VAN WADE — Waiting to see how 12-team NCAA playoff pans out

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022

It was a big weekend of college football last weekend, and no game was bigger than the Texas-Alabama clash. My Longhorns gave the Tide a battle to the end but just couldn’t quite cash in.

Speaking of cash, the NCAA could hit an even better jackpot in the next few years.

The College Football Playoff Board of Managers unanimously voted last month to expand the Playoff to 12 teams beginning in 2026.

The revised format will feature the six highest-ranked Football Bowl Subdivision conference champions and six at-large teams, with the four highest-ranked conference champions receiving a bye in the first round.

So much money is going to be poured into this idea, but money is already flowing, especially for those highly touted programs.

Is it time for the NCAA to have a 12-team playoff field?

Most of us probably have heard complaints of how the same four teams are always in it.

That line of thinking is understandable but not entirely true. Seven different schools appeared in the Playoff since 2020, including a mid-major school in the University of Cincinnati last year.

I can totally see why people are disenchanted with the existing Playoff. It receives a crazy amount of attention from national media throughout the college football season, only to deliver a handful of uncompetitive blowouts in January.

So, why exactly do the powers that be think making the Playoff three times as big is going to fix anything?

Look, I absolutely do not have the brain power to form a strong opinion on the expanded playoff. I spend literal hours on a sofa each Saturday watching men throw a ball around and give each other concussions while I shovel pizza, nachos, links or a whole bag of Doritos in my mouth.

So you can’t really expect me to form a great argument for or against the possible new postseason structure in which that kind of carnage unfolds?

I just find the idea that an expanded playoff will somehow bring parity to college football sort of funny. That’s what this issue is all about, after all. People are tired of seeing schools like Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson constantly dominating the sport.

An expanded postseason tournament would definitely give teams seeded five through 12 a chance at taking down one of the big dogs. Maybe that would eventually happen, but we will see a whole lot of crushing blowouts first. Is that really what we want?

Talent, money and resources are all so tightly wound among the upper echelon football powers that only a handful of teams even have a chance at winning a championship each year.

Even within that special handful, there tends to be a pretty large lack of parity — the last four national championship games were decided by an average of 22 points. I simply don’t see a bigger playoff changing that.

I would argue the beauty of college football lies in the regular season, the rivalries and regional matchups that unfold from September through November.

What happens beyond that is largely icing on the cake or for that pizza I like to shovel in.

Van Wade is the Orange Leader sports editor. He can be reached at van.wade@orangeleader.com.