Is Expanding the College Football Playoff a No-Brainer?

Is Expanding the College Football Playoff a No-Brainer?

Talk of the Tide: Does Alabama's Path to a National Championship Get Easier With a 12-Team Playoff?

The College Football Playoff will soon expand but does that mean the road gets tougher for the Crimson Tide?
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The inevitable has come in the world of college football. 

A proposal to expand the College Football Playoff from four teams to 12 is on the table and seems likely it will pass in the coming months, although the earliest it could come into effect would be 2023. 

The 12 teams would be made up of the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six highest-ranked other teams determined by the committee.

Let's be honest here. 

The CFP semifinals up to this point with four teams have been blowout after blowout. Only three of the 14 games, dating back to its inception in 2015, have been within two touchdowns. 

Three.

That begs the question as to why teams seeded 5-12 even stand a chance in an expanded playoff but that's another conversation for another day. Do multiple 2- or 3-loss teams deserve a chance at a national title?

Probably not, but expansion also makes me wonder if the road to a national championship for national powers like Alabama, Clemson, or Ohio State gets easier. 

For starters, teams 1-4, who are the highest-ranked conference champions, receive byes into the quarterfinals, while team 5 plays team 12, team 6 plays team 11, team 7 plays team 10 and team 8 plays team 9 on the higher-seeded team's campus.

The quarterfinals, semifinals and final would all be played at neutral sites. 

Let's take a look at what the Crimson Tide's path to the national title game would have been in recent years:

2020 (No. 1 seed): Bye, Winner of No. 8 Texas A&M/No. 9 Florida, then one of three teams between No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Cincinnati or No. 12 Indiana.

2019: Would have been No. 13 so first team out.

2018 (No. 1 seed): Bye, Winner of No. 8 Georgia/No. 9 Michigan, then one of three teams between No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 UCF or No. 12 Penn State.

2017 (No. 7 seed): No. 10 Penn State, No. 2 Oklahoma, then one of three teams between No. 3 Georgia, No. 6 UCF or No. 11 Miami (FL).

2016 (No. 1 seed): Bye, Winner of No. 8 Michigan/No. 9 USC, then one of three teams between No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Western Michigan or No. 12 Colorado. 

2015 (No. 2 seed): Bye, Winner of No. 7 Iowa/No. 10 Florida State, then one of three teams between No. 3 Michigan State, No. 6 Houston or No. 11 North Carolina.

2014 (No. 1 seed): Bye, Winner of No. 8 Mississippi State/No. 9 Michigan State, then one of three teams between No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Baylor or No. 12 Kansas State

*bold indicates seasons Alabama won College Football Playoff National Championship

From the looks of it, where the difficulty comes in is just the fact that there's added games and the Crimson Tide would have to avoid major injuries if it weren't a top-4 seed that earns a first-round bye.

There's debate every year on on who should be No. 4 or No. 5, then that fourth-seeded team gets shellacked more times than not as a 4-seed has only beaten a 1-seed twice in the CFP's seven-year history (Ohio State over Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl and Alabama over Clemson in the 2018 Sugar Bowl).

So do we really think upsets would be more persistent if more teams were allowed?

That could certainly be the case for teams outside of the top three of four and in the middle of the rankings but probability and statistics would say otherwise for the teams at the top. 

Think about this: The Crimson Tide is 5-1 overall in semifinal games in the current format of the event and owns a 20.2 average margin of victory in those contests. That includes wins over a No. 1 seed, a No. 3 seed and three No. 4 seeds across six seasons.

All in all, the path to the final game for the top-tier teams would be easier but until someone knocks off Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney consistently, there's no signs of stopping the Alabama-Clemson matchups for years to come, with the occasional Ohio State and Oklahoma sprinkled in there every other year.

Expansion is a gold mine for the fans and the TV networks will rake in millions of dollars, but it won't be good for parity across the sport.

The inevitable has come in the world of college football. 

A proposal to expand the College Football Playoff from four teams to 12 is on the table and seems likely it will pass in the coming months, although the earliest it could come into effect would be 2023. 

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