What’s the answer to all the College Football Playoff issues? A six-team format.
Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, and Michigan are all feeling left out of the College Football Playoff fun. So what’s the answer? How about a six-team College Footbal Playoff format that checks all the boxes.
What’s the biggest problem with the College Football Playoff committee’s final decision? It just all seems so … unsatisfying. And it didn’t have to be that way.
Now you have a Penn State team that won the best conference in college football, is one of the hottest teams in the country, and beat Ohio State head-to-head not in the College Football Playoff.
Meanwhile, Washington played and beat next-to-nobody, the Buckeyes didn’t win their own division outright, and roaring teams like Oklahoma and USC are left on the outside looking in.
But the answer is so simple – and very easy to tweak to make it happen.
An eight-team playoff is too much. It’s logistically more difficult than it might appear, and a change like this isn’t going to happen until (maybe) after the Trump administration is over – unless he’s able to figure out how to get a third term.
An eight-team format devalues the regular season, and as is my life’s mantra, sorry, but if you can’t win your conference championship, you don’t deserve to win the national title.
And no, Michigan, USC, Wisconsin – you’re not one of the best teams if you didn’t win your conference.
I hate the 2007 New York Giants.
I hate the 2015-2016 Syracuse Orange basketball team.
I hate the idea of a team getting a second chance to make a first impression already set by the regular season.
So the answer is a six-team College Football Playoff.
All five Power Five conference champions, and one catch-all – I refuse to use the term wild card – to account for a Notre Dame, or a Group of Five powerhouse – like Houston, if it ran the table this year – or a fluke in one of the conference championship games.
Yeah, I know, the catch-all sort of becomes that wild card I despise so much, but unlike a long baseball season, or a college basketball tournament that lets in everyone but Northwestern, and an NFL campaign with several fail-safes to get in if you’re a worthy team, one college football misfire to be that sixth team wouldn’t likely be all that bad.
For example, if Florida beat Alabama in the SEC championship and the Tide had a bad day – okay. And in this year’s case, one meltdown of a play for Ohio State at Penn State wouldn’t wipe away the best resume in college football.
The other key to this? It’s doable.
Remember, the College Football Playoff came about because they didn’t have to change the infrastructure. All they did was take the BCS format and make two teams play one extra game, and then change the name from the BCS Championship to the College Football Playoff National Championship.
In a six-team College Football Playoff, the top two teams get a bye and go off to the New Year’s bowl world as it’s currently set up, while the 3-through-6 seeds play one extra game just before the rest of the bowl season starts, so the winners have time to rest.
The remaining lowest-seed would play the No. 1 team, and the other would play the No. 2.
Remember, the CFPers are bowl people, too, and they don’t want to mess up the bowl season. Okay, then the first round of the playoff is played at the home sites of the higher seeds two weeks after the conference championship games. Then the rest of the bowl season rolls on, and there’s a little bit of downtime for the 3-through-6ers to rest up before they get it going – and some coaches might love the fact that the team is kept in fighting shape with that one extra game.
That way, the committee’s job is all about the seeding more than the choosing, with their main task to determine the pecking order of the top six, and that sixth team.
So how would it work? This year …
No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson would get byes. Alabama would be in the Chick-fil-A Peach, and Clemson the Playstation Fiesta.
No. 3 Ohio State would host No. 6 Oklahoma – the Big 12 champion – in Columbus. Yeah, it’s a rematch, but this might be unavoidable once in a while depending on the situation. This is where the committee could step in and seed accordingly, but the other option, Penn State, would be a worse rematch situation for the Buckeyes.
No. 4 Washington would host No. 5 Penn State.
The winners would be off to the final four, and there wouldn’t be any whining or moaning allowed. If you can’t get into THIS top six, you did something wrong, or you weren’t good enough.
So how would this have worked in the first two years of the CFP?
In 2015, No. 1 Clemson (Orange Bowl) and No. 2 Alabama (Cotton) would’ve had byes. No. 3 Michigan State (Big Ten champion) would’ve hosted No. 6 Stanford (Pac-12 champion), and then the debate would’ve begun.
No. 4 Oklahoma (Big 12 champion) would host the other semifinal, but there would’ve been a fight between 11-1 Ohio State and 12-1 Iowa for that last spot. Considering the Hawkeyes lost the Big Ten championship in a last-second heartbreaker, and that they finished fifth in the final CFP rankings, they’d have gone to Norman.
Best guess on what would’ve happened?
Stanford would’ve beaten Michigan State and played Alabama in the Cotton, Clemson would’ve played Oklahoma in the Orange, and we get the same national championship result.
The six-team format would’ve solved everyone’s problem in 2014.
If you recall, Baylor and TCU both got left out in the cold because Baylor had a non-conference schedule against bunch of schools with blind kids and TCU’s only loss was to the Bears.
No. 1 Alabama (SEC champ) would’ve gone to the Sugar, No. 2 Oregon (Pac-12 champ) would’ve been off to the Rose Bowl.
No. 3 Florida State (ACC champ) would’ve hosted No. 6 TCU (catch-all), and No. 4 Ohio State would’ve hosted No. 5 Baylor (“One True” Big 12 champ).
Best guess on what would’ve happened?
TCU would’ve beaten Florida State and would’ve gone on to give Oregon a wild Rose Bowl. That Horned Frog team was a juggernaut, but the Ducks would’ve pulled it out to get to the national championship, while Ohio State would’ve beaten Baylor. However, would that one extra game have mattered for the Buckeyes?
Nah. Ohio State would’ve beaten Bama and Oregon.
Even if it all didn’t happen that way, it would’ve been fun. And more importantly, it would’ve been very, very satisfying.