The Case of The College Football Playoff: Eight is Enough...Or Too Much?
Given that my Alma Mater Penn State was the 5th seed last year what I am about to say will not make me very popular. As it is presently constructed, the evidence strongly confirms that the College Football Playoff Should NOT expand past 4 teams yet.
After three years, despite complaints from pundits and fans alike, not one 5th-seed has ever made a successful case that they deserved to be in the playoff. In every year of the College Football playoff the 5th-seeded team has LOST to a lower-seeded team in their bowl game. You cannot credibly argue that a 5th seed might have won the playoff or would have performed better than the 3rd or 4th seeded team if they could not defeat a lower seed.
But wait…there’s more.
The argument against an 8-team playoff runs deeper. Given the results so far, you could make an argument against the need for a 4-team playoff.
The semifinals have been bad football with an average score of 38.5-13.2—a spread of over 25 points. It demonstrates clear separation between the top 2 seeds and everyone else. Only once has a semifinal been contested in the fourth quarter (2014 game #4 Ohio State beat #1 Alabama 42-35).
For 2017 If your team is a Playoff Contender this Year—Remember these facts:
1. You Do NOT want to be #3: The 3rd seed has never won a College Football playoff game.
2. You do NOT want to be #1: They’ve compiled a 2-3 record and have yet to win a National Title. The National Title winners have been #4 Ohio State(2014), #2 Alabama (2015) and #2 Clemson (2016).
3. Deuces are Wild: In winning 2 of the 3 National Titles, 2-seeds have compiled a stellar 5-1 playoff record.
4. The case for expanding the playoff falls with the 5 seeds:
2014--#8 Michigan State 42 #5 Baylor 41—Baylor fans complained that they, rather than Ohio State, deserved the #4 seed. Baylor lost to the 8th seed (blowing a 20-point lead) while Ohio State won the National Title. Case closed.
2015--#6 Stanford 45 #5 Iowa 16—The final score says it all.
2016--#9 USC 52 #5 Penn State 49—Fans of Big Ten Champs Penn State felt they belonged over Ohio State. That argument was weakened when they lost a 14 point lead in the final 12 minutes to the 9th seed and 3rd-place PAC 12 team.
The new playoff high fans have from the last two exciting title games has made us forget about the semifinals duds. Fixing our playoff high munchies with another round of bad game empty calories is not the answer.
A slick trial lawyer would argue that we do not need an 8-team playoff right now, AND that the four team playoff is already a little diluted. So pump the breaks, let college football grow into this still-new system. When 5-seeds start hammering lower-seeded teams then we can re-open the case.