The lights glistened off the freshly painted crimson helmets as Alabama looked to retain its national title against the undefeated challengers from Clemson. The matchup that took place Monday was without a doubt "the correct" pairing as both teams haven't slipped up on their path to the title game.
Despite these teams unanimously being endorsed by public opinion as the top two teams, the run up to the title game was surrounded by controversy. Heads were scratched after Clemson thumped the 12-0 Irish 30-3 in Dallas. The playoff committee was looking even more foolish after Oklahoma found itself looking for answers after being down four scores early in the second quarter. Questions were raised to how could a semifinal game look like an FBS school playing an FCS school? Perhaps that's an exaggeration, but what's certain is this system needs fixing.
In a perfect world, an eight-team playoff seems to be the most logical. And it shouldn't be just the top eight ranked teams in the country. It's time that conference championships have more meaning. The winner of each power five conference (PAC-12, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Big Ten) should have an automatic spot leaving three open spots. These spots could belong to your potential undefeated non-power five conference schools like say a UCF this year, Notre Dame, or the best of the best one-loss schools like Alabama last year who proved they belong. The seeding of the teams would be based on strength of schedule and what the committee sees fit. Under this format hypothetically, the teams would have been Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Washington, UCF, Notre Dame and you put in the eighth team.
The positive thing about this format is if you win your conference, you're in! So fans won't have to bite their nails on selection day to see if their team scraped in based on other results around the country. It makes no sense that a one-loss conference champion Ohio State doesn't get the same crack at the title as another one-loss and conference champion Oklahoma got. This format would remove the idea of regional bias among fans north of the Mason-Dixon line who believe conferences like the SEC have the upper hand. With more teams in the playoff, perhaps top players who have sat out early to prepare for the NFL draft would be motivated to bring home silverware for their future alma mater.
The downside with this process is how will it affect the players? Well, if a team plays a full season along with a conference championship plus the eight-team playoff process, it would be a total of 16 games, equalling an NFL regular season. That's a lot of games for student-athletes who have to manage their academics. An extra game would affect their preparations for their final exams of the semester. This is something the committee will have to evaluate going forward.
So where does the committee go from here you ask? Well most likely nowhere, but the 11-man committee met Monday in Santa Clara for a regular scheduled meeting which may have included some brainstorming of new ideas. The reason why us as fans shouldn't expect a new solution soon is due to the games known as contract bowls. For example, the Sugar Bowl has a contract with the SEC and Big 12 to feature teams from each conference, and until these contacts expire, we won't have a set in stone answer most likely. So bowl games like the Rose and Sugar Bowls wouldn't be available for the playoffs, and the college football world wants to see top tier teams play in these games filled with rich history.
It's about time that the committee takes into consideration the eight-team playoff, in order to truly make college football great again.