Fixing the FBS Playoff

Hot Beef Take

I’ve written on this before. In fact, I addressed this very scenario on my Facebook page about six or seven years ago. But there’s a lot of issues with the National Championship at the FBS level. The biggest thing, half the NCAA Division has zero chance at winning the national championship. How fair is that? Only teams from the Power Five conferences or an FBS Independent(Notre Dame) have ever played in this four team venture. Four teams, but you have five conferences. Someone in charge is really good at math…not!

For decades the next Division I level, the FCS(formerly known as I-AA) have run larger multiple team tournaments. Same holds true for Division II, Division III, the NAIA. There’s even a college football tournament on Mars that includes eight teams. Okay, I might be joking on that last statement, but I’m not totally, I’ve never been to Mars and I don’t wanna pay for the Mars Sports Network on my cable system.

But the argument will still hold from university presidents; “Student athletes would be playing too many games.” Really? They can do it at every other level, but not in the FBS? What if the FBS reduced its schedule to eleven games, instead of twelve? “Oh, no! Our institutions would lose too much money. Really? The money generated from a four round tournament, to be shared among all teams, from all conferences, would be exponentially larger than anything the bowls would provide. What about the bowl traditions? What tradition? Nobody cares about the bowls any more except in those locations where those particular teams are participating. And those teams not playing in the expanded playoffs could still play in the 30+ bowls that reward teams who creep over a .500 record.

So what’s the new format? Who gets in?

Since the whole thing is powered by the Power Five conferences, they’re going to get more of these participants. And it is fair in the fact that these conferences are stronger top-to-bottom than what has been called the Group of Five conferences. Power Five conferences teams could be automatic and the Group of Five would have a requirement of a Top 20 ranking, which would guarantee those spots. A spot could also be designated for the FBS Independents also, with the same requirement, since they don’t belong to a conference.

Ten Automatic Bids

  1. Atlantic Coast Conference – Atlantic Division Champion
  2. Atlantic Coast Conference – Coastal Division Champion
  3. Big Ten Conference – Eastern Division Champion
  4. Big Ten Conference – Western Division Champion
  5. Big XII Conference Champion
  6. Big XII Conference Second Place
  7. Pacific Twelve Conference – Northern Division Champion
  8. Pacific Twelve Conference – Southern Division Champion
  9. Southeastern Conference – Eastern Division Champion
  10. Southeastern Conference – Western Division Champion

Six Bids, requiring a Top 20 ranking

  1. American Athletic Conference Champion
  2. Conference USA Champion
  3. FBS Independents
  4. Mid-American Conference Champion
  5. Mountain West Conference Champion
  6. Sun Belt Conference Champion

What happens if any of those spots in the second grouping don’t meet the top 20 ranking requirement? Simple, the top ranked team, regardless of conference, gets a wild card in those spots. The first round of the playoffs will take place on campus sites. Teams will be seeded according to their national ranking, with no regard for geography. A provision will be included that a wild card cannot host in the first round. The quarterfinals, semifinals and national championship game will take place in a rotation of the seven biggest bowl games.

So what would the playoffs look like this season? Well, we can’t really do it from the end of the season, but we could pretend the season was over now and go from there.

Automatics: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Northwestern, Washington, Utah, Georgia, Alabama

Six Bids: Central Florida, Notre Dame

Wild Cards: Louisiana State,  Florida, Ohio State, West Virginia

So this is what the first round would look like…

#16 Northwestern @ #1 Alabama

#9 Louisiana State @ #8 Central Florida

#12 West Virginia @ #5 Texas

#13 Washington @ #4 Michigan

#14 Utah @ #3 Notre Dame

#11 Ohio State @ #6 Georgia

#10 Florida @ #7 Oklahoma

#15 Virginia Tech @ #2 Clemson

The bowl games for the quarterfinals will be Outback, Citrus, Fiesta and Rose. Bowl games for the semifinals will be Orange and Cotton. And the national championship will be played in the Sugar.