On our recent 5 Tool, Sports CFB recap show, we added a bonus episode (After Further Review), where CJ and I discussed how an eight-team college football playoff format might work. So I decided to put the idea to paper to see what it would look like, and even our eight-team playoff idea brought some controversy. With that, let's go through the parameters of this imaginary college football playoff format.
The Five Power Five Conference Champs Receive Automatic Bids.
#2 Seed Clemson ACC Champ vs. #7 Seed Oregon Pac 12 Champ
Yup, the Oregon Ducks would qualify as the Pac 12 Champion and would be the lowest-seeded power five conference champion (7th). The Ducks would face the number two ranked (2 Seed) and ACC champion Clemson Tigers. Here is where the controversy begins. Oregon is not ranked in the top ten of the College Football Rankings but is in the playoff by default, and because of their lower-ranking, they would be the lowest-seeded power five conference champion.
The Team on the outside looking in, the #7 ranked Florida Gators. Florida had their chance; they lost to Texas A&M in the regular season, fell flat on their face against LSU, and then lost a shoot out to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game.
#3 Seed Big Ten Champ Ohio State vs. #6 Seed Big 12 Champ Oklahoma
The number three ranked Ohio State Buckeyes would take the 3rd seed after winning the Big Ten Championship, and lastly, the Oklahoma Sooners would be the 6th seed, also ranked 6th in the final College Football Playoff poll after winning the Big 12 Championship.
#4 Seed (At Large) Notre Dame vs. #5 Seed (At Large) Texas A&M
Your two at large bids go to the Fighting Irish and the Aggies, leaving the 7th ranked Florida Gators on the outside looking in with the last at large bid designated for the Group of Five Final Four winner.
#1 Seed Alabama vs # 8 Seed (Champion of Group of Five Four Team Playoff).
The already top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide would represent the SEC. Alabama would get a match up with the Group of Five Final Four Champion in a one seed vs. eight seed matchup.
How to decide the Group of Five Final Four Playoff
The way I have it set up is the four highest-ranked group of five teams in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The Group of Five schools might need to begin their season earlier than the power five. It might also be beneficial for them to do away with their traditional conference title games to play their four-team playoff one week before the Power Five Conference championship games. By doing this, the group of five schools could align their four-team playoff championship game on the same weekend as the Power Five conference championship games.
Change Is Innevitable
I believe this format can work and would have been awesome to test out in 2020 due to the circumstances. We are inevitably going to see college football playoff expansion at some point. The current ESPN College Football Playoff broadcasting rights contract runs out in 2026, so we might have to wait until that deal expires for the expansion to happen. Time will tell, but the current format is stale.
Even if the playoff expands to eight teams and we continue to end up with the same 2 or 3 teams in the title game, I see no issue. The current format is nothing more than a glorified Power Five invitational. We must also consider how the new name image and likeness rights might level the playing field as players will earn income. So instead of Alabama piling on the depth, kids will go where they will have the best opportunity to play right away. A lot of change is on the way, and it is long overdue in College Football.