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College Football Playoffs Expansion Proposal

Today the first College Football Playoff or CFP rankings come out. This is now Year 3 with this system which of course is way better than the previous system (BCS or Bowl Championship Series) but still quite far from perfect.

Of course we expect the usual suspects to be in the top 4: Alabama, Michigan, and Clemson. The 4th team is debateable and I have to say I am partial to the University of Washington as it is a PAC-12 school, the starting QB (Jake Browning) is from northern California and is an amazing pocket passer, and one of the starting linebackers is a former student of mine (Ben Burr-Kirven). Of course Louisville is also deserving for the 4th spot and this is where controversy can ensue since it would seem unfair to have two teams from the same conference (Clemson and Louisville are both ACC schools) to make up the 4 team playoff field for the CFPs. Also, don't forget about Ohio State since they seem to be in the conversation every year and happen to be in the same conference as Michigan.

Politics, as usual, could play a role here since Louisville's QB Lamar Jackson is nearly a shoe-in for the Heisman trophy with about a month left for the regular season and for rating purposes, you want to showcase the best player in the nation during the CFPs. Also, a school like Ohio State and its fans will travel a whole lot better than UW and its fans.

What I suggest is to expand the current playoff system from 4 teams to 8 teams. Now one will wonder how can college football schedule 4 extra games? Do you extend the season? Actually, I think the solution is quite simple. Here is what I propose.

  • Every champion from the 5 power conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC) makes the 8 team playoff field and the 3 at large teams are determined by the CFP committee. The committee can also determine the seeds for these 8 teams with the possibility of at an large team getting a #1 seed and a conference having multiple teams in the playoff field.

  • Play the first round games or quarterfinals during the 3rd weekend in December. This is usually the weekend before Christmas and schools will have just completed final exams and will be getting out for Winter Break. The higher ranked teams (#1 - 4) would host on their campus or where ever they typically play their home games and the lower ranked team of course would travel to the host schools and be matched up in the following manner: #1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6, and #4 vs #5.

  • Keep everything else the same for the semifinals and championship game. The semifinals right now take place around New Year's Eve/Day and that is fine. You can still use the traditional bowl sites like the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, or Orange Bowl on a rotating basis from year to year. The championship game can be played during the 2nd week of January at a predetermined site like it is right now.

If you think about it, the regular season typically ends right after Thanksgiving and conference championships take place during the first weekend of December. Then the 2nd weekend of December is the Heisman Award Ceremony in New York City so this can be a time for the 8 playoff teams to rest and prepare for their quarterfinal matchups. Now some critics will say that playing a game right after final exams can be detrimental to the academic well being of these student athletes. REALLY?! We are talking about college football players. Yes, some will take school seriously and want to do well on final exams but several are taking some of easiest majors their schools have to offer and could wind up taking an alternative form of their final exam like an oral assessment or a project. Final exams can also be re-scheduled. That happens often in academia.

Students would definitely stick around an extra day for a quarterfinal game being played at their home stadium on a Friday or Saturday after finals are over. After the game and the wild debauchery that follows a big college football extravaganza, the kids can then fly home for the holidays to be with their families and snap out of their hangovers. This would also be a ratings bonanza with 4 extra college football games that will mean something. Just imagine the possibility of two big name schools like Alabama and Wisconsin going at it in Tuscaloosa or a re-match between Michigan and Ohio State at the Big House.

This proposal would also create more equality for the college football landscape. Now every power conference feels it has a chance to compete for a national title. Two years ago the Big 12 felt it was snubbed and the PAC-12 felt it was left out last year. With this expansion, above average teams in each power conference would have a shot if they get hot at the right time and win their conference championship (like Colorado and Utah in the PAC-12). More teams would feel like they have a chance at making the playoffs and this would in essence turn the conference championships for each power conference into a play-in game or pre-quarterfinal playoff game. Again, this would be huge for ratings since right now I wouldn't care to watch the PAC-12 championship game if neither team had a chance to make it to the CFPs and if I didn't attend either school.

We would even see equality for the teams that are not from power conferences but do very well during the regular season. Teams like Western Michigan or Boise State could earn the #8 seed if they finish the season undefeated or with 1 loss. Back with the old BCS system and with the current system, teams from outside a power conference have virtually no chance of winning a national title for college football. That doesn't seem equitable to me and we should end this system where the richer just keep getting richer.

Hopefully this proposal makes sense but I am guessing those in charge of college football won't get it. They are slow to change and can't make sense of anything unless more money can be made!