As the confetti fell around Cardale Jones and the victorious Ohio State Buckeyes, I took the time to reflect on the inaugural College Football Playoff. What would’ve been a national title game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oregon Ducks turned into a chance for Ohio State to cap off a spectacular season with a thrilling win over the Ducks. That was one of the major high points of the playoff, and there were several more. However, there are multiple ways that the newly-installed postseason could improve.
The playoff brought a drastic change to the upper echelon of college football. The postseason matchups were left in the hands of former athletic directors and coaches, and even a former Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice), who met and debated thoroughly until a final ranking was created. This was a welcome change in comparison to the shaky computer polls and the human polls—ten dollars to whoever can make sense of Drew Sharp’s final AP Poll. Go ahead, give it a shot.
There were several positives to take out of the new change. The obvious one is allowing more deserving teams to compete for the trophy. Like I mentioned, Ohio State’s impressive win would’ve been the headline of the Rose Bowl, and we would’ve had to deal with Alabama winning yet another championship or Florida State going back-to-back. The four-team bracket also caused a gigantic spike in viewership. The National Championship Game, Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl now sit as the top three television programs (by viewership) in cable television history.
With all the good that the playoff provided, it still has plenty of room for improvement. The first is the prospect of the New Year’s Six bowls and the subsequent rotation between them. For the next two years, both semifinal games will be held on New Year’s Eve, which will surely hinder viewership with more people working during that time. Additionally, while having semifinal games on the same day is somewhat understandable, having a first game in the middle of the afternoon cuts out a bit of the viewer base as well.
Timing aside, the issue that is incredibly more controversial is expanding the playoff. Six teams deserved to compete for the National Championship this season, and a credible argument for eight could also be made.
While eight is a popular choice, I’m a fan of six—a simple addition of games near the beginning of bowl season (maybe two or so weeks after the conference championship week). This gives an incentive to the top two teams of not only a choice of home field, but also an extended period of rest, recovery and preparation.
The BCS is dead and gone, and a new college football postseason is upon us. The new final four brought a new angle of competition and entertainment to the football universe. While there’s ways that the playoff can be better, it’s absolutely a step in the right direction.