The Real College Football Playoff

The good news is we get our first college football playoff this year. The bad news is it’s still a bit imperfect. I can’t seem to find my playoff plan on the internet anymore so I’ll give a quick summary here.

I think college basketball has it mostly right. Conference champions deserve a shot, no matter the conference. In general, if you’re a conference champion you’re a winner. Previously I’ve been a support of 16 teams, but with the total number of conferences down to 10, I’m open to a 12 team playoff. I’m going to frame out what both scenarios would look like.

Conference Champions

First things first, let’s look at who is getting the automatic bids into our tournament.

Big XIIBaylor
Big TenOhio State
Conference USAMarshall
MACNorthern Illinois
Mountain WestBoise State
Pac 12Oregon
Sun BeltGeorgia Southern

At Large Spots

So we’ve got 10 conference champions that leaves us 2 or 6 at large spots, depending on the playoff format.

Top At-Large Teams TCU, Michigan State, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arizona, Mississippi, Georgia, UCLA

So let’s just rank the top teams here. There’s a lot of debate to be made here, and my goal isn’t to determine the absolute best field but to show off the format. So forgive me if you think my at large picks are dumb

  1. TCU
  2. Michigan State
  3. Kansas State
  4. Mississippi
  5. Mississippi State
  6. Arizona

TCU and Michigan State are easy. Both teams’ only losses are to teams already in the field. Honestly think Mississippi State had a better season than Ole Miss, but that head to head gives Ole Miss the edge. Both had great seasons in a tough conference.

Kansas State might be the best three loss team in the country. Two losses to top Big XII teams in the field and a close home loss to Auburn. I’m putting them third, partly because they deserve it and partly for better 16 team match ups. Arizona sneaks in despite the rough showing in the Pac 12 title game.

Ranking the Field

So that gives us our field of 12 to 16 teams. Let’s rank all 16 top to bottom. (again these are my rankings and I’m sure many will disagree)

16 Team12 Team
1. Alabama1. Alabama
2. Oregon2. Oregon
3. Florida State3. Florida State
4. Ohio State4. Ohio State
5. Baylor5. Baylor
6. TCU6. TCU
7. Michigan State7. Michigan State
8. Kansas State8. Boise State
9. Mississippi9. Marshall
10. Mississippi State10. Northern Illinois
11. Arizona11. Memphis
12. Boise State12. Georgia Southern
13. Marshall
14. Northern Illinois
15. Memphis
16. Georgia Southern

The Brackets

16 Team

12 Team


With the number of conferences down to 10, I think I’m changing my tune a little this year. I’d really prefer the 12 team playoff. I imagine we won’t see any new FBS conferences anytime soon so it’s a safe bet for the future. And I think it creates more competitive first round matchups.

Both formats it would likely mean a reduction in the number of regular season games. I think at least one game would have to be dropped off, but maybe two. Frankly this is my biggest concern, because losing those games could be tough financiallly on a lot of teams. Hopefully a profit share of the playoff games could compensate for that.

So if you dropped off a game, then you would play two rounds at school sites before Christmas and two rounds at neutral site after New Years. There are a lot of logisitics to work out, but rewarding the conference champions will make for a fantastic playoff.