With each passing Tuesday, the College Football Playoff picture moves closer to being fully drawn.
I still think there should be a much bigger canvas.
While the Bowl Alliance was an improvement over the Bowl Coalition, and the Bowl Championship Series was better than both, the CFP is supposed to cure all of the Football Bowl Subdivision’s ills because it’s a PLAYOFF!
The party line can be found on the CFP website: “The College Football Playoff preserves the excitement and significance of college football’s unique regular season where every game counts.”
Actually, every game already counts, otherwise scores would not be kept and leagues wouldn’t have standings.
But yes, it is fun to have semifinals and a championship. If the season ended today, Alabama and Miami would meet in the Sugar Bowl and Clemson would play Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, with the winners tangling in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 8.
However, that’s more like an invitational than a playoff.
If you want a real postseason tournament, you need to have all the FBS conference champions represented.
And before you argue that an expanded playoff would be too much for the student-athletes, please tell that to the Football Championship Subdivision, which has already seen its tourney grow from 16 teams to 24.
NCAA Division II actually has a 28-team field, and Division III features 32 schools.
But I won’t be greedy: I’ll go with a 16-team FBS field, which I think would work out fine.
There are 10 conferences, so the champions of those leagues would automatically earn a bid. The other six teams would receive at-large berths, which would be up to the playoff committee to decide.
This tournament would put an end to the Power 5 and Group of 5 dynamic, which – in reality – only creates two divisions within the FBS. Because let’s be honest: the College Football Playoff was designed solely for the blue blood leagues, despite what can be found on the CFP website:
“Every FBS team has equal access to the College Football Playoff based on its performance. No team automatically qualifies.”
You can change “FBS” to just “BS” in the first sentence.
The odds against a Group of 5 team making a four-team playoff are astronomical, so the best a “mid-major” can hope for is making a New Year’s 6 bowl.
What concessions would have to be made to accommodate an expanded postseason?
Only one, really.
The 12-game schedule teams currently play would need to be trimmed back to 11. That way, the schools that advance to the national championship game will play 16 games.
That’s a lot, but only one more than the current CFP finalists participate in.
Also, this would preserve the conference championship games in all leagues, which would serve as play-in contests for the tourney.
So, using the current standings in the 10 conferences as a guideline to populate our automatic qualifiers, the field would feature Miami (ACC), UCF (American Athletic), Oklahoma (Big 12), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Florida Atlantic (Conference USA), Toledo (Mid-American), Boise State (Mountain West), Washington State (Pac-12), Alabama (SEC), and Troy (Sun Belt).
That leaves six wildcard spots to fill, and the selection committee would figure out who those teams were, along with seeding the 16-team bracket.*
* Don’t get your drawers in a bunch if I didn’t list your team as a potential league champion. Again, just guidelines based on current records. I still haven’t found enough plutonium to generate the 1.21 gigawatts needed to power my DeLorean into the future, therefore I don’t know all 10 of the 2017 titlists.
And for those who think it’s ridiculous to put, say, the Sun Belt champion in the playoff, why?
One of the beauties of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is seeing the little guys go dancing, even if most of them don’t get to dance for very long. Plus, upsets can and will happen.
The first round would see No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, etc., and be played at the site of the higher seed. That format would also be used in the quarterfinals, but then the semis could be set up as they are now – played in existing bowls around New Year’s Day.
But what about the other bowls?
You can still have them.
With 16 teams out of 130 making the playoffs, that still leaves plenty of room for classics such as the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and Dollar General Bowl.
Those who think bowl tradition is still a thing can still have their thing, while a more legitimate national championship tournament would bring the FBS in line with the rest of NCAA football.
Will a 16-team tournament ever happen?
I hope so.
CFP officials won’t admit it, but they’re already chomping at the bit to expand the field to eight teams. If and when they do, they’ll tell you a quarterfinal-semifinal-final format is the best way to determine a champion in big-time college football.
Yet once they realize how much more money 16 teams can put in their coffers, they’ll claim a four-round tourney is the greatest thing since the forward pass.
Just wait and see.