), Georgia, Ohio St., LSU, and Florida St. or 5% of eligible teams. Let’s put this into perspective with the use of College Basketball. I have never heard anyone complain about a lack of parity and college basketball, however, using the same method used for College Football, College Basketball shows that 25 out of 351 or 7% of the eligible teams have finished in the top 4, and only 9 or 3% of teams have won the national championship in the past 10 years.
So why isn’t this same argument being made about College Basketball? Simple…68-team playoff. Now easy there Seabiscuit, I’m not trying to say that College Football needs a 68-team playoff (good lordy that’d be a blast to watch though). What I’m saying is that the playoffs need to be expanded. College Football is the only major sport that does not have at least 12 teams make the playoffs. With only 4 teams competing, you’re not able to see a complete picture of what the college football landscape looks like. Is the PAC-12 really that bad? Is the SEC really that good? There is no way to prove this better than arguing over a cold beer at your local dive bar. That is not good for a sport and is not good for the brand – even one of the most profitable brands in the world.
How do you fix this? Have a 12-team playoff. Well, what about player safety? You’re only adding a maximum of 4 games to the end of the season, 2 more than the current maximum amount. Well, what about player opt outs? Adding 8 more teams to the playoff would drastically decrease players opting out of bowl games. As far as I know, NO players have opted out of a playoff game to date (there could be scenarios in which a player has an “injury” and doesn’t play, but no player has straight up opted out). Well, I don’t want to lose the Idaho Potato Bowl, what about that? Each playoff game can be a New Year’s Six Bowl game or other highly touted bowl game. This is awesome, where do I sign!? No idea…
All jokes aside, my theoretical model would look like this. Similar to the College Basketball tournament, all Power 5 conference winners would get an automatic bid, followed by the remaining top 7 teams. I thought about including the Group of 5 conference winners as well, but then you would miss out on the runner ups in the the Power 5 conferences and other, more deserving, candidates. The top 4 teams would get a 1st round bye and the remaining 8 would battle it out. For a better understanding, let’s use last year’s conference winners and top 12 teams to show what the playoff matchups would’ve looked like (Note, I’m going to pick winners solely based off of seeding, this is not how I think this would play out…that would be for another article):
Power 5 Conference Champs (Auto Bids)
- ACC = (12) Pittsburgh
- Big Ten = (2)Michigan
- Big 12 = (7) Baylor
- Pac 12 = (11) Utah
- SEC = (1) Alabama
- (3) Georgia
- (4) Cincinnati
- (5) Notre Dame
- (6) Ohio St.
- (8) Ole Miss
- (9) Oklahoma St.
- (10) Michigan St.
BYE – (1) Alabama, (2) Michigan, (3) Georgia, (4) Cincinnati
- (5) Notre Dame v (12) Pittsburgh
- (6) Ohio St. v (11) Utah
- (7) Baylor v (10) Michigan St.
- (8) Ole Miss. v (9) Oklahoma St.
- (1) Alabama v (8) Ole Miss
- (2) Michigan v (7) Baylor
- (3) Georgia v (6) Ohio St.
- (4) Cincinnati v (5) Notre Dame
- (1) Alabama v (4) Cincinnati
- (2) Michigan v (3) Georgia
- (1) Alabama v (3) Georgia (come on you didnt think I would leave out the actual champ did you?)
This would entail a lot of GREAT matchups and make this beautiful sport all the better! Until the playoffs are expanded however, we are going to continue to hear the same old gripe…there’s no parity in college football.
College Football Top 4 Last 10 Years
College Basketball Top 4 Last 10 Years