- Bill Connelly is a staff writer for ESPN.com.
It could be said that covering politics is a lot like covering sports: campaigns as horse races, blind and often destructive team allegiances, and so on. But it goes in the other direction too: Covering sports is often an extremely political exercise. That’s particularly true in the way that, no matter what, any new piece of evidence reinforces our previous beliefs.
Case in point: No matter how a given season plays out — with a couple of obvious, dominant teams at the top or with far more parity and chaos — it reinforces our established beliefs in how college football’s national title should be determined.
Person A: Georgia is the only genuinely dominant team this year? That’s just proof we don’t need to expand the College Football Playoff! We already know what the most deserving team is, and we don’t need to invite more people to the party! In fact, bring back the BCS!
Person B: Georgia is the only genuinely dominant team this year, but it’s pretty hard to separate, say, Team No. 2 from Team No. 10? That’s proof we need to expand the playoff to eight teams (or 12 or 16 or 24)! We could have some amazing playoff games, even if we know who will probably win the title! The journey is as important as the destination!
We might as well be arguing about tax cuts.
For the record, I very much resemble Person B. But with playoff expansion all but certain to take shape over the coming weeks and months — we don’t quite know if the playoffs will expand to eight teams or 12, but signs point to expansion of some sort — let’s look at how 2021’s national title race is taking shape in the current iteration of the CFP, and let’s look at how an expanded playoff would affect how we’re looking at the season’s stretch run. What would we be arguing about with an eight- or 12-team format (or 24!)? Which games would take on increased or decreased importance in a different format?
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