Embrace playoff drama instead of pushing for expansion

Alabama head coach Nick Saban walks the field before the Iron Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban walks the field before the Iron Bowl NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Let the debate begin.

For weeks, there's been plenty of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing surrounding the top of the College Football Playoff rankings _ and that was just from the 13 members of the selection committee. How ironic that Twitter doubled its character count around the same time of the first rankings, allowing critics more chances to describe how they truly felt about the committee's choices.

Through it all, the committee members have tuned out all the noise and stuck to their guns with the rankings. They proved that point Sunday when the put a one-loss Alabama team in a semifinal instead of a two-loss conference champion in Ohio State.

"The committee just made a statement. They are not into appeasing people's agendas. They are going to do what they think is right regardless if you agree or disagree," ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said following the shocking reveal.

Herbstreit's broadcasting partner, Jessie Palmer, didn't hold back on his thoughts on the rankings.

"The committee really is in love with Alabama. ... I am not convinced Alabama is one of the top four teams in the country. ... I am not convinced Alabama would have beaten Wisconsin this past weekend," Palmer said.

As you might expect, the reaction on social media was anything but calm, with critics calling for the playoff to expand to avoid snubbing a conference champion again in the future.


The playoff has done exactly what the conference commissioners had hoped it would do: grab the attention of the average college football fan for six consecutive weeks. Love it or hate it, the playoff rankings were the talk of the water cooler the following morning.

And this year, most of the conference championships were in essence, playoff play-in games. Win-and-you're in. It's as simple as that.

"We would take that every year for the ACC Championship Game _ to in essence be a quarterfinal playoff game," ACC commissioner John Swofford said Friday. "That just elevates the game so much more."

Even Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who was asked about the possibility of not making the playoff Saturday night after the Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten Championship Game, couldn't deny the playoff's impact.

"[It's] just amazing how important this playoff is and how the whole world revolves around it. I hope we get a shot," he said.

When asked whether he believes the playoff should expand, Miami athletics director Blake James wasn't sold on the idea.

"A lot of ways, I think it's happened. It's happening this weekend. You have the ACC champion most likely going to the playoff, the SEC champion most likely going to the playoff and the Big 12 champion potentially could be going to the playoff," James said. "It hasn't been formalized to say an eight-team [playoff] or a 10-team [playoff], but when you look at this weekend, this is playoff weekend. Last weekend, was playoff weekend. I think one of the special things about college football is that it keeps every week important. Teams can't look at it and say, 'We're in so we don't have to worry about these remaining games.' "

Even Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, whose conference will be without a contender for the second time in the first four seasons of the playoff, isn't eager to see the model expand.

"I have not been in favor of that. I think as we balance the importance of the bowls, the traditions that the Pac-12 has with the Rose Bowl and others, I think it's been great for college football that we've moved to a playoff. But I think four is the right number," he said.

"Yeah, it was designed so we have fewer spots than we have conferences. So we always know it there will be years where certain conferences don't have a team in."

There is also the wear and tear factor on the athletes themselves.

Pushing the playoff to six-or-eight teams means some team is going to have to play 15 or 16 games. That's moving dangerously close to an NFL schedule. It would also mean teams would have to start the playoff earlier if they wanted to avoid playing games into the spring semester. No one associated with college football wants to do that.

With the current College Football Playoff system set through 2025, expansion doesn't appear to be an option any time soon.

So until then, learn to embrace the chaos.

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