Whenever someone brings up the College Football Playoff these days, all people seem to talk about is who got snubbed and if the committee should consider expanding. The actual quality of the product is seldom in question because some fans want football season to last forever, but there’s something everyone should realize about the CFP: It’s not very good.
Despite having the Alabama Crimson Tide face the Clemson Tigers for the fourth-straight season in the CFP, and ticket prices plummeting because a group of individuals thought it would be a grand idea to have the game in San Francisco, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this year’s national championship game. The two best teams are playing against each other on the biggest stage of the season, and it has the potential to be an instant classic.
The biggest problem is that greed is taking precedent over the actual product itself. The television ratings and monies earned have suddenly become the most important thing, for better or for worse. Did we really need to see Clemson destroy the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or watch Alabama coast in the second half to hold off the Oklahoma Sooners? No, and that’s the point here.
Unlike college basketball’s Final Four, the pinnacle event to the annual 68-team bracket madness, the College Football Playoff has proven to be nothing other than a giant waste of time. The old BCS system certainly had its flaws, but it was by no means as dull as this or trying to squeeze a couple of extra games in for some more cash.
People knew this college football season was headed toward Alabama-Clemson Part IV back in August. Nobody needed the entire regular season, conference championships and CFP semifinals to convince them both programs belong in the national title game.
The computer system would have been just fine figuring that out.
The current CFP format is probably suited for a younger generation. It brings a certain level of excitement. However, here is a comparison of how the Final Four and College Football Playoff — the two biggest college sporting events — stack up against each other:
Both the Final Four and College Football Playoff feature four teams. Both hold their title games on a Monday night. Both officially crown a national champion. For all intents and purposes, this could be a push. The biggest difference here, though? The Final Four perfected its product a long time ago, while the College Football Playoff merely tried to mimic it and has sometimes fallen flat on its face.
Advantage: Final Four (1-0)
This has nothing to do with the time of year. The first weekend in January versus the first weekend in April is an impossible argument. But do you know what’s easy to decide from? Having the semifinals be the second-to-last games of the season.
College football has several proud traditions. Having elite bowl games on New Year’s Day is certainly one of them. And while everyone understands the CFP needs to play the weekend before to give players time to recover and prepare for the title game, it just makes no sense why there needs to be 11 bowl games between the semifinals and finals. The CFP definitely loses some luster here.
Advantage: Final Four (2-0)
When was the last time you heard a complaint about Team X not having a chance to play in the Final Four? Never. When was the last time you heard a complaint about Team Y not having a chance to play in the College Football Playoff? Looking at you, UCF fans.
For as exhausting and long as it might be, March Madness is a beautiful thing. It actually takes less time from bracket announcement to title game than the full bowl season, too. Granted, basketball is a much different sport than football, but there’s something to be said about packing the biggest punch in the shortest amount of time. The CFP fails to do that in more ways than one.
Advantage: Final Four (3-0)
The Final Verdict
Yes, part of what makes the NCAA Tournament fun is the expanded field and the chaos that ensues. No, football does not have that luxury and expanding to eight teams might not even be enough. But the excitement of the older Final Four still heavily outweighs the fresh, new College Football Playoff, no matter what the television ratings might say.
Everybody fills out a men’s basketball bracket and talks about their Final Four teams at work. The College Football Playoff has even some of the biggest football fans wishing it didn’t exist.
Winner: Final Four (4-0)