Opinion: Time to Expand CFP Field to Eight

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)


The College Football Playoff has a numbers problem. As in, not enough of them.

The exclusion of Big Ten Conference champion Penn State makes the strongest case yet that a four-team Playoff is inadequate and needs to be expanded. Eight teams would allow a spot for each of the Power Five conference champions and leave room for other deserving teams, muting arguments such as the ones that raged Sunday.

The Big Ten champs will play in the Rose Bowl instead of facing No. 1 Alabama, so some would say the Nittany Lions actually fared better than if they'd made the Playoff.

But that's not the point.

The Big Ten had three teams in the top six of the selection committee's final rankings, cementing its status as the best conference. Yet its champion didn't make the Playoff, though a Big Ten team it beat did.

"The amount of teams that were worthy of this ... I can name six, seven teams right now that are that quality of team," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

No one doubts the sincerity or the diligence that the committee puts into the selection process. The four teams that made the Playoff - Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington - are deserving. But these are subjective decisions, and strong arguments can be made that Penn State, Michigan, even Oklahoma are worthy, too.

"The purpose, the mission of the selection committee is to get the four very best teams in the country," chairman Kirby Hocutt said. "There are many factors that go into that discussion."

It doesn't help that the committee has been inconsistent, the importance it places on various criteria shifting from year to year. And how to account for the vagaries in conference alignment and scheduling over which the teams have no control?

"Every year is going to be different. Football seasons are like snowflakes, they're all different," Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said. "When we started the Playoff, people said this will grow the game. I said, 'This game is already off the charts in popularity.' But we have proven that this college football tree can grow. Indeed, grow to the sky."

To grow, though, trees need room to branch out. So, too, the College Football Playoff.

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December 5, 2016


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