WE NEED EIGHT: Southern Pigskin Article On Expanding the Playoffs
Posted: 05 December 2018 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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BJ Bennett posted this Article on expanding the playoffs and I thought I would post it to toss his thoughts around:

Adding a few more teams into the fold wouldn’t lessen the significance of the regular season, it would enhance it.

The transition from voting for a national championship to playing for one was both monumental and modest alike. While, groundbreaking, yes, the introduction of the four-team College Football Playoff was the first step towards advancement, not the final push. Each week of the season should show us why. Though an obvious improvement over the previous system, and credit and thanks should be given for that, the playoff is not representative of all of the Power Five conferences, much less every Division I FBS program, and lacks consistency.

Simply put, the format doesn’t fit.

Principally-speaking, the idea of comparing and contrasting resumes is a worthy one in the selection process, just not when it is the only evaluator at hand. Arbitrary interpretation, once a threshold of relevancy is met, is today’s standard, a notion, in actuality, not all that different from generations prior. What we currently have should always be appreciated as the beginning, and maybe it was designed that way, but college football deserves better. Even in an era of wide-ranging differences, some part of the process has to be streamlined. The postseason needs more clarity, and given the scope of the game’s affiliated members, more teams.

Debuting in 2014, the College Football Playoff was was agent of a new era; it can continue to push for change, not just react to it.

An 8-team field, rewarding conference champions, including at-large bids and mandating the inclusion of, as currently constituted, at least one Group of Five program would promote growth while stabilizing some of the vagueness and volatility that consumes the sport today. All five P5 leagues would have their conference winner advance, the two highest-ranked at-large teams would additionally earn a berth and the highest-rated G5 team would also clinch. All parties and perspectives would be accounted for. It’s not quite standardized, but it’s a start. 

Seeding, one through eight, would incorporate records and strength of schedules, with quarterfinal pairings being played at the home venue of the higher-slotted team. This design comes with a simple starting point for all P5 teams, win your league and you are automatically in, but recognizes the challenges that come with such competition through extra bids, slotting and scheduling and, at least theoretically, has an an avenue for entry for every G5 team. As is the case now, legacy bowls could still be incorporated and there still would be an element, a more controlled amount, of conjecture and discussion.

Given the above parameters, here would be an example of what this season’s field could look like;

(1) Alabama
(8) Washington

(4) Oklahoma
(5) Georgia

(3) Notre Dame
(6) Ohio State

(2) Clemson
(7) Central Florida

The aforementioned games would be played in Tuscaloosa, Norman, South Bend and Clemson, an important notation.

Ultimately, such a system would shape college football. The format might push Notre Dame into a conference, given the more easily-identifiable path to the playoff. From more high-profile non-conference pairings to an expanded profile for so-called mid-majors, a natural recalibration would follow. A healthier, more equitable structure would develop as a byproduct. More-diverse matchups and a more-dynamic postseason awaits.

Adding a few more teams into the fold wouldn’t lessen the significance of the regular season, it would enhance it. Much like the implementation of the wild card has added more energy to the stretch run of the professional ranks, the concept of an expanded pool of deserving candidates means more meaningful games. Throughout this past November, how many college football games were actually consequential in terms of the national championship? Increase that number some, increase the drama significantly.

To a certain extent, the idea of every game mattering is already a myth. Very few singular games matter, even those that we think do. We have yet to have an undefeated national champion in the College Football Playoff era and last year’s winner, Alabama, didn’t even play in the SEC Championship Game. Two years ago, Clemson fell to Pitt in the final month of the year. The Crimson Tide, in 2015, dropped a division game. In the very first playoff, Ohio State was beaten at home by a six-loss Virginia Tech team by two touchdowns. Oklahoma, in the final four four this fall, lost its most important contest of the regular season.

For those who question the logistics of an expanded event, the FCS and Division II Playoffs both have 24 teams and the Division III tournament has 32. That range shouldn’t be the goal and perhaps the deliberate nature of incremental advancement has always been the more rational route to go. We’re now ready for that next step.

Already, FBS college football has outgrown its postseason structure. From the start, though arguably how it had to happen, the measurements were off. It’s time for a format that reflects the system it serves. There continue to be plenty of questions around the College Football Playoff and how a national champion is crowned; the answer is an eight-team field.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Here are a few things I disagree with respectfully:

I am generally against expanding at all but I am addressing things about an 8 game playoff in general should we go that way.

1:  I am against automatic bids for conference champs.  It will promote them to water-down their non-conference schedule with cupcakes.  Right now, the current model makes every game matter and who you play in non-conference play matters.

2.  I don’t think automatic bids for group of 5 schools should exist either.  IMO, this is a form of affirmative action and I don’t like social promotions.  If a G5 school has the resume so be it, but just because they are the best group of 5 school just isn’t enough.  This is the same type of thing that would lead P5 schools to schedule weak in non-conference play.  What advantage is their to schedule strong in non-conference play? The goal should be to have the best 8 teams in the tournament regardless of their conference.

NOTE:  Seeding in this tourney is the only advantage I see to scheduling stronger.  But for many just making the playoffs will be enough and won’t care and the fans get watered-down match ups.


The current model is very close to getting it right.  4 team playoffs makes every game count. 8 games will allow 2 and 3 loss teams in the tournament and suddenly we have a system looking more and more like the NFL model which I despise like many fans.

I think at the very most either a 5 game model which 4-5 is a “play-in” game or maybe a 6 game play off with the top 2 teams getting a first round bye is as far as we need to go.  This would still protect the integrity of playing a strong non-conference schedule.  I also think there is a pretty big drop-off in talent when we get past the 6th ranked team and we just don’t need 8 teams.

The minute a model gets implemented where an 8-4 conference champ can get in because they scheduled weak in non-conference play is when the playoffs become meaningless.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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BJ and I are going to duke it out in the alley next time we’re together.

Kidding (probably).

Mostly agree with what CUT4L laid out. Don’t like automatic bids. Don’t like expansion.

The only team I felt like probably deserved a shot was TCU in 2014, which went 11-1 and lost by three on the road to an 11-1 Baylor team (who got blown out at 7-5 WVU for its loss). Played 10 Power Five teams, including an 8-4 Big Ten team that they demolished. I thought they showed up every week and unfortunately they were left out. Can blame that on the Big 12 for not having a title game and/or refusing to declare a champion.

Other than that, I haven’t felt bad for any No. 5. The last three No. 5s have lost games by 39 points, 31 points, and 20 points. Play better if you want a shot at the title.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Matt, you are spot on about TCU.  But the Big 12 adapted to better position themselves for the playoffs by adding a conference title game rather than trying to change the playoffs.  That year I still think they were as deserving then as a 12 win Notre Dame who ironically is also #3 like TCU was but the Hornfrogs dropped 3 spaces I think in the final poll.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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My 2 biggest complaints about expanding the playoffs is the safety of the student athletes playing an extra game and watering down the NY6 bowl games even more. If the best 8 teams are in the playoffs, then that leaves 9-16 playing in the Rose, Orange, etc.

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Posted: 05 December 2018 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I don’t like automatic bids either and really don’t see a need for expansion, certainly not beyond 8. Whatever you expand to, there will be teams that just miss it and think they should’ve been selected. It happens with the huge NCAA basketball tournament. When you get out to to a certain number, you get to teams that really aren’t deserving and really aren’t on the same level as the top 4.

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Posted: 09 December 2018 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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BJ is completely wrong. Worst idea perhaps ever other than (perhaps) IPA beer and having Swafford as the ACC Commissioner.

I agree no automatic bids but anything beyond four does a disservice to college football.

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Posted: 09 December 2018 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I wonder if Matt beat him up in the Alley…LOL

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Posted: 11 December 2018 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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While I am in favor keeping the playoffs close to where they are, I have been taking the devils advocate side to talk about the positives of an expanded playoffs.  I have some good points that I have been picking up from the talking heads in the media and the fan boards.  I am speaking of a really big expansion of 8-16 teams and you will see why in a second:


1.  Ending the Bowls once and for all…I have been holding on to this sentiment for a long time and that is why in part I like smaller playoffs.  I also have grown sick of too many meaningless bowls against 6 win teams. If you expand 8-16 teams I don’t see how the Bowls can be maintained.  Early rounds will be played on the home field of the higher ranked team. 

If you are going to expand the playoffs then doing it is such away to eliminate most of the bowls. 

Hell, you could have an “NIT” type playoff for those teams that didn’t make the dance…Why not?  That would put the bowls down once and for all.

2.  Playoffs would reduce players leaving early for the NFL.  Instead of skipping the post season, I imagine in a 16 team format a lot of guys would feel the pressure to stay with the team rather than skip a chance to participate in a playoff.

I still like the 4 game format but wanted to throw that out there for the heck of it.

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Posted: 11 December 2018 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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CU_Tigers4life - 11 December 2018 12:11 PM

While I am in favor keeping the playoffs close to where they are, I have been taking the devils advocate side to talk about the positives of an expanded playoffs.  I have some good points that I have been picking up from the talking heads in the media and the fan boards.  I am speaking of a really big expansion of 8-16 teams and you will see why in a second:


1.  Ending the Bowls once and for all…I have been holding on to this sentiment for a long time and that is why in part I like smaller playoffs.  I also have grown sick of too many meaningless bowls against 6 win teams. If you expand 8-16 teams I don’t see how the Bowls can be maintained.  Early rounds will be played on the home field of the higher ranked team. 

If you are going to expand the playoffs then doing it is such away to eliminate most of the bowls. 

Hell, you could have an “NIT” type playoff for those teams that didn’t make the dance…Why not?  That would put the bowls down once and for all.

2.  Playoffs would reduce players leaving early for the NFL.  Instead of skipping the post season, I imagine in a 16 team format a lot of guys would feel the pressure to stay with the team rather than skip a chance to participate in a playoff.

I still like the 4 game format but wanted to throw that out there for the heck of it.

Not bad. Maybe have a secondary academic playoff to the 8 teams with the highest gpa and graduation rate. Perhaps the only other requirement to qualify for this playoff is that you need a winning record at the end of the regular season. It would be a nice reward for those schools with real student athletes.

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