College Football Playoff and the folly of a Cinderella myth

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At 14 teams or 16 teams and even at the current format of 12 teams, the CFB Playoff has a major flaw. That flaw is the idea that more access for teams and a Group of Five (or Six) automatic bid will give more teams a chance to win a National Championship.

Instead of making a more competitive CFB Playoff field, the opposite can result. While playing a game against a lower-ranked opponent, a real championship contender could lose one or more key players to injuries. Moving forward, after dispensing with a lesser foe, that contender's championship chance might be derailed by injuries that take key players out of subsequent games.

Recently, Paul Finebaum made a similar claim about lower seeds in an expanded Playoff format. Fienbaum admitted upsets happen in college football. But he pointed out they are most often the result of a regular season game when a Power Five team doesn't take a lesser team seriously. One 2023 season example was the New Mexico State upset of Auburn.

Finebaum predicts that such upsets will not occur in a CFB Playoff game when the higher-ranked team is fully prepared and focused. Instead, there will be Playoff games that Finebaum described as not being "fun" to watch.

Elaborating on his perspective of such games, Paul Finebaum said,

"I’m just sick and tired of it. I don’t want to watch those games – I want to see the best.

I know the media loves the underdog but there just aren’t very many underdog stories. That’s for Hollywood. Let’s leave college football to the best trying to play the best."

Paul Finebaum

If the college football world demands a chance for a CFB Playoff Cinderella story, there is a better way. Much the same as NCAA Tournament play-in games, have the four lowest-ranked teams (in a 14-team field) play in an opening round. The two winners could advance to a second round with 10 other teams. The top two seeds would receive second-round byes. The chances of non-competitive games in the quarter-finals and beyond would be small.