Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson swarms with teammates onto the field before the Iowa/Nebraska football game in Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 56-14. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Hensley: Make college football fun again

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This season’s College Football Playoff committee got its teams correct, but the format needs to be tweaked: The playoff needs to expand from four teams to eight.

By Adam Hensley

adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

Make college football fun again.

This all starts with the College Football Playoff — it needs work. I think we can all agree on that.

I’m not here to say the College Football Playoff needs to be abolished. I love the idea.

There just needs to be eight teams instead of four. Oh, and conference titles should count for something.

Hear me out on this.

In my perfect world, each Power 5 conference winner gets an automatic berth into the playoffs. Then, from the teams that failed to win their respective conferences, the top three programs would get at-large bids.

In this scenario, here’s what the matchups would be: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 8 USC, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Auburn, No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 6 Wisconsin, and No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 5 Ohio State.

Those are four games jam-packed with star-studded talent and coaching gurus. Obviously, the top eight would change each season, but the variety of teams would make for interesting matchups year in and year out.

Under the eight-team format, teams such as Central Florida, undefeated but not a member of a Power 5 conference, would have a shot at making the playoff.

This brings a new dynamic to the playoff, with smaller schools having the chance to go head-to-head with major powerhouses.

But above all, an eight-team playoff eliminates conversations like the Alabama-Ohio State debate this season.

The one-loss Tide secured the last spot in the playoff after failing to reach its conference championship, while the two-loss Buckeyes won the Big Ten Championship but fell outside the prestigious four spots.

Ohio State fell victim to major losses to Oklahoma and unranked Iowa – two losses that came earlier in the season than Alabama’s loss in its regular-season finale against Auburn.

But conference titles should mean something, right?

Ohio State had its sights set on making the College Football Playoffs, but what’s the point of winning the Big Ten title when the victory only secures a non-playoff bowl?

This happened to Penn State last season. The Nittany Lions caught fire midway through the season and could have hung with any team in the nation but instead missed out on the playoffs, even with a Big Ten title.

The new format fixes this, but at the same time, opens the doors for teams such as Alabama, arguably the best team in the country, to make the playoffs, even without earning a berth in its conference championship.

In the Tide’s case, Alabama was hailed by many as the clear-cut No. 1 squad, yet one late-season loss knocked it out of the SEC Championship race and almost ended its bid at a national title run.

College football is crazy and almost impossible to predict, but that’s the beauty of it. An eight-team playoff format adds to the chaos, while a the same time, quiets debates like this season’s Ohio State-Alabama scenario.

Mark Emmert, if you’re reading this, please take note. College football is better off with an eight-team playoff.

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