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Opinion: Expanding College Football Playoff Only Delays Inevitable

When it comes to College Football Playoff expansion, there will always be somebody who feels left out.

As the College Football Playoff national championship game quickly approaches, talk surrounding expansion of the current four-team playoff format has generated buzz on multiple fronts. 

Before we dive into this topic, lets make one thing clear: expansion is going to happen. Much like Thanos in the Marvel universe, it's inevitable. 

Why CFP Expansion Will Happen

There's simply too much money to be made by adding more games. Potential deals with television rights will shoot to the moon, as well as advertisements from interested companies and other various factors create large enough dollar signs that no conference commissioner, athletics director, host city or anyone else can say no. 

Expansion from a four-team playoff almost certainly brings automatic qualifying bids for each of the Power Five conferences (with even potential for a non P5 school to squeeze in with a six-team playoff), a deal that would satisfy each conference with representation and therefore the coveted CFP revenue and exposure that comes with it. 

Financially, it makes sense for all the parties that will profit from expansion. 

However, from a pure sporting perspective, expansion will only delay the inevitable. 

Consistency Gets Dull

Gone are the days of computers in the BCS determining our national champions. Since its inception in 2014, a true playoff has been generated to crown the champion of college football in a proper way with teams duking it out against each other on the field. 

We've heard it time and time again, and that story line continues into 2022: Fans complaining about the same few teams vying for a national title every season. 

To be fair, that's a legitimate argument. The Alabama Crimson Tide will be competing for their fourth national championship since the College Football Playoffs were implemented, missing the playoff only once (2019 season). 

Four teams (Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State) have multiple appearances in the national title game. When the ball is kicked off Monday night, the combination of Alabama-Georgia-Clemson will have made a collective 12 of 16 overall appearances in the national championship. 

For the majority of football fans across the country, a change of scenery at the top is much needed. 

That's perhaps the largest argument fans will make, as more intriguing matchups will develop and lesser teams will finally get their shot at making the big stage in a chance to play the underdog role in a David vs. Goliath meeting. 

More interesting matchups equates to more (at least in theory) competitive games. Two teams that could have made an expanded CFP field this season, Ohio State and Utah, put on the best game of the season in a Rose Bowl meeting that fell out of the playoff rotation. 

However, neither Utah or Ohio State would have ultimately emerged as champions when the confetti fell at the end of the national championship game. 

Expansion is wanted for the sake of variety, yet the same end result will overwhelmingly be yielded. 

Alabama's Dominance is not the CFP's Problem

Just ask Michigan State (2016), Washington (2017), Notre Dame (2019) or Oklahoma (2020). All four programs (superb football powerhouses) were seen as underdogs heading into their semifinal matchups and were thoroughly dismantled upon arrival. 

That's not a College Football Playoff problem; that's a problem the rest of the country has tried to figure out for what's going on nearly two decades in attempting to dismantle Nick Saban's cast at Alabama. 

It's not up to the CFP to dethrone teams like the Crimson Tide. 

That leads to the main point that many who oppose the idea of expansion plant their flag on: We already have enough trouble finding four good teams to fit into a playoff, expanding the field will only dilute the bottom half of the bracket and further expand the gap between top-tier programs and the rest of the field. 

Take Cincinnati and Michigan this season, who indeed earned their spots into the College Football Playoffs after incredible campaigns. 

Did we really expect either of the two aforementioned schools to win their respective matchups? No we didn't. 

Power Five champions that were left out of the fun (Utah, Pitt and Baylor) wouldn't have had any more luck when the chips fell. Notre Dame and Ohio State would have faced similar fates, too.

No matter how differently you construct the puzzle, the final two pieces will largely be the same. Adding more pieces simply won't change the end result. 

Additional Counterpoints to Expansion

There's also an argument to be made that expanding the College Football Playoffs would lessen the importance of the regular season. 

That point could be argued for either side. On one hand, your record (in a theoretical expansion where conference champions earn a spot) would still need to be good enough to make and win your respective conference.

On the other hand, teams may be more inclined to stop scheduling strong opponents outside of conference play. 

That was supposedly a benefit of creating the playoff, as a committee of varying people would discuss everything (including strength of schedule) rather than simply punching a ticket just because you won your conference. 

One interesting proposal that's floated around is somehow using lower-level bowl games to act as pre-qualifiers for the CFP. 

This would still uphold the competitive prestige of the semifinals while also giving meaning to early bowl games, although the ramifications that would have on regular-season games, potentially redefining bowl eligibility for teams and reworking the entire bowl season schedule are all enough to make the NCAA look away. 

Change is Inevitable; So are top Programs 

Truth be told: There's no right or wrong answer to how the College Football Playoffs should look a decade from now. The entire landscape of college football continues to change, and the CFP will likely adapt with the sport. 

Will I be watching the expanded playoffs? Absolutely. I'm a sucker for big-time games in any sport, let alone one filled with passion such as college football. That's where the CFP ultimately wins, and I am one of millions of reasons why expansion is imminent: As a football fan, I'm going to watch the product regardless. 

However, unless teams are able to magically find the elixir to stopping the elite programs from dominating on a consistent level year in and year out, the end result will not change, rather we're just delaying the inevitable of a top program once again holding a trophy at season's end. 

But, that's just my two cents. The College Football Playoffs and all of its beneficiaries are about to make a whole lot more than that anyway.