There’s a Perfect Way to Format the College Football Playoff, and the NCAA Isn’t Using It
As we near the fourth running of the College Football Playoff, the talk of who’s in, who’s out heats up across everywhere from ESPN to the tables of Market Central. Each final ranking from the selection committee has been met with some sort of criticism as every year the committee has to make the incredibly hard decision to send four teams into the “Final Four” of college football. The College Football Playoff has been successful in terms of satisfying football fans who wanted a playoff format, but the NCAA still receives criticism for the decision to have a rather small 4 team playoff system. I am one of those people that wanted a playoff format, but still want more teams because I believe there is a perfect system to make every football fan happy while giving all 130 FBS teams a chance to win the National Championship.
The perfect system would be a College Football Playoff that features eight teams, which is twice as many as the current format. The eight teams would be the champions of each power five conference, the BIG 10, PAC 12, Big 12, SEC, and ACC, as well as the highest ranked non power five team, and two wild cards. The wild cards would be the two highest ranked teams in the final College Football Playoff Rankings. The teams would be ranked 1-8 based on the CFP rankings, similar to the NCAA Basketball Tournament and how the CFP is now, and the one seed would play the eight seed, two against the seven, and so on. The locations for each 4 of the quarterfinals would be the eight biggest bowl games, similar to now where there is a rotation of the “new years six” bowl games hosting the two CFP semifinals.
For example, an eight team playoff’s semifinals last year, based on the CFP rankings, would have looked like this: (1) Alabama vs (8) Western Michigan, (2) Clemson vs (7) Oklahoma, (3) Ohio State vs (6) Michigan, and (4) Washington vs (5) Penn State.
A key to using this system is how it would truly give everyone a chance. With the current four team format it is hard to believe we will ever see a non power five team in the Playoff. The last dominant team not from a power five was Boise State, who reached number 2 in the Associated Press poll in 2010. However, they had been a great team for some while and scheduled games against Virginia Tech and Oregon State out of conference, a luxury that teams like last years Western Michigan and current highest ranked non power five Central Florida don’t have, as they weren’t prepared for this success.
There are a few arguments that one could make against this system. This would add another game to college athlete’s busy schedules and create another game of injury risk. This system would have most of the teams in the Playoff playing thirteen games before reaching the Playoff, and then the two teams in the final would play at most sixteen games. However, sixteen games is a standard NFL season without the playoffs, and some high school teams will even play sixteen games when you including state tournaments. The CFP selection show has become very popular and the eight team system would make the show less interesting, but I don’t think the NCAA and ESPN would be complaining about four more Playoff games in terms of TV ratings and money.
So as the college football season nears its end, just think what could be with an eight team playoff. Four more Playoff games, all 130 teams have a chance, no arguing about which conference championship means more, and it would feel more like the greatness that is the NCAA Basketball Tournament.