Like it has been each year since the switch to the current format, picking the four “best” teams for the college football playoffs has generated controversy. Although the Southeastern Conference wasn’t part of that “who’s in, who’s out” debate this year there was plenty of controversy regarding who deserved to go or didn’t deserve to go from the Big 10 and elsewhere.
There are other teams outside the top four that were chosen for the playoffs that might be just as good, if not better, than some of the teams that were selected. Even Auburn’s bowl opponent, Oklahoma, could make a case for belonging by going unbeaten in the Big 12 Conference and winning its final nine games.
Nothing that happened this year made me change my belief that the playoff needs to be expanded from four to eight teams. If it was done that way this year the committee could have added Penn State, Michigan, Oklahoma and an undefeated Western Michigan team.
I know some people will question what I wrote about Western Michigan, but I strongly believe if you are one of the 128 teams that are competing in Division I football you should have a path to compete for the national championship. If you have a great season, regardless of whether you are in a power conference or not, those players and coaches deserve a shot at the big prize.
It would be exciting to me and a lot of other college football fans, and even some casual ones, to see how a high-achieving underdog team like Western Michigan could do in this type of setting. I?remember when people said that Boise State didn’t deserve to play in major bowls, but the Broncos certainly showed that they belonged when they stepped up and performed well on the big stage.
Allowing a team like Western Michigan to have a chance to compete for the national title would generate a huge amount of interest, just like it does when an underdog team makes a strong run in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
With an eight-team format the top four seeds could play at home and then the bowls could be the host for the semi-finals and finals. As someone who loves college football that would be truly exciting for me to watch. Four teams is not enough and 16 is too many. Eight is the right number.
Eight is also the number of wins the Auburn Tigers will take to New Orleans for their Sugar Bowl game vs. the Sooners. If you had predicted in July that this Auburn team would be playing Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl you might have run into more than a couple of skeptics.
While the season didn’t go as well as it could have for the Tigers, the invitation to the SEC’s most prestigious bowl trip (outside the playoff) puts a little salve on the disappointments the Tigers had during the regular season. A win in New Orleans would do even more for the Tigers.
I realize that Oklahoma is a very difficult opponent, but I see this as a great opportunity for Auburn to take a big step forward heading into the 2017 season, just like the Tigers did a year earlier in their bowl game victory. If this Auburn team is as healthy as it needs to be the odds of that happening will be improved.
It is an exciting thing for the players and coaches to get a chance to play in the Sugar Bowl. I know I?have great memories of taking three Auburn teams there to play in games during the 1983 season vs. Michigan, in the 1987 season vs. Syracuse and the next year vs. Florida State. We were 1-1-1 on those three trips. It would have been nice to have won them all, but each trip produced great memories and I hope the Auburn players, coaches and fans will have a memorable trips to New Orleans this year.Click Here for Sugar Bowl Tickets, Hotel Packages