By Ray Hamill
We’re barely halfway through October and it’s already glaringly obvious – a four-team playoff tournament in college football needs to be expanded.
As it stands right now, the selection committee will have its hands full, opinions swayed and minds taxed to the limit trying to narrow it down to just four for January, with numerous teams still in the mix and making a case for inclusion.
Particularly in the SEC, the most dominant conference in football.
With four teams in the top-seven and five in the top-10 – including arguably the two best teams in the country – who can argue the SEC might not deserve (at least) two teams in the final four?
And who’s to say that a two- or three-loss SEC team – especially a team from the West – isn’t better than a one-loss Pac-12 squad or any Big Ten or Big 12 squad?
Then there’s Notre Dame. If the Irish can knock off Florida State Saturday night and somehow win out, can anyone deny them a spot?
And that doesn’t even include the Big 12 or Big Ten.
Whichever of Baylor, TCU or Oklahoma (or Oklahoma State) wins the Big 12 will surely be deserving of one of the coveted four spots, and if (read when) Michigan State wins the Big Ten, the Spartans will surely be in.
Does that allow any room for a representative from the Pac-12? Maybe, but there’s no guarantee any of them will finish with less than two losses, and that might be too big an obstacle to overcome in order to sway the selection committee.
Of the candidates, Oregon might have the best shot, but the Ducks would have to beat a pair of ranked teams in Stanford and Utah, not to mention in-state rivals Oregon State, while I doubt either Arizona or Arizona State will avoid another pitfall somewhere along the line.
There’s still a long way to go in the season, and numerous unexpected story lines still to play out, but for now at least it’s still painfully obvious that a four-team playoff field just doesn’t go far enough.