If you ask me, there’s nothing like college football. Unfortunately, there is one major problem impacting the great sport: the lack of a sufficient playoff system. In the past, National Champions were determined by simply taking the two highest ranked teams, and having them play each other. This arbitrary selection process resulted in numerous lopsided Title games, plenty of questionable champions, and a handful of years where a deserving team was left out of the big game. While the new system (4-team playoff of the highest ranked teams) has helped to mitigate this issue, it certainly has not solved. The good news is that there is a better way. Believe it or not, we can elect a champion in a less subjective way, without harming the player. Here’s the idea:
- 8-team playoff system
- Automatic Bids given to the champion of the 5 Power Conferences (i.e. SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC)
- At Large bids given to the next 3 highest ranked teams, regardless of conference
- Top four seeds host a quarterfinal match-up
- Semi’s and title game played at rotating BCS Bowl game sites
Now, before you interject and complain about a diluted regular season, I have a counterargument for that as well. We all know that the regular season is what differentiates college football from other sports leagues. The fear that many have with extended playoff proposals is the implications that it can have on the regular season. Many feel that if we extend the playoff and invite more teams, the regular season will lose some of its importance. My counterargument to this is simple: By guaranteeing a spot to the champion of each Power 5 conference, I would argue that the regular season is even more important than before. While winning your conference currently gives you bragging rights, the new system would award you with a spot in the big tournament. What about the teams from smaller conferences? Well, while the current system allows a smaller team to finish 13-0 or 12-1 and miss the playoffs, the new system would make it very unlikely to miss the tournament after winning 12 or 13 games (given that no major conference’s champion will be fighting for the three at-large bids).
Another major argument that you may be thinking: why should we force young, developing student-athletes to play a longer season? Well, there’s a solution to this as well. As great as the college football regular season is, there is one major weakness: the non-conference season. For many major football programs, the non-conference schedule represents nothing more than a preseason, as they fill the schedule with teams like Louisiana Lafayette, North Texas, and We Don’t Belong Here High School. Why should this portion of the season last three games?! Instead, eliminating one game from the non-conference schedule, therefore decreasing the season by one game. This would allow the eventual national champion to play the same amount of games as they would have played in the previous system, while also saving fans from a boring 3rd non-conference game.
In conclusion, this proposed system adds value to the regular season, while ensuring that the champion earns their title. The national champion should not be determined based on opinion. Instead, it should be determined on the field.
– Corey Lawson