As March rolls up, we see a dramatic change in scenery. The NBA and NHL seasons are in their respective “dog days” as the playoffs are approaching but it seems like it’s not close enough. MLB is right around the corner. College football players are preparing for their spring games in a month, and college basketball leads us into March Madness.
Nobody counts the play-in games so when it’s all set and done, you have 64 teams walk into the tournament and one team walks out a national champion. It is a type of tournament where the favorites usually win it all but the underdogs have Cinderella runs that are sometimes talked about more than the champions themselves. So what if college football decided to run a March Madness style format to determine a national champion?
Well, without getting into the overall politics of who gets what seed, let’s look at the final rankings that CBS Sports had last year and make a mock bracket to see if Clemson would have come out on top? In this fun alternate reality bracket, we will assume each team plays a 10-game schedule and the higher seed will host for 4 rounds and then the Final Four will be hosted by Dallas because they host everything nowadays. I get that the rankings were different in week 10 but just go with it.
In my world, there are no play-in games so Clemson would be the overall #1 seed and play team #64 which would be Indiana. They would be in the East bracket. It would look like this:
1)Clemson vs 16)Indiana
8)Kansas St. vs 9)Houston
5)Miami FL vs 12)Old Dominion
4)Virginia Tech vs 13)Wyoming
6)Utah vs 11)BYU
3)Western Michigan vs 14)Baylor
7)San Diego St. vs 10)Air Force
2)Florida St. vs 15)TCU
Clemson handles Indiana easily, Houston edges KSU, Miami and Virginia Tech have boring blowout games, The Holy War Round 2 goes to BYU, Baylor has the biggest upset of the tournament from a seeding standpoint, SDSU holds off Air Force and while Florida St. got very unlucky in drawing an underrated TCU team, they pull it out.
Round of 32
1)Clemson vs 9)Houston (Clemson comes from behind and narrowly escapes the upset)
5)Miami vs 4)Virginia Tech (Brad Kaaya gets the win in Virginia and calls out Clemson afterwards)
11)BYU vs 14)Baylor (Baylor seems to be keeping the controversy off the field and pulls out another upset)
7)SDSU vs 2)FSU (FSU handles Donnel Pumphrey and company)
1)Clemson vs 5)Miami (Clemson makes Kaaya eat crow)
14)Baylor vs 2)FSU (FSU kills the Cinderella and sets up a date with ACC rival Clemson)
1)Clemson vs 2)FSU (Watson continues to show why he is one of the best quarterbacks in college football. This rematch has a Godfather 2 like feel to it as it foes down to the wire as Watson throws for 4 touchdowns and runs for 1, including his touchdown pass with 1:30 to go in the game. Clemson still makes the Final Four.)
Enter the Vegas favorite in the South bracket Alabama.
1)Alabama vs 16)Kentucky
8)Tulane vs 9)Navy
5)USF vs 12)Louisiana Tech
4)LSU vs 13)NC State
6)WKU vs 11)UNC
3)Oklahoma St. vs 14)Northwestern
7)Nebraska vs 10)Pitt
2)Penn St. vs 15)Wake Forest
So let’s just fast forward to what the people want and what the people are going to get: Alabama vs LSU and Oklahoma State vs Penn St. Alabama stops Leonard Fournette again and Oklahoma State outscores Penn St. 54-50.
1)Alabama vs 3)Oklahoma St. (Oklahoma St. looks shell-shocked playing in Alabama and maybe because Alabama has an NFL defense or maybe it’s the fact that Oklahoma St. doesn’t have a very good defense but either way, Alabama wins this one. Alabama heads to the Final Four.
Now we head out West to see who will eventually play Clemson. USC gets the nod over Washington because they bring more mon…. err because they are ranked #3 and that’s it. They host Vanderbilt in round 1.
1)USC vs 16)Vandy
8)Temple vs 9)Iowa
5)Louisville vs 12)Toledo
4)Florida vs 13)Georgia (First to 3 wins….)
6)Auburn vs 11)Texas A&M
3)Wisconsin vs 14)New Mexico
7)Boise State vs 10)Minnesota
2)Ohio State vs 15)Ohio
Sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up and the committee has to tell you it wasn’t on purpose. The world’s largest outdoor cocktail party, two SEC foes, and an all Ohio game make up the west bracket. Iowa beats Temple, Louisville moves on, Florida wins 7-3, A&M gets the upset over Auburn, and the final 3 favorites move on.
Round of 32
1)USC vs 9)Iowa (In our hypothetical world, the USC Rose Bowl doesn’t happen but you get the picture; beat a Big-10 team.)
5)Louisville vs 4)Florida (The human highlight reel is still living the dream and gets the upset win in the Swamp)
11)A&M vs 3)Wisconsin (Wisconsin sends Myles Garrett a “You’ll be drafted #1 but not as a national champion card” as Wisconsin wins this one)
7)Boise St. vs 2)Ohio St. (Boise St. is a very different team on the road and when that home team is Ohio State, you can’t afford mistakes. Ohio St 35-14)
1)USC vs 5)Louisville (USC finally stops Lamar Jackson and moves on)
3)Wisconsin vs 2)Ohio St. (Ohio State escaped in Wisconsin earlier in the year and getting this one at home gives them a slightly easier game and victory)
1)USC vs 2)Ohio St (On paper, maybe the best two names you can get from a marketing standpoint and while Ohio St. petition’s to get this game in Columbus too, they travel to Southern California and that isn’t a problem as the Buckeyes are the first team to really beat USC with Darnold as the starter. Ohio State to the Final Four)
And last but not least, the Midwest bracket where Oklahoma gets the last #1 seed and faces Middle Tennessee.
1)Oklahoma vs 16)Middle Tennessee
8)Washington State vs 9)Georgia Tech
5)Stanford vs 12)Memphis
4)Colorado vs 13)Arkansas
6)West Virginia vs 11)Troy
3)Michigan vs 14)Colorado St.
7)Tennessee vs 10)Appalachian St.
2)Washington vs 15)Idaho
Oklahoma wins easy and so does Washington State. Stanford gets the win in Palo Alto and catches a break as Arkansas shows up and beats Colorado. The rest of the bracket favorites are playing their backups in the 4th quarter.
Round of 32
1)Oklahoma vs 8)Washington St. (Nobody realizes Mayfield can’t outrun the cops yet so still on top of the world)
5)Stanford vs 13)Arkansas (Stanford defense prevails in a 20-17 win)
6)WVU vs 3)Michigan (Michigan holds WVU to 6 points, their lowest output since 2013)
7)Tennessee vs 2)Washington (Washington holds off Tennessee but looks very shaky in a nail biter)
1)Oklahoma vs 5)Stanford (Even with Chryst at quarterback, the line can’t hold up and the defense gets tired as the game progresses)
3)Michigan vs 2)Washington (Michigan clobbers Washington and the first team from the actual CFP last season is eliminated)
1)Oklahoma vs 2)Michigan (Michigan was the team that the committee had to use as an example last year but in our reality, they played for the chance at winning it all and do on the road to Oklahoma and pull it out. Michigan heads to the Final Four)
So without further to do, adding a 64-team bracket to college football might be fun on paper and play teams that you would probably not normally play (unless you schedule like the SEC), the Final Four teams in this bracket were Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan. The real 2016/17 CFP was the same thing except for Washington instead of Michigan.
Now it’s possible Michigan beats Alabama and Ohio State scores 1 point in this bracket but for the most part, March Madness shouldn’t be a part of college football but an 8-team playoff would be nice.