With the NCAA tournament finally here, we take our annual look at how a 64-team college football tournament would play out ⤵— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) March 17, 2021
(via @ClowESPN) https://t.co/B6QfVE5F1J
With the NCAA Tournament set to tip-off in less than 24 hours, brackets are the main topic of conversation around the country. While college basketball has been thrilling millions for years with March Madness, college football has struggled to find the same type of event that can capture the attention of the nation.
Don’t get it twisted though, college football is still king when it comes to college sports. Division I has started to dip their toe into the tournament structure with the College Football Playoff, with the four-team playoff beginning play in 2014. Despite the hype of the annual playoff, often times it fails to deliver, with most of the games ending up being blowouts. A lot of that could have to do with the disparity in talent between the top tier programs and the rest of the teams around the country.
Since the playoff’s inception, there has been talk about expanding the playoff to eight teams, or to even mirror the FCS model and include 16 teams in the playoff. ESPN’s Chris Low went even farther, mocking up a 64-team College Football Playoff, using SP+ projections heading into the 2021 season to determine seeding.
It should come as no surprise that Ohio State has earned a one-seed in the hypothetical college football tournament, since the Buckeyes have become a fixture in the College Football Playoff. Joining the Buckeyes as top seeds are Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma. If the tournament actually became an annual event, you pretty much could pencil those four in as number one seeds yearly, and maybe throw in Georgia as an alternate to replace one of those teams in the event of a down year.
Immediately one of the thoughts about a 64-team college football playoff is we aren’t going to get one of the things that we see so much in March Madness that we love so much. Upsets. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we’d still see some lower seeds beating higher seeds, but it’s just hard to see 12 or 13 seeds winning on a regular basis like we do in college basketball. Even if those lower seeds do win, we are unlikely to see them make that Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight that captivates the country.
One thing that I did notice about Low’s playoff was the Big Ten was well represented. Of the 14 teams in the Big Ten, 12 of them made football’s “big dance”. That’s where the fun ends for most of the conference though, as predictions have only five Big Ten teams making it to the second round. What makes this fantasy playoff even crazier is Nebraska is one of those teams. Now you really know this isn’t something that is ever going to happen.
Of course this would be a logistical nightmare for schools, especially right now as the world is still dealing with a pandemic. Would it be fun to see once? Yes. But if it was every year, it might get a little too repetitive. One of the beautiful things about college basketball’s NCAA Tournament is that there is regularly some fresh blood making some noise. It’s hard to find the Loyolas, Wichita States, and George Masons of college football.
Right now it feels like college football has it right. While four teams might seem a little small, and there are always a couple teams that feel like they were snubbed, you are going to have the same problem if you expand to eight teams. Maybe you expand to try and get some playoff games that are actually competitive, but if they don’t turn out that way then you are just adding more blowouts to a playoff that is primarily blowouts these days.
Even though the start of the NCAA Tournament is rapidly closing in, there is still time to enter LGHL’s bracket contest and show that you are the best bracketologist amongst our faithful readers. If you put up the best score, you’ll end up winning a sweet t-shirt from our friends at BreakingT.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter as well, as we’ll have coverage of Ohio State’s first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon against Oral Roberts, and the rest of the tournament run for the Buckeyes.