Time for an 8-Team College Football Playoff of Conference Champs
Another college football "champion" has been crowned.
Alabama wasn't good enough to win their own conference, but they were just named national champions for beating a team from their conference.
Isn't it time we fixed this mess?
Who gets into the College Football Playoffs and who doesn't comes down to the CFP Selection Committee. Reputation often matters more than record. It's all politics.
This year, the committee said the SEC was the best conference. They said the SEC was so great they deserved two teams in the CFP. They said the Big Ten was not strong. They said an undefeated University of Central Florida wasn't good enough.
They were wrong about all of it.
The CFP Selection Committee has no idea what they are doing.
The college football playoffs should take the focus off of voters, polls and committees and leave it up to the players on the field. Limiting the CFP to teams which have won their conference would help. Expanding the CFP to eight teams would help too.
Why not do both?
So Alabama would sit out while MAC champion Toledo gets a playoff berth?
This is the same dynamic that we see in the NCAA basketball tournament. Small conference champs get in, while allegedly better major conference teams are left out. It's just less noticeable because the field is much bigger.
Don't like it? Then win your conference. Simple.
Conference championships have lost steam in recent years as the excitement around them is replaced by CFP chatter. This change would make conference championships bigger than they have ever been by making them an extension of the CFP.
Requiring CFP teams to be conference champions would also eliminate the unfair advantage the SEC has built for itself by playing only an eight-game conference schedule while others are playing nine games. The eight game schedule means one extra easy non-conference game for the SEC while others are playing important conference games. If all that matters is the conference champion, it doesn't really matter how each conference decides to crown their champ.
The CFP Selection Committee would still have plenty of input. Seeding the top eight conference winners makes a big difference. What happens when a four-loss team from a weak division in a Power Five conference gets the upset win in the conference championship? Where do they get seeded? Do they even make it in?
We'd see some blowouts in the first round as the top seeds play the bottom seeds, but it would still be fun. Small schools would get time in the national spotlight just like we see in basketball when they pull off an upset or two. In football, just getting in the playoff would provide exposure and Cinderella stories. It would likely do wonders for recruiting at smaller conferences too.
Here's what an eight-team playoff of conference champions could have looked like this year using an AP poll as a guide:
- Clemson (ACC)
- Oklahoma (Big 12)
- Georgia (SEC)
- Ohio State (Big Ten)
- USC (Pac-12)
- UCF (American)
- Boise State (Mountain West)
- Toledo (MAC)
And STILL some controversy as Conference USA champs Florida Atlantic University get beat out by Toledo despite a solid season and a handful of votes in the AP poll.
Sorry to the independents Notre Dame, Army, Massachusetts and BYU. You are welcome to win all of your regular season games and land a big bowl game, but you'll never be invited to the playoff unless you join a conference and win it. It's up to you.
An eight-team playoff of only conference champions would be great for college football. Let's make conference championships great again.