I’m starting to come around on 4 as the number of teams in the college football playoff. I still think 8 teams (5 conference champions, 2 wildcards, and 1 group of five) is ultimately the best format for a playoff, but maybe 4 isn’t so bad. Here’s why…
Last season following the 8 team format, the playoff participants would have been.
Florida State 13-0
Ohio State 12-1
Mississippi State 10-2
Boise State 11-2 or Michigan State 10-2 ( if we have 3 wildcards)
While Baylor and TCU certainly looked like playoff teams was Mississippi State? They lost 2 of their last 3 games. 2 losses accounted for 17% of their results. When you play such a limited schedule 2 losses is not an insignificant number. Michigan State’s 2 losses were of the double digit variety. Are those really teams that were worthy of competing for the national title?
Consider if the field was expanded to 16, last season would have resulted in 8 three loss teams making the playoffs. There is no way a 3 loss team should be in the national title hunt, but you say it works in the NFL, and FBS playoffs. I didn’t say those weren’t exciting, but I’d argue the best team isn’t the team that necessarily wins those playoffs. College Football is unique because they can reward the best teams over the course of the whole season.
This season I think similar result will occur with 3 loss teams not in the discussion, and the 2 loss teams missing out on the playoffs. Team like Michigan, Utah, Stanford, and Florida State are already likely eliminated from playoff contention, and I don’t think any are deserving of competing for this year’s national title.
Sure expanded playoffs to 16 would be fun, and an 8 team playoff has it’s merits, but maybe 4 actually isn’t as bad as some thought.