College Football Playoff expansion is coming.
It may not be in 2022, but it won’t be long after. Discussions over expansion have been around since the first CFP replaced the BCS system in 2014.
The CFP was said to be solution to an exclusionary BCS process that many felt struggled to identify the best team and often left us with controversy following the national title game. Now, however, we’ve just moved the bar. While the fifth-ranked team likely doesn’t have much claim to being the best team in the country and/or being deserving of a national title spot, many believe that the larger the playoff, the more teams will have had a fair shot at winning a national title.
The problem here is that playoffs are inherently unfair and a bad barometer of which team has had the best season. Football, of all sports, is the hardest to judge who is truly the best team do to the small sample size of the regular season. In professional sports, I’ve long been in favor of a European soccer style single table in the NHL, NBA and MLB. Because while playoffs are compelling, they often crown the best team over a two-month span and not necessarily the entire season. But with football, you can’t expect teams to be able to play everyone else, especially in college athletics.
Therefore some sort of postseason is a requirement in order to crown a true champion, and I’m here to tell you that the BCS was the best way of determining those postseason representatives.
For those unfamiliar, the BCS was a composite poll made up of two human polls (The Harris Interactive and USA Today Coach’s Poll) and then six, combined computer polls to give each team a final score or rankings. Between the humans and the computers, the polls pretty well accounted for all factors throughout the season.
The formula was so good, even, that it would have selected the same top four as the CFP committee in each of the seven seasons since the switch to a playoff format. Only once has the eventual national champion come from outside the top two in the BCS standings, that coming in 2015 with Ohio State.
So what, exactly, did we fix by the switch?
Playoff games are fun. I won’t debate that. But the BCS was the best system for crowning the best team over the course of the season and in trying to find greener pastures, we killed off the best evaluation system in college football history.