NCAA Should Expand Playoffs to Eight Teams This Year

Ohio State or Texas A&M? That seems to be the debate right now. The Buckeyes are viewed as the better team at the moment because they’re undefeated, but the argument has been made to include Texas A&M in the playoff instead.

While Texas A&M has traversed a full schedule, Ohio State has battled through just half of one. The Buckeyes, prior to the Big Ten Championship against a middling Northwestern squad, were just 5-0. Their wins were against Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Indiana and Michigan State. Only one of those teams was ranked – Indiana – and that was just a seven-point home victory in which Justin Fields struggled. Fields also struggled against Northwestern, barely beating an average Wildcats team. Conversely, Texas A&M finished 8-1, with the only loss coming against Alabama on the road. The Aggies, who endured the third-toughest schedule this year, beat Florida, a team far better than any opponent Ohio State battled. Who’s to say the Buckeyes could beat the Gators?

But don’t take my word for it. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney opined that Texas A&M belonged in the playoffs over Ohio State, citing the Buckeyes’ abbreviated schedule:

“It’s almost like you’ve got to have 120 hours to get a business degree and yet these people over here only need 60 hours to get a business degree,” Swinney said.

The criticism is certainly fair. The Buckeyes, while packed with incredible talents on their roster, haven’t really done anything to prove that they belong in the college football playoff. It could be argued that it’s not their fault that the Big Ten season started so late, but Ohio State could have defied its conference and scheduled games on its own.

Nevertheless, Ohio State will be in the college football playoff, while Texas A&M won’t be. If that sounds unfair, well, it certainly is. However, there is one way the NCAA can fix this dilemma. It’s a simple solution, really:

Install an eight-team college football playoff.

This is the perfect opportunity to expand the playoff. With some college football bowl games canceled, there will be more demand for games in late December and early January. The NCAA can fill this void by adding teams to the playoff.

This move is inevitable anyway, so why not do it now? The NCAA will finally have an excuse to make it happen. The four-team college football playoff already generates record ratings, so can you imagine how much more money the NCAA will make with eight teams in the playoff?

Generating tons more revenue is the primary reason to do this, but arguments like Ohio State versus Texas A&M can finally be avoided. Sure, there will be debates over the eighth versus ninth team, but the ninth-ranked team is far less likely to win the championship than the squad ranked No. 5.

Then again, maybe we can use that opportunity to expand the college football playoff to 16 teams! Maybe that’s the ultimate goal, but I’d settle for eight teams for now.

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