This year the system worked. The four teams selected for the NCAA football playoffs (Bowl Subdivision) were the four that belonged there. Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Michigan State demonstrated over the course of the season that they were best suited to compete for the national championship.
The semifinals will be played on New Year’s Eve with Alabama facing Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl and Clemson taking on Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl (no corporate titles here).
The national championship game is set for January 11.
That’s just fine with us. A four-team bracket is sufficient to determine a national champion.
Having just four teams in the playoff ensures that the teams that qualify are truly deserving. The length of the season is also an issue. Remember, the four qualifiers have already gone through spring practice, started preseason workouts in August, and played a 13-game season. The national finalists will end up playing 15 games and that’s enough.
Some playoff enthusiasts would like to see a bracket of eight teams or even 16. But in our view that would reward teams who may have had excellent seasons but aren’t truly national championship contenders. The lure of additional television dollars may lead to the bracket being expanded at some point. But for now, and likely for the foreseeable future, our view is ‘Four is Plenty.’
Rick Woelfel has worked in sports journalism for more than three decades. He is based in Willow Grove, PA near Philadelphia.