As of last week, the top four in the college football standings were: #1 Alabama 12-0, #2 Clemson 12-0, #3 Notre Dame 12-0, and #4 Georgia 11-1. By now this has already changed since Alabama played Georgia last Saturday. The top final four will play for the national championship. As I have said before, the current playoff system is insufficient.
There are at least four more teams who have a valid claim that they should be in the playoffs. These, as of last week, were: Oklahoma 11-1, Ohio State 11-1, University of Central Florida 11-0, and Michigan 10-2. For the most part, the exception being Washington at 10-2, the other teams have either three or four losses and shouldn’t be given consideration.
The playoffs should include the top eight teams. It’s as simple as that. Last year UCF was undefeated and denied a slot in the top four. This year UCF is still undefeated and is still denied an opportunity. Last year, UCF defeated Auburn in the Peach Bowl which gives them an undefeated streak of 23-0. Yet, they are likely to be denied again.
Game schedules have a lot to do with the selections but so does politics. So, take the politics out of it. Open up the process. Basketball isn’t afraid to do so — why is football?
I, for one, would love to see an undefeated Alabama team play an undefeated UCF in the finals. Maybe Alabama would beat UCF 72-6. But maybe not. In 2007, Appalachian State University stunned the fifth ranked University of Michigan 34-32 at Michigan in what was called one of the biggest upsets in college football. ASU finished that season 13-2. This year, it took Penn State an anxious overtime to put ASU away and finally earn the win. This year App State is 9-2 with one game to have played last Saturday. Earlier this year unheralded Troy University of Alabama traveled to Nebraska to deal the Cornhuskers an embarrassing defeat in what was supposed to just be a warm-up game. Go David, beat Goliath!
An eight-team playoff would add only one additional game to the schedule and would galvanize the football nation. So far this year, three of the top four team are Southern. Bring in the other four and the possibilities go from Washington, to Florida, to Ohio to Oklahoma, and to Michigan. It’s good business for one thing and great TV for another.
And, can you imagine the excitement if UFC were, somehow to beat Alabama (or whoever is in the final game)? Smaller schools everywhere would vicariously rejoice.
On a personal level, the four-team playoff system works for me. I enjoy seeing the national championship come home to the South year after year. I’m perfectly happy with the knowledge the 11 of the last 12 champions are from the South. If one goes back to 1998, Southern teams won 15 out of 20 times.
It’s a simple solution for a tremendous reward. It’s a no-brainer, really. Expand the playoffs. It’s for the good of the game.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City (www.ctk.life). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]