Every year one College Football Program lifts the national championship trophy and subsequently earns the title of best College Football team in the world. Ideally, this title would be a consensus held by most after a team rises to the pinnacle of its respected sport. However, the current 4 team playoff format often leaves out teams that are thought to be better than those that earn the chance to play for the title.
In 2020, many felt that a team like Cincinnati, which went undefeated in the American Athletic Conference and was ranked 4th in an average of 50 unofficial polls, earned the right to a top 4 finish. Instead, the Bearcats were officially ranked 7th. Behind both Oklahoma and Florida, the former which lost 2 out of its first 3 games and the latter which tallied 3 losses on the year.
Every year, teams like Cincinnati get snubbed out of a playoff spot to other powerful programs. Not to say that these other programs are not deserving of a playoff spot themselves. The selection committee will be the first to say that it is simply a matter of not having enough spots for teams that deserve them. After all, there are 125 Division I football teams, and only 4 get the chance to play for the trophy.
This is why the NCAA has proposed a plan to expand the playoff field to 12 teams in the coming years. A proposal that would give more of the top teams a chance to win it all, and more student bodies to cheer their teams and conferences on in the playoffs. It would also mean more games and potentially more injuries for the players.
This is where the split comes into play.
High-profiled Players and Coaches have voiced their opinions against expansion. Most notable of the bunch, Dabo Sweeney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers.
"Our team wasn't for it”, Sweeney said, according to The Athletic's Grace Raynor. "They don't want to play more games. And to be honest with you, I don't think there are 12 teams good enough."
The argument against more games and potentially more injuries is one many players, parents and NFL scouts will agree on. The second part of his argument, “...I don't think there are 12 teams good enough.”, is one that many will strongly oppose.
Oklahoma Sooners Head Coach Lincoln Riley went on the record at Big 12 media day to say, “I think the expansion that’s been proposed is a great start. I commend the committee that put it together because you’ve got to put yourself out there. You’ve got to start somewhere,”. Taking a completely opposing stance to Coach Sweeney and the Tigers program.
Lincoln went on to say, “And I certainly think the more teams that are competing for that playoff come November and December, the more universities and student bodies are engaged in the entirety of the finish of the season”. Addressing the financial and entertainment benefits of having more teams participate in elimination football.
With the expansion proposal needing a couple of years to take place, it seems for now that teams like Cincinnati and other talented teams will continue to just miss the boat on a title shot to larger more influential programs.
However, this new proposal sheds hope onto those programs that fall just outside of the top 4 that a potential title shot may very well be in their near future.