If you are anything like me, you long to hear the sound of trumpets and bagpipes playing on the campus of Our Lady’s University on a warm fall day while you parade around without a care in the world. However, we are well into cold Indiana winter. This winter is ripe with midterms and spring break-planning woes, during which the widely beloved Notre Dame football season seems so far away. There is no way to understate the crucial cultural importance of college football in the town of South Bend. Or for that matter, in places like Tuscaloosa, Athens or Columbus.
There is one monumental achievement of this uniquely American sport that we have all come to love. This is, of course, the one and only National Championship Trophy that waits for the winner of the College Football Playoff (CFP). South Bend has not fared as well as of late in that postseason promised land. However, there is something purely magical about being selected to go to the CFP and the hope it can inspire in a team. One of the biggest grumbling and rumblings in the sports world in recent years has been that the playoff is too exclusive of a club and that only the blue bloods of college football even stand a shot at making it in.
This topic is of recent relevance because of a meeting held last week with the Notre Dame Athletic Director and the commissioners of all of the FBS conferences that ruled about CFP expansion. It ended up being more of a failure to reach an agreement. The leaders decided not to change the formatting of the playoff until the current contract expires in 2025. To put that into a little context, there is not a traditional four-year student at Notre Dame today who will watch a CFP with more than four teams in their time here. This is quite frustrating for many. Before the meeting, there were many rumors of the group coming to the consensus of an eight or even twelve-team playoff.
While traditionalists have argued that the four-team system is a better alternative to expansion, there is still the yearning in the minds of many fans that expanding the playoff could unlock a whole new marvelous level of college sports. For those readers who are itching to feel that same level of maddening desire for a larger playoff pool, here's why it should happen.
Fans want Cinderella TeamsThere's one huge criticism of expansion, regarding the titans of college football. Would Alabama, Georgia or Ohio State be belittled into playing the lowest seeds in a playoff? Critics complain that these games would be boring and deteriorate the quality of the sport. Shall they need reminding of an old tale about our dear friend David and his encounter with Goliath?
Sure maybe the lower seed loses four out of five times. But that one time would flip the college football world upside down forever. They could be regarded as the 2007 Boise State Fiesta Bowl win all over again. However, as sweet as that moment in time was, college football fans could see that every season. Also, the admission of Cincinnati into the CFP as the first-ever non-Power Five school and their not quite atrocious 27-6 loss against Alabama could have been a beautiful segway into this new reality.
Less of the Same Old Same OldSome people love watching the same nine seasons of The Office over and over again. However, most college football fans do not feel the same way. If there is any way to avoid providing the legend that is Nick Saban with a dozen more CFP championship rings, I'm more than eager to give it a try. Ever since the playoff first debuted in 2014, only thirteen different schools have been represented. 124 teams make up the FBS.
The chance that any expansion to the playoff has to bring in more diversity to the game’s most cherished event is worth much more than any possible detractors. I believe that with this expansion to the playoff, there would be a much less proficient path for the blue bloods of the sport to remain in their dynastic control over the game of college football. This, in turn, would allow many more fan bases across the country to share in the happiness of a successful season.
One loss no longer ends the seasonA result of playoff expansion would be a more forgiving nature for contenders. In the current design of the CFP landscape, only conference champions with a spotless record merit a spot. This way there will be a slew of teams in the playoff with two or even three losses. While this may not immediately seem like a solution, this would prevent the complete ruin that a playoff-hopeful team can fall into after a loss or two.
A talented two-loss team shouldn't need to prepare for a bowl game that feels like an exhausting consolation prize. Rather, they could still be in the hunt for a national title. This could also lead to teams facing each other multiple times in the entirety of a season. The Notre Dame-Clemson series, rooted in revenge and rivalry, exhibited this idea. Expansion would extend the playoff hunt for a number of teams that would have been eliminated by traditional measures. Therefore, it extends the season’s ride for more fans.
A majority of fans across the country supported the idea of CFP expansion. Sadly, this is not the case with the individuals making these decisions. As this issue continues to plague the sport we all love and we ponder this in the middle of the cold Indiana winter, one can only ask, “How could more football possibly be a bad thing?”