I love college football, I really do. I have followed college football closely for the last four seasons, and the biggest criticism everyone has is its predictability. Alabama is always going to be in the championship, and they are going to be playing a team like Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma or Ohio State.
Teams in different tiers than those programs not only have little chance at a championship, they have no chance to even play for a shot at a championship. It is truly an unfair sport, and the arrival of the College Football Playoff made that even more clear. If you are not an already-established powerhouse, the deck is stacked completely against you.
It is virtually impossible for 120 out of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams to compete for a National Championship. Essentially, the entire season is the top 10 teams competing for four spots in the CFP. No other team, no matter how great its season is, will ever see their season end with anything other than an “illustrious” bowl game appearance.
What makes college basketball so great is that, in a 64-team field, upsets happen and unexpected teams can make championship runs. Teams like Duke, UNC and Kentucky do not win every single year. Other, lesser-known teams have a chance to make history if they earn a spot in the tournament.
College football could definitely take some tips from college basketball. Obviously, a 64-team tournament would not work for football, but how about a field of 16? The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level has a 24-team tournament with eight first-round byes. Why can’t FBS do something similar? It would give other teams more to play for. It boggles my mind that after 150 years, college football still has not figured out that turning some of these fairly meaningless bowl games into an organized tournament would be awesome for the sport.
Alabama would still be the favorite to win every year, much like Duke is in March Madness, but as we see, upsets always happen. The current college football playoff system does not allow for those upsets to happen. It does not allow 90% of teams to even pursue what should be their biggest goal: A championship.
The CFP is a step up from the old Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system that was a one-game championship between the top two teams, but in my opinion, four teams is not enough. It should be expanded so other deserving teams can have a chance to play for a title.
What made me decide to write about this now is what happened this weekend between South Carolina and Georgia. South Carolina, a 21-point underdog, came in and beat No. 3 Georgia on its home turf. It was awesome, except when you realize that there is never a chance for a game like that to happen on a bigger stage. A team like South Carolina has as much of a chance as UConn of making the CFP, but we just saw what they could do against a CFP-caliber team like Georgia.
Earlier this season, UNC gave Clemson, ranked No. 1 at the time, a run for its money. Why can’t games like that happen in a tournament setting? It would be so cool to see a team like SMU, who is ranked No. 19 at the moment with one of its best seasons ever, play a team like Florida in a playoff setting.
Someone may say, “Well, SMU would have no chance against an SEC team.” But that is not true; even when a team seemingly has no chance, it does have a chance because there is still a game to play. In fact, when a team that is counted out actually shocks the world with a win, it is usually a historic highlight for years to come.
Look at all the No. 14, No. 15 and even No. 16 seeds that accomplished upsets in the first round of March Madness. It does not happen often, but when it does, it is unbelievable. College football is a national pastime beloved by many, but it could be better if it was more fair to non-powerhouse teams.
By denying mid-level schools the chance to play for a national championship, college football created an unfair system where the same teams are set up to win every year, and it is not right.
Danny Barletta is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @dbars_12.