Ryan Smoot offers his viewpoint on whether to expand the college football playoffs. For Rajee Ganesan's dissenting opinion, click here.
It pains me to agree with the NCAA, but the college football postseason — from the Camping World Independence Bowl to the four-team College Football Playoffs — is a wonderfully unique mosaic and should remain so. There’s a strong appeal to expansion, I get it. We love making brackets, and rooting for the Cinderella stories that inevitably break them.
But college football is far different than basketball, and the physicality of the game is reason alone to hesitate in adding additional games. Adding one or two games would heighten the injury risk to already exhausted players, all while the NCAA reaps in revenue and players remain unpaid.
While the NCAA seems to be headed toward compensating players for their likeness, only star players will reap the benefits; not the obscure offensive lineman that continuously absorbs on-field impacts. As such, a majority of former CFB Playoff players are against the idea of expansion.
“There's way too many games," former Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley told CBS Sports. "There's no way you can add more games. It won't work. It's amazing to play (in the playoff), but it's very tiring, especially coming straight out of high school and you're not ready for those long seasons.”
It’s tempting to want more games as a fan, but the scarcity of college football is what makes it so great and leaves us hungry for more. The NFL is a similar product, but the sheer amount of games makes it less special — it’s intro-level economics, the same reason why people thirst for a Supreme box logo tee over an Old Navy sweater.
Expanding the playoffs will inevitably ruin college football’s regular season, by both shortening the season and diminishing the importance of weekly games. The playoffs in college football are not just two weeks — it’s the entire season. Lose twice in a season and lose your chance at hoisting the championship trophy.
This encourages teams to schedule better competition in the regular season, having to prove their worth to the selection committee; separating a 9-1 Alabama team that lost to No. 1 LSU from a 9-1 Appalachian State team that lost to Georgia Southern.
Expansion to eight teams, or even six, would likely mean automatic playoff bids to Power Five conference championship winners. It might seem appealing to limit the bias of the CFP selection committee, but they’re subjective only in creating the most compelling matchups. With automatic bids, the 2012 Big Ten Champion — an 8-5 Wisconsin team — would advance into the postseason over far more deserving teams. And sure, deserving teams will still be left out of the 4-seeded playoffs, but so will deserving teams in an 8-seeded postseason.