Expand the playoffs


Let’s just say openly what every college football fan knows already — that the present system of choosing the top four teams to play in the national championship games is flawed.

The latest furor involves whether Ohio State University should have been chosen over Alabama. Alabama has the better record but was not the divisional or conference champion in the SEC. And a number of other schools feel that they had as much right to a shot at the title as almost any of the top four.

Here’s how the final four standing will play out. Georgia will play Oklahoma. Clemson will do battle with Alabama. Those winners will meet in the national championship game. Some are distressed that two of the teams are from the Southeastern Conference while a third, Clemson, is also a southern team.

Notwithstanding the fact that 10 of the past 11 national champions have been southern teams (the lone exception being Ohio State), some pundits see some type of unfairness in all that.

So, to solve this problem, let’s expand the final four to a total of the final eight teams. It would bring in teams from across the United States, would double the competition, would bring in additional millions in revenues, and would only add one game to the schedule.

After all, the NCAA basketball championships begin with 68 teams and work their way down to a final king of the hill. Why not college football? It’s a win-win situation and, frankly, is a no-brainer.

If the final eight were playing this year, the competing teams would be: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Auburn, Southern California.

This lineup would still not satisfy the fans of, say, the University of Central Florida who were undefeated at 12-0 and were ranked at #12 in the final standings. The problem with UCF, which is one of the largest universities in the nation with an enrollment of 66,000 students, is that is has a weak schedule compared with anybody in the SEC, or the ACC, for that matter.

UCF rolled over almost everybody — but the teams they crushed were schools like Austin Peay, Florida International University, Cincinnati, East Carolina, the University of Connecticut, Temple, and the University of South Florida (USF). The biggest scare they had came in a seven point win in double overtime against the University of Memphis.

If UCF wants to play in the Big Game, they will have to start playing with the Big Boys. When the toughest teams you play are USF and Memphis, you are not in the same league.

But, those who lament these final teams as the four choices for the gold ring have a point. On a given day Georgia beat Auburn after being routed by the same team earlier in the season. Wisconsin could beat Georgia. Ohio State could beat Alabama and Auburn could probably beat Oklahoma. So, let’s find out.

It’s too late for 2017. The die is cast. But future playoffs can be better that this. Let’s open it up for an extra week and see what happens. After all, in the NCAA basketball playoffs, a team can come from nowhere – a David can meet a Goliath — and win it all. Let’s see that happen in football.

Besides the only thing that the national football championship playoffs might have to lose is Southern Domination.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]