Five Ways To Enhance The College Football Playoff
There has to be a better way to crown a champion.
CFP change is needed.
This post originally appeared on Trojans Wire. Check their site for USC coverage.
The College Football Playoff once again featured made-for-TV matchups with heavyweight programs… and it once again delivered a series of games which weren’t particularly close and didn’t capture the public’s imagination.
The Ohio State-Alabama national championship game was the least-watched national championship game of either the College Football Playoff era or the Bowl Championship Series era. A total of 18.7 million viewers watched the Buckeyes get blasted by the Crimson Tide.
The previous low for total viewership in a BCS or playoff championship game was the 2005 Orange Bowl, when USC’s second-quarter blitzkrieg against Oklahoma caused Americans to turn off their sets before halftime. A total of 21.4 million viewers tuned into that game.
As a point of comparison, last year’s championship game between Clemson and LSU drew 25.6 million viewers. That puts Ohio State-Alabama roughly seven million viewers below Clemson-LSU. Given Ohio State’s national brand, and given the reality that Ohio State’s presence made this year’s championship game an intersectional clash with representation from multiple regions, that’s an eye-opener. It wasn’t an all-South affair. That ostensibly should have boosted the ratings for this game.
Instead, numbers plummeted.
Many are saying the dominance of college football by a small and select — and unchanging — group of teams is killing interest in the sport. I personally have my own very specific views on the matter of how we improve college football’s postseason, but if we are going to consider ways of enhancing the College Football Playoff — and not trying other structures or plans — I have ideas on that subject as well.
Let’s look at five ways of enhancing the College Football Playoff, whose contract goes through the 2025 season.
5. MOVE TO 8 TEAMS
This is the move which makes the most sense for anyone who wants to keep the College Football Playoff — instead of moving to a different system — but reform the playoff to make it better.
Give the Cincinnatis and UCFs of the world a chance to play a quarterfinal game. Give them their place at the table. It’s a source of great annoyance and frustration that the same six or seven schools are in the playoff on a regular basis.
Check out these facts: There have been seven College Football Playoffs, meaning that 21 playoff games have been played (three games each season, two semifinals and one title game). Of those 21 games, 17 have been won by just three schools, 14 by only two.
Alabama has won eight playoff games. Clemson has won six. Ohio State has won three.
LSU won two playoff games when winning the 2019 national championship. Oregon won a 2014 semifinal and Georgia won a 2017 semifinal.
Keep in mind, too, that if Alabama and Clemson had been placed in opposite halves of the 2017 College Football Playoff, instead of meeting in the semifinals that season, Georgia might not have won its game, and 15 of 21 playoff games could have been won by just two teams.
Give the Group of Five champion a place at the table. Freshen up the matchups. Extend the reach of the playoff geographically and culturally. Move to eight.
4. ON-CAMPUS QUARTERFINALS
If we are going to ask the top four seeds to play an extra playoff game in order to win the national title, we can at least give them a home game in the quarterfinals. The Group of Five champion gets its spot in a playoff quarterfinal, but the price for that precious postseason bid is a road game against a brand-name team. It’s a reasonable tradeoff.
Having a campus atmosphere for a playoff game would enliven the event and make it less corporate. If we want to make the College Football Playoff better, this seems like another widely popular thing to do.