What’s Wrong With the Playoff Now?
So after the committee decided to put 2 SEC teams in the playoff and left the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions out, many people wondered. They wondered why even have conference championships at this point? The thing is though, the conference championship isn’t going away anytime soon. So there has to be a way to fix the playoffs in order to account a guaranteed spot for a power 5 conference champion.
In order to fix this, the playoff committee could expand the playoff to 8 teams. Many people vouch for a 6 team playoff, but here’s why it wouldn’t work. If you have a 6 team playoff 2 teams would then get byes.
This works in the NFL because there isn’t 3 weeks between the regular season and the playoffs. Where as in college teams would have an odd number of weeks to get ready for the playoffs.
For example a non-conference champion that gets a bye would wait 6 weeks to play. While a conference champion that does have a bye might only have 4 weeks. It would just be weird. And sure, this works for bowl games, but bowl games aren’t taken anywhere close to as seriously as the playoff games are.
Eight teams just works for more reasons.
What Would an 8 Team Playoff Look Like.
Let’s use this year’s final College Football Playoff rankings to show what an ideal 8 team playoff might look like.
The seeding would be as follows: #1 Clemson, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Georgia, #4 Alabama, #5 Ohio State, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Auburn and #8 Southern California. Clemson would play USC, Oklahoma would play Auburn, Georgia would play Wisconsin, and my personal favorite, Alabama would play Ohio State.
This already gives us a great match up. Alabama and Ohio State. This is basically a play-in game that decides who would have deserved the 4th spot in the current playoff. We would also get to see the realness of some of the teams left out of the playoff this year such as Wisconsin. Wisconsin stuck with Ohio State, but you can’t say it wouldn’t be interesting to see how they match up versus Georgia
Setup of the New Playoff
Now, what would this extra round of games look like. Some of the other New Years Six Bowls have to be saved for teams that didn’t make the playoff. In order to account for this, the first round of games could be hosted by the higher seed. This is another appealing scenario to college football fans. A complaint about this from some people is that the fans wouldn’t travel. First of all, have you seen the Big House on the last Saturday in November? It’s practically half scarlet and grey.
Another fair point brought up by some people is that some of these kids would end up playing 16 games in one season. An easy fix to this, get rid of the cupcake games that teams schedule with FCS and Group of 5 teams. Now, not all teams from the Group of 5 are cupcakes and all you really have to do is get rid of one or 2 of those games.
Ideally from a college football fan, you would have 2 out of conference games to start the season. Maybe the first one is against a strong out of conference opponent, like Notre Dame. And the second one is against maybe an easier team like Army. Then from there you can start conference play. This would give teams 10 conference games, 10 games to build your resume for the playoff committee.
After the first round, you would likely be looking at a playoff setup a lot like we have now, 2 New Years Six bowls and the CFP Championship Game in Atlanta.
How Would the New 8 Teams Be Picked?
Again, ideally for me, 5 of the teams would come from the winners of the championship games of the Power 5 conferences. For example this year it would be, Georgia, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and USC. Those 5 teams would receive an automatic bid like the NCAA basketball tournament. The other 3 teams would be chosen from the rest of the field.
I think this makes it easier on the committee because they only have to choose 3 other really good teams instead of 4 of the best.
Likeliness of the 8 Team Playoff
Last year Sports Illustrated took an informal poll. They asked commissioners of the Power 5 conferences about how they felt about the 4 team playoff. 4 of the 5 felt like they were satisfied with the current setup and didn’t feel like the committee should change to an 8 team playoff.
Michael Kelly, the COO of the CFP Committee felt as if they had achieved a “hybrid” of the Super Bowl and the Final Four.
It seems like it’s not very likely that a change will be made anytime soon for the playoff committee to move to an 8 team playoff. It is, however, always fun to look at the possibilities and see how it might play out. And who knows, maybe this would introduce a Cinderella story of sorts into college football with an 8 seed upsetting a 1 seed.
Of course, with any change to college football, it’s going to be difficult and many people will not agree. It’s also not guaranteed to fix anything. It’s just interesting to think about and something to be hopeful for.
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