College Hoops has way too many teams in the playoffs and College football doesn’t have enough. There has to be some middle ground, right? However, there’s not many that would argue for a change when it comes to March Madness. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But the college football playoffs? There’s a system in need of tweaking.
When the NCAA started the college football playoff system in 2014, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the tournament and for good reason. The naming of a national champ by way of a top 25 poll was absolutely insane. If that were any other league this would have been fixed years ago. Take the NFL for example; after week 17 Kansas City and San Fransisco have the best records so we’ll forgo a chance of a crazy upset or a Tom Brady playoff performance and pit the two best records against one another. Leave it to the NCAA to keep in place an archaic method that was not only outdated, it was confusing. Before the creation of the national championship game it was even worse; it would be like saying the 49ers have the best record/best strength of schedule so therefore….they are the champs. To say it takes the NCAA a while to catch up with today’s sports fans is an understatement. But why am I complaining as they finally got it right. We have 4 playoff teams. So a top 25 poll that once decided the best college football team (or teams in the case of CU’s shared title) then later the top 2 teams now decides the top 4 teams in the country who will get a crack at glory and fame. They are so close.
Surely they knew once they gave us a real taste of playoffs, a real taste of the excitement a playoff system brings, we would only want more. And now it’s time. Every conference needs to have a representative and to make those power 5 conferences happy we allow 4 at large bids from the big boys. So the winner of the Mountain West (stop with the championship games, just crown the best record) would be in the first round against, say, the winner of the Pac 12. Boise State vs. Oregon. Now the Boise State’s and the Central Florida’s of the world have a REAL shot at a title.
I know there would be a lot more to it then simply adding 10 conference champs, and 4 at large bids but the concept would make sense. The seeding would take some time and serious consideration but the idea of letting teams that win their conference play in a playoff system is the best route, ultimately, when it comes to putting the best product together. After all, why have all these teams in the FBS if they can’t actually compete for a title? College hoops might realistically only have a dozen or so contenders each year but that doesn’t stop Florida Gulf Coast or the University of Northern Colorado from getting a shot. There’s MANY counters to my argument but below is a short list of what this discussion typically boils down to:
- The NCAA would never give up the money they are making from the bowl games. They don’t have to give up anything. The playoff games would all be bowl games. Sure, we’d have less bowl games (currently there are 40) but the games would pack more of a punch. I’m suggesting about 14 games (7 in the first round, 4 in the second, 2 in the semifinals and a title game). Wouldn’t it be fair to ask a bowl sponsor to pay more to make up for the cost of losing 26 meaningless bowl games? 11 playoff/bowl games would have way more meaning than two teams playing each other 2 weeks after the season in random bowl game.
- Why in the world should a conference like the Sun Belt get a representative? The first rounds between power 5 and group of 5 will be a joke. Sure, the first year or so we might have some growing pains, some blowouts. LSU would annihilate Appalachian State. But over time, if I go to a 4/5 star recruit and say something like “would you rather be a backup for 3 years at Bama or come here to Western Michigan, start early, win our conference then get a shot at LSU? We may lose but if you have a solid game on that stage…hello NFL draft.” I would wager that if recruits see a chance at fame in year 1 or 2 as oppose to year 3 or 4 they would consider a group of 5 contender. How many great football players get lost in a depth chart belonging to Alabama or Ohio State? If I know EVERY conference has a shot at a college playoff then maybe I’ll consider my options a bit more carefully. If all these teams are in the FBS, why shouldn’t they all have, at the very least, the same opportunity?
- If the NCAA adds all these playoffs games, it will be unsafe for players as 12 regular season games is already a grind. Does CSU need to play Western Illinois? How about Toledo? That goes for all the FBS. Does Bama have to play a cupcake twice a year? Eliminate 2 of those non-conference games and the conference championship and make way for the greatest post season in all of sports. The REAL college football playoffs.
Again, tons of work needs to be done but the above ideas could make college football SO much better. The NFL is hands down the best product when it comes to sports in America. Their regular season is meaningful while not making 1 game determine the fate of the rest of the year. The playoff hunt is exciting and the tournament itself has some of the best contests of the year. In College football we put way to much emphasis on the regular season. If Oregon loses two then their hopes of winning a title are gone. Under my set up, the Ducks could lose 2 or 3 games but still win their conference and get a crack at winning in the playoffs.
As for the Group of 5 not contending with the power 5 on a regular basis; We see upsets every year. How amazing would those upsets be on the grand stage of a playoff/bowl game? It’s time to take some notes from the NFL and March Madness and give College Football what is deserves: A true playoff system that will provide legendary contests, historic moments and stories we will tell for years to come.
What do the Hullligans think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @bradyhull1