College Football Playoffs Better with 8 Teams

Robotic Voice Speaking: "Before casting your vote for the 4 teams in the college football playoffs, please pay attention to these instructions as our options have recently changed. ..."

Robotic Voice Speaking:
“Before casting your vote for the 4 teams in the college football playoffs, please pay attention to these instructions as our options have recently changed. …”

How much academic damage could have befallen college football this year had the NCAA Division 1 teams had an 8-team field, rather than the controversial 4-team pairings that led to so much subjective conflict and resentment over “the Committee’s” selection of Ohio State over Baylor or TCU? As things broke from reason at the end, ….

….#3 TCU bombed a poor Iowa State team, 55-3, for a co-championship tie with Baylor for the Big 12 title. The Committee rewarded their achievement by dropping the Frogs from the top 4 playoff team bracket to an out-of-the money 6th place in the final standings.

….#6 Baylor captured their share of the Big 12 crown by beating a very good Kansas State team at home, 38-27, also laying claim to the idea that they should have been declared the outright league champion for having tied the 11-1 season record of TCU, while also having won their head-to-head game with the Frogs, 61-58, also in Waco back on October 11th. The Committee rewarded Baylor for their achievement by moving them up to #5 in the final poll. leaving the Bears a spot also outside the playoff bracket, but, at least, ahead of TCU.

….#5 Ohio State won the Big 10 championship game with highly ranked Wisconsin by the blow-out score of 59-0, in spite of the fact that they had been forced to play the game with a 3rd string quarterback due to injuries that had taken out all others – and regardless of the fact that they had entered the game as a 5-point underdog. As compensation for their all-out total team, underdog scorching victory over an excellent Badger club, The Committee rewarded the Buckeyes by moving Florida State up from #4 to the #3 slot in the final poll – before giving the #4 spot to Ohio State over the descending TCU brand.

The field was set. The Committee may have gotten it right, but there was no way they stood a chance to escape the cries of bias against southern, Midwestern, or Texas teams by passing on both Baylor and TCU. The finger pointing season had begun, with both The Committee, the Big 12 Commissioner, and the Big 12 itself taking some whacks for not having a true single champion process in place that might have given their league something better than a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a team into the mix.

What a waste of time and effort, but let’s face it. There will always be some unhappy outsiders in college football. The violence of the sport and the impossibility of playing a 64-plus team field like basketball does just isn’t in the cards for football.

I would argue now. however, as I more quietly thought when the 4-team/committee selection plan was put in place that an 8-club field would be far better. In spite of all the spurious arguments about it ruining the college educations of all the players who would be involved, I will argue that the change could be made by giving existing big bowls a chance to host the four extra games it would require to handle an eight-team playoff:

Round One: 4 bowls would handle the 8-team first round in the Dec. 31st/Jan. 1st time frame.

Round Two: 2 bowls would handle the semifinal round on Jan. 10th (or the first Saturday that follows a full week or more in time from Round One.

Round Three: 1 bowl could handle the championship game on Jan. 19th (or the 2nd Monday following the semi-final round.

* They don’t call the 2015 championship contest a “bowl game,” but it could be rotated through the bowls too in the future as yet another pot-sweetener to system change.

Using “The Committee’s” Top Eight Picks in their final poll, let’s see how the plan could have worked, even this year, had anyone bothered to give the idea earlier thought and done the nitty-gritty political work it would have taken to get the bowls and big sponsors behind the idea that an eight-team field is a real market improvement over the roll call of meaningless games they now have on tap.

College Football Playoff Rankings
RK TEAM RECORD
1 Alabama 12-1
2 Oregon 12-1
3 Florida State 13-0
4 Ohio State 12-1
5 Baylor 11-1
6 TCU 11-1
7 Mississippi State 10-2
8 Michigan State 10-2

The current bowl schedule could have been used to take care of all eight teams without changing the time frame for a single game. Only the seedings would change:

 ROUND ONE

Dec 31st: FIESTA BOWL, 4:00 PM EST, #3 FLORIDA STATE vs. #6 TCU

DEC 31st: ORANGE BOWL, 8:00 PM EST, #4 OHIO STATE vs. #5 BAYLOR

JAN. 1ST: SUGAR BOWL: 4:00 PM EST, “1 ALABAMA vs. “8 MICHIGAN STATE

JAN. 1ST : ROSE BOWL: 8:00 PM, #2 OREGON vs. #7 MISSISSIPPI STATE

SEMI-FINALS

JAN 10TH: PEACH BOWL, 4:00 PM, EST, ROSE BOWL WINNER vs. ORANGE BOWL WINNER

JAN 10TH: TEXAS BOWL, 8:00 PM, EST. SUGAR BOWL WINNER vs. FIESTA BOWL WINNER

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

JAN 19TH: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, 8:00 EST @ AT&T STADIUM, Arlington, Texas

The NCAA and Bowl people will have to work out the money politics of how the games move around from year to year, but the point of reason must come back to someone in there along the way. – An eight-team field gives more schools a fair opportunity to settle the national championship of Division 1 college football on the field – while also giving more bowls the opportunity to host games that actually mean something.

My only concern about the eight-team field in college football is a singular one. – It may make too much sense to sprout wings and fly.

 

2 Responses to “College Football Playoffs Better with 8 Teams”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    With Five “Power Conferences” + Notre Dame, when qualified, the 4 team playoff was a poor idea from the start. Also it was not made plain the plan was not going to be based on AP or Coaches polls, but by on field results with Conference championships weighing most heavily. (The Big 12 had co-champs with no tie-breaker which cut both TCU and BU out.) Even if there had been upsets in the Conference championship games–which there weren’t– the Final Four should have consisted only of champions. With an eight team field that would not have been totally necessary. There would have been wild cards. Amazing that no one thought of that before they went to just a four team field. And eight is enough.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Greg. Your input on anything sports is always valued, but your detailed picture on the world of college football is the stuff that these NCAA “planners” should have had in mind when they set up this change. I agree with everything thing you’ve written here. The whole fallout from an ignored Power Five champion or an undefeated Notre Dame being left out in the cold (which sure didn’t happen this year) would have been avoided with a field of eight clubs. I also agree that “eight is enough” for as long as they only have to cover the power field they have now identified.

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