The Daily Gamecock

Column: College football playoff needs to expand

<p>Empty seats before a game at Williams-Brice Stadium.&nbsp;</p>
Empty seats before a game at Williams-Brice Stadium. 

The College Football Playoff (CFP) management committee is set to consider an expansion to an eight-team, or even better, a 12-team playoff format on Dec. 1. The committee should vote to adopt the 12-team playoff, which would be a change that would benefit USC and many other programs competing in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football.  

The Gamecock football team has never appeared in a college football playoff. The expansion will increase South Carolina's chances of qualifying for its first-ever appearance and make the season more exciting. 

Talks for expansion gained traction in June when a four-member CFP working group including Swarbrick, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, sent in a proposal for a 12-team playoff. Group of Five Conferences are also in favor of this expansion because it would give them more opportunities to get into the playoff, something that has never happened before. 

The debate started when the “alliance," an agreement between the ACC, PAC 12 and BIG 10, later said it wanted an eight-team playoff instead of a 12-team. The alliance said it prefers the eight-team playoff because it would add value to conference championships and limit the maximum number of games played to 16 instead of 17.

The CFP management committee is made up of the 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick. 

In the current four-team format, a non-Power Five school's odds of making the playoff are slim, even if they go undefeated. In fact, with the current four-team playoff there is not much diversity. In its seven years of existence, only 11 of the 130 FBS teams have made the playoff. 

This has caused a dip in fan interest in recent years, according to Sports Media Watch. A 12-team expansion allows for a diverse playoff field and provides more potential for upsets and excitement, something that should interest any fan. 

The best part of college basketball is the March Madness tournament because there is always a chance at a crazy upset. Adding a 12-team field could bring this chaos to football, though on a smaller scale. 

A 12-team playoff and an eight-team playoff would both have six automatic bids — one for each Power Five champion and one for the Group of Five champion. The difference between the two playoffs is with 12-teams, there are six bids at large, in an eight-team, there are two. 

The only conference that may not want any change is the SEC. The conference has had at least one representative every year. However, less successful SEC programs would benefit from expansion. 

Considering the competitiveness of the SEC, South Carolina and many other schools in the SEC beat up on each other. This makes it difficult to crack the top-four, but the teams do have the ability to be ranked in the top-eight or top-12 with a couple of losses. 

12-teams would give the program here at South Carolina a better shot at the playoff than eight-teams. The team would not need to win the SEC or even make the title game to appear in the playoff. It could get one of those six at large bids and win a national champion as a 12 seed. 

The playoff must use the 12-team format, over the eight-team, to give Group of Five schools a chance. In the history of the CFP rankings, only one non-Power Five team has been ranked in the top-eight when Cincinnati made the cut last year.

What is the point in playing if you can go undefeated and still not be part of the playoff? A 12-team format makes it to where at least one Group of Five school gets in every year with an automatic bid and gives a realistic opportunity to have another school represented. 

Fans of college football are losing interest in the playoff with the current format. Members of the committee must put their differences aside and come up with a plan for a 12-team expansion now before they have to hold off the idea for years. 


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