Tim Crone: This year makes it obvious college playoff needs expansion

The Examiner
Tim Crone

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families. Even in tough times we all have a lot to be thankful for. Hopefully, this holiday season will renew an appreciation for all our blessings.

The NCAA football season was able to complete 87% of the games on the 2020 schedule. That in itself is a miracle.

The talk is once again of the playoff format and the usual teams to end up in the championship. The conference championships were played last weekend with those results a determining factor of which teams made the cut. The only teams that are really considered by the NCAA committee are from the Power Five conferences.

I understand and agree that the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 are going to be in the thing every year, which means all the other Division I NCAA schools have no chance. That makes the current playoff setup a joke.

Most college football fans are tired of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State in the playoff every year, which is unfortunate because they are the best programs in the country, hands down. Occasionally, like last year with LSU, a different team will sneak in with a once in a decade national championship victory, and Notre Dame gets into the playoffs a couple times every five years.

However, most of the time with the current setup it is a combination of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State with one opening for the rest of the Division I teams.

The present format has become an invitational system while the rest of the NCAA sports playoff systems offer a tournament format of play to determine a win in their respective national championships. All other levels of the NCAA football divisions also have a multiple team playoff system.

I seem to rail about this topic every year, but the present system seems to be less exciting and competitive every year.

Conference champions should be a main criterion for a playoff berth, but there are only four available spots. There are at least five power conferences with conference championship games. Does that make any sense at all?

Why not have an eight-team bracket and have the champions from the five power conferences receive automatic bids to the playoffs and have three teams that are at-large fill out the eight-team bracket?

This would allow more teams to play for the championship and would provide a lot more excitement for Division I football. It would add an extra week to the season but would put to rest most of the annual discussion of which teams should be a part of the playoff picture.

Some discussion would remain about the top eight, but it would allow for a much better representation of teams in the tournament. It is a surprise that the NCAA has taken such a closed-minded stance. In an eight-team format everyone seems to win.

The fans would have more of a chance for their favorite team to be a part of the process and it broadens the possibility for coaches and players to be able to participate. Media and the schools would both make more money. The NCAA would increase their cash windfall.

The main reason for everyone who loves the game of college football is that the winner would be crowned by playing games on the field instead if letting shirt and tie administrators decide who has that opportunity. The NCAA would lose a little revenue made with the old bowl system, but some of those bowls could be incorporated into the new playoff format.

The NCAA is archaic in most everything they attempt to do. It is time to realize that the present system hurts college football. Change is hard but a change would be a no-brainer.

It would be great to one day see a team like Cincinnati get an at-large bid and upset Alabama or Clemson in the playoffs. It happens all the time in the NFL and we all love it.

• The quote of the week comes from Benjamin Disraeli, former prime minister of England: “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.