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College Football Playoff- Is There a Fix?

Note to the reader: I recently tested the waters on another online blog and published this article there before returning to Pro Sports Fandom. When I left, I saw that the site I originally published this on had removed my name from the credits and given credit to another writer who frankly did not write this article. Here is the full original article and credits to me, myself, and I.

Ever since it’s induction in 2013, the College Football Playoff system has received criticism and caused issues. Most die-hard college football fans know the system by now, and either love it or hate it. But here’s the format in a brief description. The system has a 13 member committee who rank the top four teams each week starting in late October or early November.

In the final rankings, the top four teams would make the annual four team College Football Playoff. The final rankings also help to adequately determine the participants in the four New Year’s Six Bowls. It was a system that took a major step up from the previous two team BCS Championship Game. It was designed to give more teams opportunities, and make the New Year’s Six Bowls a lot more exciting for fans and teams alike. But yet here we are in 2018, and not all fans are excited or in love with the format.

Current College Football Playoff Format

The CFP committee releases a Top 25 each Tuesday after the conclusion of the first half of the season. The 13 member committee consists of current Division-1 college athletic directors, coaches, and executives. However, many of the athletic directors and coaches have either current or former ties to schools that qualify for consideration in the CFP. The CFP has a law that if a member of the committee has ties to a school, they are not allowed to vote for the school.

The CFP Rankings are based off of a team’s strength of schedule, conference championships, team records, and head to head results. The rankings shifted away from the computer based polls and rankings to different analytics. The big goal of the CFP was to give more teams an opportunity and a reward for having impressive records and regular seasons. It has done a better job than the preceding BCS Championship format did. But there are still many flaws to this system.

The College Football Playoff’s Flawed History

One of the biggest flaws in the new system is still the issue of deserving teams not getting an opportunity to play in the Playoff. In 2014, the format dealt with the TCU and Baylor debacle in its inception year. The teams won a share of the Big 12 that year, with both teams going 11-1. The committee left them out, however, because the Big 12 did not have a Conference Championship game.

The tightest year of the system to date was probably 2015-16. A few talented and deserving football teams like the one-loss Ohio State Buckeyes, two-loss PAC-12 champion Stanford Cardinal, and a one-loss Iowa Hawkeyes team were all left out of the top four. Out of every team ranked in the final CFP ranking from that year, seven teams managed to go undefeated or lose only one game. And yes, I get that the committee wants to reward teams that don’t lose or lose once but they seriously need to leave some room for error. Not all one or two loss teams should make the CFP but at least the most credible and impressive teams should.

2017-18 was another incredibly tight year of rankings and I think that this is the first really bad job that the committee had done in complete fashion. But the format that they have to abide by left them no choice. The undefeated AAC champion UCF Knights did not get a bid because the AAC isn’t a power conference. The Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes were left out because they had one bad loss to a solid bowl team in Iowa. Both teams should have gotten in solely based off their strong resumes. And now you might be asking, well how do they fix this? Well, I’ve got just the solution.

The Solution to Fix the College Football Playoff

The CFP should be extended to an eight-team playoff. But it’s not as simple as it sounds. The committee would use conference alignment to its best usage. They would grant automatic bids to the best team in the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, and PAC-12. The committee would rank the teams in the conference and stack them up against each other to determine who is the best in their conference. Five automatic bids are allocated to the best team in each of these five power conferences.

The sixth automatic bid is more of a wildcard bid. The bid would be taken if a mid major program or Notre Dame inside the top 15 of the final rankings, then they would lock up the sixth automatic bid. It becomes a third wildcard bid if there is no qualifying team for these terms. If there are multiple potential qualifying teams in the top 15, then the highest ranked team would secure the bid. There will always be two wildcard bids and sometimes three.  These bids are given to the top remaining teams in the rankings without a spot, regardless of conference affiliation.

The setup for this eight team College Football Playoff is simple and exciting. In the first round, the top seed faces the lowest seed and it goes on. ESPN could cover one round of football per week. There would be one round per week until there are two teams remaining. For TV and time reasons, in the opening round, ESPN would have two games on Saturday, and two on Sunday. It would basically replicate the current format of the NFL divisional round of the playoffs.

In the semifinals, ESPN would hold both games on one of the final days of the year. The CFP would end with a CFP Championship Game on a Monday eight days after the semifinals. The CFP is all about making money, and here is their superstar way to do it.

What Would The Past Years Look Like Under This Format?

This new format would add another level of hype to the end of the College Football season. With it, losing one game to a top 25 team wouldn’t break a team’s season entirely. Seeding of the teams would be the automatic bids being seeded 1-6 based on their final ranking. The wildcard bids are seeded as the highest of the two or three would be the top seeded wildcard.

After creating this format, I found myself thinking: “What would the past playoffs have looked like under this format?”. I did some research, studied and came up with results. These won’t be 100% accurate, obviously, but let’s see it anyways!

Note: Bold teams represent wildcard bids. Seeds are in order from highest to lowest.

2014-15 Teams: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor, TCU, Mississippi State, Michigan State.

2015-16 Teams: Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Notre Dame, Iowa, Ohio State.

2016-17 Teams: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Washington, Oklahoma, Western Michigan, Penn State, Michigan.

2017-18 Teams: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, USC, UCF, Alabama, Wisconsin.

All images used, owned by College Football News.

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