We are two years into the College Football Playoffs, so now is a good time for a look at the system and see what might make it better. The four team playoff is better than the two team playoff. There is little doubt about that. But, it is still not the perfect system. The old BCS system was criticized for not always getting the right teams into the championship game. But, even though the odds are better with the four-team playoff system, clearly Michigan State and Oklahoma did not appear to be two of the best four teams in the country. If the committee had it to do again, Stanford and Ohio State probably make up the other two teams to go along with Clemson and Alabama.
So how should we fix this? There is a lot of talk about going to an eight team system at some point. I think we need to go to a 16 team playoff.
Whoa! 16 teams? We’ll be playing football well into February! No. Not if it is done correctly. So, how would this work? How about this?
First, Notre Dame has to join a conference. You don’t want to join one? Then you are out. That goes for you too BYU and Army.
Then, have eight conferences with 12 teams each. This would require some reshuffling, such as the SEC needing to dump two teams, perhaps sending them to the Big 12. Then, each conference should be divided into 6 team divisions. The “Sweet Sixteen” round would be the conference championship games, played the week after Thanksgiving. The “Elite Eight” could then be played the week after the Army-Navy game two weeks later at the home of the higher seeds.
The “Final Four” could then be basically the same as it is now, which means the season ends the same time as now. If you are worried about a team having to play 16 games, then go back to an 11 game regular season schedule.
But wait? This doesn’t get Ohio State into the playoffs. They didn’t win their division. True. But that is on the Big Ten to make sure they have the teams evenly divided. Of course, that is tough to do. Sometimes one division has a stretch where they are a lot better than the other, such as in the SEC where the West continues to dominate. It was not long ago the East was the better half.
At least under this system, a team knows it has to win it’s division to be eligible for the post season tournament before the season starts. That way, there is no controversy when a team like Ohio State doesn’t get in because they lost their division.
Let’s be honest. This system would include 96 teams and there are nowhere near 96 teams that have a realistic shot at winning it all. If you are not “big enough” to get into one of the top eight conferences, you don’t have a shot at winning a national championship anyway. Maybe those schools can morph with the FCS to form an even better second tier playoff system?
What about the bowls? I’ve always loved the bowl games myself, but when 5-7 and 6-6 teams are getting bowl bids, then maybe it’s time to just ditch them. We could use them as a “NIT” type reward for teams that didn’t quite make it to the playoffs. Or maybe just have an actual NIT.