Expanding the College Football Playoff does nothing but award participation trophies

Expanding the College Football Playoff does nothing but award participation trophies

We are a little less than a month away from crowning the 2019 college football champion and as every year this time of year, the buzz is about expansion of the College Football Playoff.

This year the buzz is about as hot as you can get with a recent piece on the Athletic discussing as much with a ton of backing from several within the college football community.

Because the Athletic is a pay site and a good one I might add, I will only post a few quotes from the article; you will need a subscription to read it in its entirety.

But some of the quotes within the article go like this:

 Said Alvarez: “UCF should have that opportunity.”

Expansion - “It’s an appropriate thing to begin thinking about,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Athletic this week.

“Twelve years is a good run if everything was working well,” West Virginia president Gordon Gee told The Athletic. “But it’s always good to take a look at it. We now have five years’ worth of experience. There’s nothing wrong with hitting the button and saying, let’s take a look at what’s working and what’s not working, and we don’t need to wait for another six years to make sure that we live out a contract.”

Now I will be the first to say, I never ever thought a four-team playoff, with five major conferences and Notre Dame made sense. You are fitting a square peg in a round hole with that methodology, and it just creates controversy, which may be the end game after all.

So, I get expansion – to a degree; but let’s be honest with ourselves here – if we follow the numbers, and trends and logic – expansion is nothing more than a glorified participation trophy for all if not done right.

Lets take the emotion out of it, as we always do here and be honest with ourselves, there is no Cinderella in college football; almost never has been, probably never will be. College football is a different animal than basketball or baseball, where a team can sneak in the tournament, via a conference championship and run the table to the finals.

College football is the one sport where talent rains supreme.

You can revisit our article here, on why that talent matters and why it always has.

Since 1998, the average talent metric on a four-year scale of the two participants in the National Championship live in the top ten in recruiting and the few years someone played for it outside those numbers, they lived in the top 20 with a game changing quarterback.

There are no Gonzaga’s, College of Charleston’s or Butlers in college football and for as much as people want to rally around what Central Florida has done, they don’t have a shot in hell at winning a playoff, much less an expanded playoff.

Just this year, the final four proved again what we said earlier, and that is recruiting and offense and defensive scoring efficiency is your college football playoff stock market watch.

You need to be inside the top ten in at least one, and typically if you’re in both on the efficiency side, you have the best shot at the National Championship.

Central Florida is 8th in the country on offensive scoring efficiency, but 54th in the country on defensive scoring efficiency; and they have the 66th best roster talent on our three year metric – simply put, they are fairy tale dust in reality.

Only Clemson, Georgia and Alabama cross all the eyes and dot the ole T’s this year and one didn’t even make it.

Let’s assume we use the idea of doing away with conference championships, which we wont, here is how they would have set the playoff up this year.

Okay that looks great right! Lots of variety, lot’s of teams and it’s spread throughout the country.

But, if we go back to our talent index and let’s just take those two levels we use on talent alone, here is where these teams ranked coming into the year.


You see as we always do, we tier talent in three layers and the third isn’t listed because they aren’t getting into the party - unless they recruit better.

Based on that bracket, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Clemson all fit the profile - but one team doesn’t - Central Florida.

Washington is the one team in the second tier and they are approaching tier one.

I am all for expansion of the playoff, if done right, but right now you could expand the field to 64 teams and guess what - the same teams will win it. That’s the nature of this game. You can cry, whine and shout about being fair, but in the end, Alabama and Clemson would still play for the title in 2019 and Ohio State, Georgia, Oklahoma would still be where they are today because this game is about talent - not participation trophies.

This outcry isn’t about expansion - it’s about SEC and Southeast region football dominance. Recruit better, coach better, play better and until then, deal with it.

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Comparing HG Rankings with the CFB Playoff Rankings three weeks into the process

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