College Football Playoff Expansion Scenarios: What Would 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 16-Team Formats Look Like?

College Football Playoff Expansion Scenarios: What Would 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 16-Team Formats Look Like?

College Football Playoff

College Football Playoff Expansion Scenarios: What Would 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 16-Team Formats Look Like?

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What if the College Football Playoff expanded? What would the 4, 5, 6, 8, 12 and 16-team formats be? 


College Football Playoff Expansion Scenarios

Ranking all 39 of the 2019-2020 bowls

The College Football Playoff committee had a two-foot putt.

For all the fawning over this supposedly impossible task this group had to deal with, it’s actually ridiculously easy. Just go by the metrics, strength of schedules, and then kick back once there are three 13-0 Power Five champions and one 12-1 P5 champ.

But the system still sort of stinks that it requires a panel of judges to get into a playoff.

Imagine if a 13-person panel was in charge of determining a four-team NFL playoff? It’s a league of just 32 teams, not 130.

Imagine if the committee had to leave out the Seahawks? Or the Chiefs? Or the Cowboys? Okay, bad example, but you get the idea.

What can’t the teams play their way in? Why should college football teams be left in the dark when it comes to what they need to do to get the fourth spot – that’s what Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor had to go through before Oregon made it all easy.

So let’s tweak this system. What if we created a system based totally on merit? Here are some ideas for very, very easily-created systems and College Football Playoff expansion plans – using the overall results for this year – for four, five, six, eight, 12 and 16-team formats.

4-Team Format & Scenario: Just Conference Champions

What if the idea was for the College Football Playoff committee to determine who the four-best conference champs were, and not just the four-best teams, leaving the matter to the play on the field?

What if the College Football Playoff committee still had its say, but only from the four top conference champions? This year, it would be fine …

PEACH: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
FIESTA: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson


5-Team Format & Scenario

This is likely the most realistic option to come next, because it’s easy, it’s the least invasive, and it solves a slew of problems.

Normally, being the No. 1 seed means next to nothing because the fourth seed is so strong. There should be some sort of a massive break for the teams that earn the top spots, and here it is.

1, 2 and 3 are in. 2 and 3 know which bowl they’re going to and can prepare. 1 gets a team that had to play another game.

The 4 and 5 conference champions in the final CFP Rankings would play one game two weeks after Championship Saturday – this year, on December 21st – at the home site of the No. 4 team. That gives both teams two weeks to rest up and prepare, finals aren’t an issue, and then the winner gets a week to get ready for the College Football Playoff.

December 21: Oregon plays at Oklahoma
PEACH: No. 1 LSU vs. Oregon/Oklahoma winner
FIESTA: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson

Take the conference champion requirement out of it and just go by the rankings …

December 21: Georgia at Oklahoma
PEACH: No. 1 LSU vs. Georgia/Oklahoma winner
FIESTA: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson


6-Team Format & Scenario

This isn’t quite as likely as you might think – the 5-team playoff is the likely better compromise between all the parties involved – but it would be the same sort of set-up. The top two seeds get a bye.

Two weeks after Championship Saturday, No. 6 travels to No. 3, and No. 5 travels to No. 4. The winners then go to the four-team College Football Playoff as currently constructed.

In this format, all five Power Five champs are in, along with the top-ranked Group of Five champion.

December 21: No. 6 (according to this format) Memphis at No. 3 Clemson
No. 5 Oregon at No. 4 Oklahoma
PEACH: No. 1 LSU vs. lowest-seeded remaining team
FIESTA: No. 2 Ohio State vs. highest-seeded remaining team


8-Team Format & Scenario

The logistics are a wee bit harder here, but they’re not that tough.

A week after the conference championship games, the higher-seeded teams get the home playoff advantage. The five Power Five conference champs are in, along with the top-ranked Group of Five champion. There are two wild-card openings, just in case there’s a wacky upset – like if Virginia beat Clemson or if Wisconsin beat Ohio State.

However, the only way this would realistically get through would be if there was some sort of agreement from the conference commissioners that there wouldn’t be a championship game rematch in the first round. In this scenario, Ohio State and Wisconsin would play for a third time. In that case, the committee would adjust in the way it would see fit.

Just imagine a Saturday of this (numbers are seeds, not rankings) …

No. 8 Memphis at No. 1 LSU
No. 7 Oregon at No. 2 Ohio State
No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 3 Clemson
No. 5 Georgia at No. 4 Oklahoma


12-Team Format & Scenario

It’s just not going to get any bigger than eight, if at all. The logistics are too much of a problem, but okay – the top four teams get a bye, the bottom eight play on December 14 on the home field of the higher seed.

Round 2 is on December 21 on the home field of the higher seed, and then it’s the four-team College Football Playoff like normal.

In this, there’s no way this is even a possibility unless all four Power Five conference champs are automatically in, along with a Group of Five champion.

The number is a seeding, not a ranking.

No. 9 Florida at No. 8 Wisconsin
No. 10 Penn State at No. 7 Baylor
No. 11 Utah at No. 6 Oregon
No. 12 Memphis at No. 5 Georgia

Lowest-seeded remaining team at No. 1 LSU
Next-lowest seeded remaining team at No. 2 Ohio State
Next lowest seeded remaining team at No. 3 Clemson
Highest-seeded remaining team at No. 4 Oklahoma

Or ….


16-Team Format & Scenario

Let’s just let everyone in. First Round on December 14th on the home field of the higher-seed. Second Round on December 21 on the higher-seed home field. College Football Playoff final four as currently set up.

All five Power Five conference champions are automatically in, and the top-ranked Group of Five champion is automatically in. Numbers here are seeds, not rankings

No. 16 Memphis at No. 1 LSU
No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State
No. 14 Michigan at No. 3 Clemson
No. 13 Alabama at No. 4 Oklahoma
No. 12 Auburn at No. 5 Georgia
No. 11 Utah at No. 6 Oregon
No. 10 Penn State at No. 7 Baylor
No. 9 Florida at No. 8 Wisconsin

The process then gets reseeded – the highest-ranked remaining team gets home field advantage over the lowest-ranked remaining team, and so on.


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