Those in charge of college football appear to be in no rush to expand the playoff. Eventually, the lure of the almighty dollar will be succumbed to, and the football-hungry public appropriately pandered. We’ll go to eight teams and it will be fine, even if it’s a solution in search of a problem.
How can I say that? Because the playoff structure has one goal above all others. To crown a worthy champion, one who proves it on the field. By that metric, the experiment, still in its toddler stage, has been a success.
Clemson finished a 15-0 campaign by curb-stomping Alabama, its second national title in the last three years. The Tide survived Georgia in overtime last year, and bested the Tigers at the buzzer in 2016. Ohio State shocked the world by running wild with a third-string quarterback in the inaugural tournament.
No one ever wants to leave well enough alone. But if cooler heads would prevail, perhaps they’ll notice we’re in the sweet spot right now. Vestiges of an exclusive past, where only the crown jewel of the landscape could be anointed by the press, linger. Narrow is the eye of the needle teams must pass through to make it to the final four. This maintains the life-and-death nature of the regular season.
The main complaint of the poll era has been addressed, and improved from the BCS. Titles must be won on the field. And though they haven’t always been snatched by the best overall team, they’ve been won by coming up big in the moment. That is sports.
Those with long memories will recall this is all college football fans ever wanted. Two teams actively competing for a championship against each other.
We have that now.
Is this a perfect system? No. But it’s worth considering how far we’ve come and how relatively smooth everything has been since this crazy playoff idea was enacted. Clemson winning last night means a No. 1 seed has never captured the ultimate prize.
The system is working when it comes to accomplishing its main goal. The ancillary ones, combined with selfish motivations, will eventually obscure that truth, but it won’t ever be less true.