Attention everyone: I need you to stop what you’re doing and listen.
I have an urgent news story.
As I’m sure all of you fellow degenerate gamblers know, there’s no money bag opportunities this weekend aside from the game between the service academies. So instead of giving you a full breakdown of Army – Navy (I considered this), I figured I’d take this week to do something that needs to be done. I’ve locked myself in a dark room and managed to architect a postseason blueprint that will correct the college football playoff formula once and for all. I have no doubt this document will one day hang in the College Football Hall of Fame and analyzed like its the Zapruder film. You are being shown the path to a brighter future so read this post thoroughly. Study it. Learn from it. There are similar ideas being tossed around but this one is tweaked just right.
Our current system:
Its no secret that college football has the greatest regular season in all of sports (eat shit Major League Lacrosse!). For years and years this has been the proverbial argument used to block out any consideration of a playoff. Hell, before we could even get to the playoff it took until January 4th, 1999 for the sport’s first national championship game. But once the BCS was installed, people deep down knew that wasn’t the answer. Those that accepted it were simply ignoring their inner voice of reason. Yes, there were years the BCS system worked but there were times deserving championship contenders were left with no chance (Auburn 2004 comes to mind). After years of fighting the powers that be, the college football playoff system was born. And you know what happened? College football’s regular season has remained uncompromised. Perhaps you can even argue its been enhanced. But do you remember that inner voice of reason speaking to you from the BCS days? The one that says this can be even better? Its speaking to you now. I know it is because I hear it too. I’m here to tell you to listen to that voice. Don’t be the guy that tells people the current system is as good as it gets. That inner voice is the voice of truth.
Look, I’m a straight shooter. I’ll tell you how it is. The system we have in place now is a damn joke. There’s no structure to it. No given criteria. No guidelines. Like no one knows what the hell the committee is thinking because their thought process seems to constantly change. Are they taking the best four teams or the most deserving? Do conference championships matter or not? What about head to head? Would Ohio State have gotten in this year if they had only lost to Iowa by 3? Nobody knows.
Here’s my question to you: Would you be willing to give up an inkling of regular season excitement to create the great postseason that this great sport deserves? I would be. The players deserve it. The fans deserve it. Most importantly, the gamblers deserve it. I say we make conference championships important. I say we have a real playoff that determines a true champion. And you know what else??? I say we keep a committee.
There is a right number of teams for this playoff and its not four. I’m not even sure you can qualify four teams as a playoff. The right number is EIGHT gosh dangit. Here are the parameters:
- All five power 5 conference champions receive an automatic bid. Just like its done in the NFL, where the main focus is winning your division, the main focus becomes winning your conference championship. I include that all 5 conferences are enforced to keep a conference championship game.
- Once the conference championship games conclude, the committee’s first order of business is to rank the conference champions 1-5. These will be their seeds in the playoff. This rewards teams for winning their conference as the first 4 seeds will be granted home field advantage in the first round. This is also similar to the NFL where they reward their division champs with a home game against the wild cards despite records. The 5th seed will be forced to play a road game but that is their price to pay for being the lowest ranked of the conference champs. (This also ensures that teams fight to win their conference championships. For instance, in this years scenario Alabama has an unfair advantage in getting a week off since they did not have to play in the conference championship. In this scenario they are punished by having to play on the road in round one.)
- After the committee has ranked the conference champions 1-5, their next task is to select only TWO at-large bids. To do this, the committee will select the two highest ranked teams from their rankings that are not conference champions to fill the 6th and 7th seeds. This ensures that the regular season stays as competitive as possible as 3 at-large bids begins to get too inclusive. (For instance, this years two at large bids would be Alabama and Wisconsin which both possess only one loss. The addition of 3 at larges includes a 3 loss Auburn team).
- For the final 8th seed, the committee will select their highest ranked champion from the following pool of conferences: American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt. This ensures an often undefeated, or at least competitive, mid major team has a true path to a championship. Dictating that this champion fill the 8th seed also adds a benefit for being ranked number 1 as you get to face a non power 5 opponent in round one. (Can you imagine if the day came that one of these teams knocked off a one seed? All time great. I would have loved to of seen Tom Herman’s Houston team get its shot. Or the Boise Sate team that won the Fiesta Bowl.)
Here’s how this year’s playoff would be structured under this formula:
8. UCF @ 1. Clemson
5. USC @ 4. Ohio State
7. Wisconsin @ 2. Oklahoma
6. Alabama @ 3. Georgia
The winners of UCF-Clemson and USC-Ohio State would then meet in the Sugar Bowl while the winners of Wisconsin-Oklahoma and Alabama-Georgia play in the Rose Bowl. I contend that the 4 first round games taking place on campus would be an ALL TIME GREAT weekend. And we could get this year after year.
What’s going to get us there?
Hot take: I believe the four best teams made the playoff this year. But step one in the process to push to eight just happened. Not one, but two power 5 conferences just got left out the playoff. And no offence to TCU or Penn State, but Ohio State is as blue blood as it gets in college football. They just won their conference championship and they’re the ones on the outside looking in. The fact that this already happened to somebody like them may get this ball rolling faster than it would otherwise. I don’t think this is going to happen, but wait and see people’s reaction if Georgia plays Alabama for that national championship. All the anti-SEC people (everyone who doesn’t live down here) will freak. I say all this to point out an eight team playoff is inevitable. Whether its 2, 5 or 10+ years down the road. And when it does happen, lets get the formula right. Lets make sure college football sits atop the world as the greatest regular season AND postseason in sports.