I’m going to be brutally honest: the current FBS College Football Playoff format is horrendous. It’s awful, lazy, and the worst part of college football, yet billions of dollars are pumped into this sport, and this is the best that the NCAA can give us. With all of this being said, let’s take a look at how this four-seed format can be improved.

The System Doesn’t Work

After dozens of games across the country in several conferences, the College Football Playoff Committee really tries to tell us that only four teams are good enough to make a run at the championship. In other words, when you look at the teams that didn’t make the top-four, aren’t there some teams that you believe deserved a shot? Take a look at the final rankings, retrieved from ESPN.


RANKINGS
TEAMRECORDCFPAP POLLSOSSORGCRATRK
Alabama11-011151134.71
Clemson10-122136427.13
Ohio State6-033412330.02
Notre Dame10-144641319.37
Texas A&M8-155173917.39
Oklahoma8-268217224.14
Florida8-37101181217.012
Cincinnati9-0865310514.716
Georgia7-29111081521.95
Iowa State8-310127111817.011
Indiana6-1117245716.213

The system doesn’t work because all of the drama leading up to the playoffs revolves around who is in. Therefore, almost none of the drama occurs in the game itself. More teams should be allowed in so that more drama is created in the playoffs.

History of the College Football Playoff

This version of the playoffs bracket debuted in 2015, and since its’ creation, almost all of the games were disgusting. Don’t believe me? Then feel free to check out the scores retrieved from the College Football Playoff site.

Scores
YEARPLAYOFF SEMIFINALPLAYOFF SEMIFINALNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
2020Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl
No. 1 LSU 63,
No. 4 Oklahoma 28
Playoff Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl
No. 3 Clemson 29,
No. 2 Ohio State 23
CFP National Championship:
New Orleans

No. 1 LSU 42,
No. 3 Clemson 25
2019Playoff Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic
No. 2 Clemson 30,
No. 3 Notre Dame 3
Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl
No. 1 Alabama 45,
No. 4 Oklahoma 34
CFP National Championship:
Bay Area

No. 2 Clemson 44,
No. 1 Alabama 16
2018Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game
No. 3 Georgia 54,
No. 2 Oklahoma 48 (2OT)
Playoff Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl
No. 4 Alabama 24,
No. 1 Clemson 6
CFP National Championship:
Atlanta

No. 4 Alabama 26,
No. 3 Georgia 23 (OT)
2017Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl
No. 1 Alabama 24,
No. 4 Washington 7
Playoff Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl
No. 2 Clemson 31,
No. 3 Ohio State 0
CFP National Championship:
Tampa

No. 2 Clemson 35,
No. 1 Alabama 31
2016Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl
No. 1 Clemson 37
No. 4 Oklahoma 17
Playoff Semifinal at the Cotton Bowl Classic
No. 2 Alabama 38,
No. 3 Michigan State 0
CFP National Championship:
Arizona

No. 2 Alabama 45,
No. 1 Clemson 40
2015Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game
No. 2 Oregon 59,
No. 3 Florida State 20
Playoff Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl
No. 4 Ohio State 42,
No. 1 Alabama 35
CFP National Championship:
North Texas

No. 4 Ohio State 42,
No. 2 Oregon 20

Analysis

As you can see from these scores, out of the 12 college football playoff games played, only three of the final outcomes were within one score. Therefore, only one playoff game every two years is good. Is that what the NCAA wants? Moreover, when you look at the final scores of the championship games, only half of the final scores are close. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about that.

Why the College Football Playoff Is Formatted Like This

One of the main arguments for only having four teams is that there are health concerns. If there are more games to be played then there are more health concerns. Players don’t want to hurt their chances at a career in the NFL, therefore they don’t want to play in more games.

This isn’t the only argument for not having more than four teams. Athletic Directors believe that their student athletes need more time to study for exams and wouldn’t be able to accommodate a deep playoff run. While I doubt that every student athlete would actually use that time to study, you can’t really argue this logic. In conclusion, the NCAA argues that their student athletes can’t compete in a playoff bracket because there isn’t enough time for exams and games as well as potential injury risk.

How Can the Playoff Format Be Better?

For those that know me, I went to James Madison University. JMU is one of the powerhouses of football on the FCS level, for those that don’t know. Below, I’ve included an example of the FCS Playoff Bracket.

2019 FCS bracket

In contrast to a meager four-team playoff bracket, this beautiful bracket features 24 teams. The bracket didn’t feature much drama in regard to who is in and who isn’t. Instead, the bracket had drama in the games. For example, in the second round, Central Arkansas was upset by Illinois State after Central Arkansas had a bye-week. The FCS players can manage school work on top of more games, can the FBS players not?

Maybe I’m a guy who’s tired of the shortened, terrible playoff system. Maybe I’m also a guy who’s salty that Texas A&M didn’t make the playoffs but Notre Dame did. All I know is that I’m exhausted by these terrible games and I want to see something better. I’m not saying the FBS has to adopt a full 24-team playoff bracket, but expansion is needed.

If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to check out my piece about the NFC’s New Year’s Resolutions here! Be sure to follow Belly Up Sports for your latest coverage.
Spencer Barras
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Spencer Barras

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