An Eight-Team Playoff – Now

It was only a matter of time.

Yet, though bad, it could have been worse. And, in future years, it likely will be.

But now we have proof enough that a four-team playoff in college football is insufficient. This year, in my view, only Alabama merits sure inclusion. It gets crazy from there.

Let’s start in Happy Valley. Penn State would make the argument that they both beat Ohio State and won the Big Ten championship. Even with two losses, their case, at least for inclusion, is strong.

And, as we look at the rest of the competitive teams, how confident can we be about the other picks of the committee? However these “experts” came to their decisions, are we really convinced, for example, that Washington is better than Penn State and Michigan? One loss in a terribly easy schedule should not be deemed better than two losses in a tough conference with big wins against top teams.

And Clemson? Look at their pitiful schedule. Do we want to say their work merits beating out Michigan, Penn State or even Oklahoma, for that matter? After a rough start, Oklahoma, like Penn State, came on strong to win 9 straight games against a stronger set of opponents.

Recall Michigan’s situation. They handily beat Penn State, and they beat Wisconsin, the two teams in the Big Ten championship game. They beat Colorado. They lost two games on the last play of each game, including the game in overtime with Ohio State at Columbus.

Last year, the problem began to surface with Stanford’s exclusion. This year, it’s gotten worse. In future years, it will likely get even worse.

The role for committees and pundits and points should be reduced again. (Aren’t you totally tired of pundits and TV talkers, by the way?) This experiment with four teams is an improvement, to be sure. But let’s take the needed next step. I realize if there’s an eight-team playoff there will be teams in the 9th and 10th spots who will complain. No system is perfect. But making it over the bar of at least the top eight to compete for the national championship is probably the right and best marker.

So, Alabama should absolutely be in. Ohio State, Clemson, Washington, Michigan, Penn State, and Oklahoma ought to be among those to play, too. They’re too close in achievement for a committee to be able to make legitimate off-the-field judgments in favor of some and against others in the group. Let’s not just be satisfied that the committee did the best it could and accept it. Let the close decisions be resolved on the field, not in the committee room.

The bureaucrats complain the season will be too long if there’s an extended season. Balderdash! Cut out one of the meaningless early games. Or eliminate the conference championship games. Or, perhaps best of all, let four teams play extra games.

Fans would love it. The revenues would be huge and could be shared appropriately. Although the details would have to be worked out, the existing bowls could largely share in hosting most or all of the games.

I repeat: it will only get worse. There will be years when the problem is greater than it is this year.

So, fix it ASAP. Pretty please.