Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Mess with New College Football Playoff Format

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Don't Mess with New College Football Playoff Format

Article excerpt

OK, let me start with this: The first College Football Playoff has been fantastic.

From the weekly, and certainly hokey, rankings release .... to the inclusion of white-hot Ohio State ... to Jameis Winston's slip- and-slide .. to the fun-loving Buckeyes' rally against the joyless folk at Alabama, LLC.

Another watershed moment came Tuesday, shortly after Ohio State coach Urban Meyer urged reporters in Columbus to "stir it up" regarding the inability of players' families to afford the cost of back-to-back trips.

Ten minutes later, according to Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel, an Ohio State spokesman interrupted Meyer to announce that playoff officials would be permitted to reimburse each family up to $2,500 ($1,250 per parent/guardian) for travel, hotel and meals.

The NCAA waiver also will cover players in the 2015 men's and women's Final Four.

"That makes my day," Meyer said.

So the playoff is all good, right?

Well, mostly.

I had been that rare guy, swimming against a riptide, who wrote against the need for a playoff.

Headlines from two of my Tribune columns:

Dec. 10, 2010: However you crunch numbers, playoff would fail

Dec. 29, 2008: Exposing myths of playoff payoff

My rationale: Expanding to four would make it even harder to select teams; some late-season games (think Ohio State-Michigan in 2006 and Auburn-Alabama in 2013) would lose meaning because both teams still would make the playoff; the postseason would become more like the NFL with fly-in, fly-out games involving unpaid, weary college players; and saying yes to four teams would open the floodgates for eight - and 16.

That final point at least is indisputable.

We're one highly successful edition into a 12-year TV playoff deal, and already an eight-team playoff is viewed in some circles as inevitable.

Why the push?

Fans are citing three reasons: More football is inherently a good thing; the conference champion from each of the Power 5 should be guaranteed a spot; TCU and Baylor were just as worthy as the four teams that made it.

As my buddy David Kaplan of CSN tweeted: "Eight - decreases (the) chance for (a) big mistake."

There's some validity to all those statements. …

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