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Four-team playoff is good, eight-team playoff is better

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College football instituted its playoff system for the first time this season, and it went rather well. Sam Barbee says why an eight-team playoff would be even better.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is doused with Gatorade after his Buckeyes won the first-ever College Football playoff Monday over Oregon.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is doused with Gatorade after his Buckeyes won the first-ever College Football playoff Monday over Oregon.
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Inevitably, the College Football Playoff didn't please everyone. It never would. It never could. And, maybe, never will.

As long as its just four teams arbitrarily selected by a group of people not even in the same room, there will be questions about which team is truly best.

For what we have, and where we have come, the playoff is a much better decider of the football national champion. No longer does it rest of the shoulders of writer-voters who only watch games that matter to them. No longer does it rest on the shoulders of computers, who don't (and can't) watch games to know what a team looks and plays like.

At least, for those reasons, a four-team playoff is a step in the right direction.

But that's exactly what it is. A mere step.

Hours after Oregon was dismantled by Ohio State, we are left to wonder about TCU, who had as a good a claim as any of the four teams which were selected. We wonder about Baylor, who beat that TCU team. We wonder if the SEC had gotten two teams in if the inevitability of an SEC team in the championship game was a real thing.

We are left to wonder about those things because we'll never know, because the playoff format is too exclusive.

It's called a playoff, and the format lends itself to that distinction, but it's not really a playoff in the traditional sense.

I mean, it's just four teams. How on earth can be okay with that? What if basketball was that way? Or football? Hell, even baseball?

That's why the eight-team playoff has to come. And I'll venture to guess it'll come sooner rather than later.

It won't be hard to do. There's already a huge break between the end of the regular season and the committee already ranks teams to 25, so we aren't doing anything drastic by doubling the size of the playoff. We can set it up so it acts just like this year's system, where the semi-finals happy on New Year's Day and the finals a week and a half later.

This isn't rocket science, and we aren't reinventing wheel here.

Now, I can understand why jumping to an eight-team bracket right away could be a slippery slope deal. We go to eight, then we go to 16, then 32, then it's out of control. And I understand that, even with eight teams, there will be teams who are disappointed and frustrated and confused as to why this team or that team was selected rather than them, who, in their minds, are more deserving. This is something we can never get around. It happens in college basketball every year, even with a massive 68-team field.

So I'll say this: we need an eight-team bracket. Think of the story lines: the eight seed rides upsets and faces the five seed who got hot and won the second round game on a Hail Mary. The mid-December bowls now have the added influx of playoff football to add to an already packed slate of (mediocre) football. It would be great. And I'm sure would make a ton of money, too. And who doesn't want that?

I like that we have a playoff. It's not perfect, but it never will be. It can be better. It should be better. Have faith, it will be better.Give