A Simple Solution To The College Football Playoff's Issues
I'm not going to sit here and act like the wrong four teams made the playoff this year, because based on the resumes of every team in consideration, the correct four made it. While I understand the aggravation of Notre Dame making it as the fourth team, the fourth seed has won its first round matchup twice and gone on to win the National Championship both times (Ohio State in 2015 and Alabama in 2018). Aside from those two outliers, the fourth seed (including this year) has lost by an average of 19.6 points. I wouldn't say the problem is necessarily that there are only four teams in the playoff, but there's a reason a team not named Alabama, Clemson or Ohio State has won the National Championship and it simply comes down to recruiting. For example, take a look at the ESPN's rankings of the recruiting classes since 2018:
There's a reason that the same teams consistently fill out the top 10 and it all comes down to winning, and in my opinion, the recruits confidence in a team's chances at making the playoff (aside from Tennessee & Miami) and the cool factor of playing for a historically successful program (Penn State & USC). I'll never dump on a recruit for wanting to play for a program that's still cool and hasn't won anything worthwhile in over a decade. Hell, if I was a five-star quarterback it'd be awfully hard for me to turn down an offer from USC. Probably hard to beat the experience of going to school in LA and the co-eds you interact with, but I digress.
I'm not acting like I have a solution to fixing the playoff, but if you want there to be a realistic chance that you see different teams having a seat at the table, there needs to be a playoff expansion and its solely to take away some of the power away from the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. If the playoff has taught us anything, it's that those three programs are in an elite class amongst themselves and most likely be for the foreseeable future. So my groundbreaking solution looks like this:
Power 5 Conference Champions
Best Group of 5 Team
2 Wild Cards
With that this year's playoff would have shaken up like this
Notre Dame (Wild Card)
Texas A&M (Wild Card)
Cincinnati (Group of 5)
While this sucks for a team like Coastal Carolina in the hypothetical situation, it helps start the conversation for getting a greater range of teams a seat at the table. There's no reason to expand to the 24-team playoff that the FCS rolls out each year, and quite frankly that would never happen because of all of the bowl games. Don't get it twisted, I think Oregon and Iowa State get their doors blown off, but if the NCAA wants to avoid future UCF National Champion situations, the idea at least needs to be]e explored. Allowing each Power 5 Champ a seat at the table is going to create more parity within conferences and the best Group of 5 team at least are given an illusion that they have a chance at the National Title. Let them get smacked around, let them know that the Power 5 Conferences are still boss and move on with your day, but guess what? They still had the opportunity to do it.
In all honesty, I understand if you come at my argument with the counterpoint of making the regular season mean less, but wouldn't you prefer to watch an Orange Bowl mean something instead of UNC and A&M playing for nothing. Again, I'm not acting like this is THE solution, but something has to change if there's ever going to be any type of parity in college football.