Be careful what you ask for when it comes to a 12-team college football playoff.
Why? I list five reasons below.
1.) Expect Even More Playoff Blowouts
You think Georgia’s whipping of Michigan in last year’s semifinal was so bad you changed channels after the first quarter? Clemson’s 30-3 snoozer over Notre Dame in the 2018 semis, LSU 63-28 over Oklahoma in 2019? Wait until you have mismatches like that to start the playoffs. That’s why you’re going to get with 12 teams in it. Heck, since pretty much the start of the playoffs, there have really only been three deserving teams, let alone 12. And don’t expect any March Madness-type of Cinderellas – college football is too bruising a sport for an upstart to win more than one game in a playoff format.
2.) College Football Isn’t The NFL
In the NFL, a team can lose half its games – heck, sometimes not even have a .500 record – and still make the playoffs. A 12-team playoff rewards mediocrity.
3.) Expanded Playoffs Take Away A Lot Of The Regular-Season Drama
What does college football have that does not exist in any other sport? The most exciting regular season in the entire sports world. Why? There’s only four teams that make it to the playoffs. You can only lose once – and hope all other teams ranked around your school loses – to have a chance. Each week fans of top-ranked teams are glued to the TV (or TVs in sports bars) watching games from Noon until, well, Pac-12 teams play late at night. That will all change with a 12-team playoff. Teams will have a cushion to lose, even to a conference rival. Imagine Alabama losing the Iron Bowl in some strange way (again) at Auburn and shrugging it off knowing it will still be in the playoffs. That’s not college football. Or that WAS not college football.
4.) The Playoff Will Have Six Conference Champions Which May Not Be The Best 12 Teams
The Big 10 won this one. Knowing it lacks the depth of the SEC and has been shut out of the playoffs several times in the past, it lobbied hard since the expansion idea was first brought up for it to include conference champions. The Big 12 and Pac-12 sure like it too because otherwise they may not be included. Doing this, tho, means the 12 best teams are not likely to make the show. Win a weak league, play a crappy schedule and coast into the playoffs, as opposed to the SEC which has a stormy path to navigate.
5.) A 12-Team Playoff Is Like Giving Teams A Participation Trophy
Not every team deserves to be in the playoffs. Last year’s 12th-ranked team (Utah) had four losses. Pretty much every 8-12 will have three or four. Having a 12-team playoff is like giving out participation trophies. I even heard this preposterous comment from a supposed expert during an interview on a San Diego TV station: “give San Diego State a chance!” Ha. The Aztecs were not even competitive in losing to Arizona to open the season; imagine what would happen if they were to play Georgia. It would make the Oregon game looks like a nail-biter.
Coaches love it because making the playoffs provides them with job security. ADs and fans of those teams like it because it gives their teams a chance. But will they still feel that way after they get thumped by 40 or 50 by Alabama or Georgia? When this happens year after year, even the fans will be longing for the days of the Alamo and Music City bowls.