Wednesday, November 30, 2022

COLUMN: Should College Football Have Its Own ‘March Madness’?

By Trevor Terminie / Journalism Student

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is a spectacle that all sports fans, not just basketball fans, enjoy. Failing to make great brackets and having them busted by unlikely upsets brings us together each March to celebrate a great college sport. As we reach the Sweet Sixteen of the 2021 edition, a question came to mind.

What if this kind of spectacle can make its way into the college football realm?

The College Football Playoff was adopted in 2014 to diversify champions by having a committee, not computers, decide four teams, not two, to compete for a national championship. In 2014, this new idea was well received and celebrated. Now, questions about expanding from four teams have expectedly overwhelmed the process.

The same pool of teams seems to be vying for the championship every year (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and a seasonal outlier). Where is the spectacle in this?

During March Madness (especially this year) the amount and diversity of the participants allows for unknown teams to shine, potentially upsetting the perennial powers.

Honestly, who actually knew who Oral Roberts was before the 2021 tournament?

This aspect of college basketball is what makes the tournament so unpredictable. Is there any way to transfer this kind of spectacle to college football?

The answer is easier than it sounds: look to the FCS Championship.

The Football Championship Subdivision of Division I College Football uses a 24-team bracket to determine its champion. This allows for a greater majority of teams to attempt to win a championship.

This was the exact reason for the creation of the College Football Playoff, but it is not working this way.

And sure, some could argue that the same team (i.e., North Dakota State) seems to win the FCS Championship every year, even with a tournament-style championship. And, moreover, what is stopping the same pool of teams to eventually reach the championship in an expanded College Football Playoff?

This could very well be the result of the proposed CFP bracket, but the result is not nearly as important as the journey.

The chances that Oral Roberts wins the National Championship, not to offend any potential Oral Roberts fans reading this, are slim to none. But just the fact that this 15-seed that not many have heard of even made it to the Sweet Sixteen is special and eye-catching, regardless of whether they win it all or not.

This is the reason the College Football Playoff needs to at least try to expand. This allows for deserving Group of Five teams to be given the chance to compete with the “big dogs.” Moreover, the ritual that is major college football will have a more interesting, watchable, and unpredictable finish. 

So, as the Sweet 16 and the remainder of March Madness continue, picture how great the end of the college football season would be with its own “January Madness.”

Who wouldn’t want two collegiate tournaments in three months? And, how cool would it be to make a bracket for college football? 

NCAA. College Football Playoff. It is time to expand the playoff.