Four teams are not enough for the CFB playoff, and eight teams are too many, but six is the magic number.
The playoff committee was created to match up the country’s marquee teams, and so far, they have not met their goal. Almost every year, a playoff game features a blowout, creating controversy about whether or not some teams have been deserving of a spot.
This year in the semifinals, Clemson crushed Notre Dame, and Oklahoma never stood a chance versus the Crimson Tide, leaving Ohio State and Georgia upset about being snubbed. A similar dilemma plays out almost every year.
My six team solution would fix everyone’s problems.
Here’s how each team would make the playoff:
- Five of the teams would receive at-large bids by winning their respective Power Five conference.
- Leaving the playoff committee to decide who claims the final slot.
- All six teams would be ranked 1-6 by the playoff committee.
Here’s how the playoff bracket would be set up:
- The two highest ranked teams would receive byes in the first round.
- The third-ranked team will play the sixth-ranked team. The fourth-ranked team will play the fifth-ranked squad two weeks after conference championship weekend. (Mid December)
- The two winners go on to the semifinals to face the top two teams. The first ranked team will play the lowest ranked opponent, leaving the remaining two teams to face each other. Both games will occur on New Years’ Eve, giving a bye to the quarterfinal teams.
- The winners of the semifinals will play each other a week later.
This solution works for just about everyone. No conference can complain about missing out on the playoff. And teams like UCF and Notre Dame would get a fair chance at the playoff with the sixth spot available.
In too many years, there have always been one or two teams left out, never four. Think about an eight-team playoff. Be honest, do you really think teams like UCF or Michigan would stand a chance versus Alabama or Clemson. No, they wouldn’t. Any extra games would increase the likelihood of star players getting hurt and would likely not draw enough fan support to justify playing. In an eight-game playoff, we would only want to watch the middle four teams play each other in the first round anyway.
Instead, by giving a first-round bye to the top two teams, the first round would be much more competitive. An Ohio State vs. Oklahoma game could be legendary. A Washington vs. Notre Dame game would be, well, just okay.
The advantage, in this six-team playoff, is that the top four teams would be clear following the first round. And more importantly, it would give the PAC-12 an equal opportunity.
The current narrative in college football puts the PAC-12 at the bottom of the pecking order, excluded from the playoff the past two years as well as 2015. Not being included three of the five years hurts the conference in a couple of ways.
For one, the conference would receive more money by being granted a playoff team. Yes, the conference distributed $31 million to its 12 schools last year, but that number was $10 million less than the SEC. At the end of the day, PAC-12 teams saw a little less than $1 million per team compared to its SEC counterparts. That’s no chump change.
Ultimately, adding a playoff team each year would undoubtedly help close the gap between the PAC-12 and the SEC. Why? Because money solves the problem. It allows schools update facilities, such as stadiums and locker rooms, which ultimately might help recruiting.
Recruiting needs money. Flying from Oregon to Alabama is a difficult trip. I’m willing to bet there are no direct flights, and in some cases, coaches might need to make two layovers to get somewhere across the country. That’d be an expensive flight, and playoff money would help coaches fly across the country much easier.
Getting to recruits is one thing, but convincing them is another. High profile recruits want a chance to win a championship and make a name for themselves on a national stage, something PAC-12 coaches cannot currently pitch with the current CFB Playoff atmosphere. A one loss PAC-12 champion wouldn’t jump any other conference champion. A one loss Washington State, for example, was the conference’s last chance at making the playoff midway through the year, and writers realized it would still take a miracle for them to make it.
With an automatic bid, coaches can pitch recruits with a simple spiel: we are going to win the conference championship and make the playoffs. Heck, that’s the same pitch that the four other power five conferences must give. The PAC-12 should be allowed to give it as well.
This pitch might help the PAC-12 bring in better recruits. Instead of only getting one team with a top ten class, maybe the PAC-12 can get two or three teams with a top ten class, just like the SEC.
The PAC-12 has a lot of issues. Not consistently making the playoffs is just one, but an issue that has a trigger effect down to recruiting. So I pitch the CFB committee to make a six-team playoff and end conference bias. Don’t put in eight teams, not 16, or 32. Put in six.
Do I think anybody on the committee will ever read this article and make a push for six teams? No, but it’s worth a shot.