Saturday, December 06, 2014

A Better College Football Playoff System

The results on the field this year have created a perfect storm for the new four-team college football playoff system.   It is a nightmare, a near worst-case scenario which will result in calls for changes to the system,  For how to fix it, real on....

Problem: too many places worthy contenders can come from relative to the number of playoff spots.  There are ten Division One FBS conferences in America, five "Major" conferences and five "Mid-Majors" such as Conference USA or the MAC.   There are also a few independents floating around out there, most notably Notre Dame and BYU.   With five major conferences, the present four team playoff system was bound to leave one of the major conference champions out of the play-offs.  If Notre Dame or Boise State had been strong, then they may have knocked another major conference champion out of the playoffs.

The mid-majors and the independents did not pose any problems this year, but they could in future years, and everything else that could have gone wrong did go wrong.  One of the major conference champions, probably a very impressive Ohio State team, will not get a chance to compete.  Then add to it the wild-card - the so-called "Big 12" only has ten teams left in it, so they don't have a conference championship game.

The worst thing in the Big 12 that could happen for the four-team playoff would be that two of those teams are awesome and that when they played each other during the regular season it was a super-close game with the home team narrowly winning (making people wonder what would happen if the game were replayed on neutral turf).    That was just what happened, because both Baylor and TCU look good enough to deserve a shot in the playoffs.  To make it worse, Baylor won the head to head with TCU, but TCU appears to be the one going to the playoff.

Look, it is college, so you want to keep the playoffs as short as possible.  The thing is, four games is too few to really resolve this, and with five major conferences and a couple of strong independents and many mid-majors out there they should have realized it.

How would I fix it?   You have to have three games.  The conference champions from each of the five Majors would have a slot.  The sixth slot would be the wild-card, filled by either the highest ranked independent team, or a rare outstanding team from the mid-majors, or a situation like the one we have now in the Big 12 where it looks like a conference has two worthy teams.

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