Our 8 Team Playoff Proposal

The final playoff rankings for 2017 are almost upon us. And as usual, someone will be left on the outside looking in who had a legitimate case to be in the playoff. Look, it’s been a good start. But the shortcomings have been observed already, so let’s get to fixing this thing.

I say the first move we make is regarding the committee. Why do they need to regularly meet and rank the teams? It accomplishes nothing. It’s merely a money grab by ESPN to get some college football news they think people will watch on Tuesday nights. It’s pointless.

Instead, let’s make the football committee the same as the basketball committee. They just meet at the end and figure it out. Done. Simple.

Ok, so what are they figuring out? Primarily seeding and at large bids. But let’s get first things first. It’s obvious there is a division in college football between the Power 5 and the Group of 5. I get it. We all do. We don’t need 10 conference champions in a playoff so that the five Group of 5 champs can get demolished each year by the Power 5 champs. Pointless.

So now that we recognize that, let’s just call a spade a spade. Not every Group of 5 champ needs a spot in the playoff. They just don’t. But someone does. So much like the highest ranked Group of 5 team is currently guaranteed a New Year’s bowl game, let’s instead guarantee them a playoff berth. This way EVERY team is playing for something instead of being eliminated before the season starts.

Which 8 teams get playoff berths then? All Power 5 conference champions, the highest ranked Group of 5 conference champion (by the committee) plus two at large bids (decided by the committee). That’s it. Pretty simple, right?

The committee then seeds the teams 1-8 and creates traditional match ups- 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5. This is your first round of quarterfinal games.

When will they be played? The same Saturday as the Army/Navy game after conference championship weekend. Will that mess with their game? Sure, but does anyone care? Neither team is relevant. Surely there’s room in the day for a few more games. Let Army and Navy play in the morning and have the playoff games that afternoon (on ESPN and ABC) and evening (again on ESPN and ABC).

Where will they play these games? The higher seed will get them as home games. It makes the seeding matter. Right now the two playoff bowls will be in Los Angeles and New Orleans. Assuming USC is too far out to get in the playoff, how does LA figure to be an advantage for the 2 seed over the 3 seed exactly? It doesn’t. So in our first round, seeds 1-4 will get home games.

What happens to the four losing teams? They will be available for bowls. Since bowl pairings sometimes need to wait to see if Army or Navy becomes bowl eligible, it won’t be a big deal to have some bowls wait to release their pairings until after the quarterfinals. Eliminated teams can participate in a bowl game still, just like the winning teams will.

What happens to the winning teams? They play the semi-finals exactly the same way they do now. Highest remaining seed plays lowest remaining seed at the closer of the two bowl locations. Remaining two teams play in the other bowl location. Winners are in the championship.

That’s it. Nothing much to it. If this were our system this year, and assuming favorites win this weekend, these would be the match ups:

1. Clemson
2. Oklahoma
3. Georgia
4. Wisconsin
5. Alabama
6. USC
7. Penn State
8. UCF

Alabama, USC, Penn State and UCF are each capable of pulling off that upset. This gives everyone a clear path at the start of the season to the playoff. This gives every worthy team a shot to compete for the championship. There’s no reason to think it needs to continue to expand beyond this.

But what about the number of games being played? Simple, drop a non-conference cupcake. All the big guys have them. Replace them with a bye week. Players get more rest during the grind of the season, and we have to endure less sacrificing of FCS foes to big schools. That caps the season at 11 games, with one conference championship, one quarterfinal, one semifinal and one final to be added at most. That’s 15 total games, the same number that will be played by whoever wins it all this year.

What do you think?

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