From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about what we would do if we were in charge of our favorite position group, team, conference, or sport. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all our “Unpopular Opinion” articles here.
With it being “Unpopular Opinions” Week, there are plenty of areas we could give our spiciest takes on. We could focus on Ohio State sports, the Big Ten, NIL regulation, and so many other topics. Today we are going to look at the college football postseason since this is the last year of a four-team College Football Playoff before it adds eight more teams starting next season.
Over the past 25 years, we have at least found a way to decide an actual champion in college football. After decades where teams could claim a national title if they thought they deserved it, the BCS ushered in a new era starting in 1998. The BCS finally gave us a true championship game, but it wasn’t long before there was a cry to create a playoff and involve more teams. Ohio State ended up making history as the first team to win the CFP at the end of the 2014 season.
We want to know what is your most unpopular opinion when it comes to the college football postseason. Are there too many teams? Not enough teams? Is there anything you would change about the committee? There are plenty of parts of the college football postseason that have been debated for years, so do your worst!
Today’s question: What is your most unpopular opinion about the college football postseason?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: The BCS was better at deciding who should play for a national championship than the College Football Playoff has been
Sometimes it feels like things only get worse when we have humans involved. The College Football Playoff is one of those things. Honestly, the job of the committee is so easy. All they have to do is watch football every week and use some common sense to decide which four teams should be involved in the playoff. The majority of the time, two or three of the teams in the playoff are fairly obvious. Where the committee gets in trouble is when they have to actually use their brains to decide between teams vying to round out the playoff.
At least computers take feelings out of the equation and just get down to the facts. With the committee, you get a bunch of athletic directors, old head coaches, and a few other members. Why they needed a former Army Chief of Staff to help decide on a four-team field is beyond me. Also, you can’t tell me that those athletic directors and former coaches are going to be 100% objective. Imagine how salty Barry Alvarez was having to stomach Wisconsin getting smashed by Ohio State 59-0 in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game and having to then accept the Buckeyes as the fourth seed in the inaugural playoff.
The BCS wasn’t perfect, but it felt like it got things right. The only problem with the BCS was it was limited by only allowing two teams to play for a national championship. If you used the BCS formula with the current College Football Playoff or the expanded playoff we’ll see starting next season, it would make things a lot easier than the committee has at times. While a lot of times the playoff field ends up being served up on a silver platter to the committee, I’m frightened to think about what the committee will do when they have to add eight more teams to the playoff.
With some playoff games being played on campus, as well as more bowls being a part of an expanded playoff, things are only going to get messier starting next year with the playoff field being decided by humans. How do we know the committee won’t tinker with the on-campus matchups to make them more attractive for television, even though it’s obvious the rankings would point towards another matchup? What if a bowl is lobbying for a certain team to be sent their way because they know they’ll see more tickets? Computers would let the numbers do all the talking that is necessary. You may be skeptical now but give it a few years and it’ll become obvious.
Matt’s answer: Playoff expansion is good
I realize that my hot take here isn’t likely to be as unpopular as Brett’s, but it is more correct, so you win some, you lose some. Ever since the College Football Playoff announced that it would be officially expanding following the 2024 season, it seems that with each bit of news, people are getting more and more angered by, and less and less excited for, the 16-team playoff.
Well, friends, I am here to tell you that the expanded playoff is going to be a good thing, nay, a great thing for all of college football. From a selfish Ohio State fan perspective, even if Ryan Day never figures out how to beat Jim Harbaugh’s squad again (and heaven help us all if that’s true), the Buckeyes will still be almost locks for the CFP field, assuming they maintain their dominance over the non-winged helmet contingent in the conference.
Does that diminish the importance of The Game? Perhaps in the eyes of outsiders, but for us OSU fans, if there is any situation in which you aren’t amped for the rivalry game, I don’t know that you can truly call yourself a fan. The Buckeyes and Wolverines have played many times over the years when only one, or neither, of the teams was in contention for the Big Ten title or some sort of major postseason berth. And you know what? Those games still had juice, fans from both sides of the border were hyped for those games because as the cliche goes, you can throw out the records when these two teams meet.
Besides, in this scenario, the final contest of the regular season will still play a huge factor in seeding and conference title situations, so even if both teams make it into the field of 12, The Game will still have plenty of meaning. This goes for other conferences as well. This isn’t March Madness; there won’t be sub-.500 teams making the playoff. Will it change the importance of some of the games? Sure. Will it even mitigate some of the stakes? I suppose. But it is not going to undermine the entire regular season like the Chicken Littles on social media like to claim.
There are still byes and home-field advantage to play for, not to mention that a blowout regular season loss could knock a team out of the field when a narrow defeat might not be as damaging. This will impact the regular season, but in my mind, it will only make more games exciting because more teams will have a chance to make the playoff than ever before.
Now, when you take a look at college football at large, I have long argued that having increased access to the championship will only help make the second-tier teams better. Look, I love the fact that the Buckeyes are one of only a very small handful of teams that truly have an opportunity to win the title every year, but the fact that the true championship pool consists of six to eight teams isn’t good for the sport. It leads to those teams continuing to grow the gap between the haves and the have-nots, watering down a large percentage of the games.
Will an expanded playoff lead to some additional lopsided postseason games? I guess, but aren’t there blowouts in bowl games already? And at least in this situation, it is far less likely that the best players will sit out their team’s postseason to focus on the NFL Draft. I completely support any player in making a decision that is best for them and their families, but I find it hard to imagine many folks sitting out a playoff game. Not only would they be forfeiting the chance to win a national title, but also the increased exposure that they could receive from such a widely-viewed game.
Of course, I realize that college football isn’t college basketball, and we shouldn’t expect Cinderella runs on a yearly basis, but just the opportunity to have exciting upsets in the tournament and a squad like Tulane, or Coastal Carolina, or Boise State, or BYU, or Troy having a shot to knock off a Penn State, or Clemson, or, Texas, or UCLA, or Florida State in an opening and then to make their way through the rest of the bracket is thrilling.
Is the current reconstructed College Football Playoff format perfect? No, they need to rearrange the schedule — potentially eliminating conference title games en masse — and get the semifinals on or around New Year’s Day, but in theory, the opportunities to improve the sport and see heretofore unimaginable upsets are just too good to let the perfect get in the way of the great.