OT: Simple Theoretical CFP System

Submitted by SAM love SWORD on November 7th, 2018 at 8:57 PM

With Michigan finally involved in all the playoff scenarios and hypotheticals starting to pop up this year, I got to thinking about a possible format to eliminate the guesswork and subjectivity. I know the bickering and rankings is something some people love about the college game, but this makes a lot more sense to me.

  • Six team tourney.
  • Each Power Five Conference Champion gets an automatic bid  
  • One Wild Card/At Large bid selected by the Committee.
  • Seeds 1 and 2 get first round byes, 3 plays 6, 4 plays 5.

It eliminates most of the subjective elements in the current system and values Conference Championships. Teams would still be compelled to schedule tough non-conference opponents for sake of seeding/byes and you could even add a home field advantage to the higher seeds if teams needed more incentive for the non-conference schedule.

Is it too simple to be interesting? Do teams that don't win their conference deserve a shot at the National Title? Too similar to the pros?



November 8th, 2018 at 8:47 AM ^

Why is 6 better than 8? Seriously, it’s a single elimination tournament. Number of teams should be a power of 2. 

A bye is way too huge of an advantage for what is almost always going to be an arbitrary, subjective decision between two teams with 0 or 1 loss and few if any common opponents. It will be skewed every year by the huge SEC/ACC bias. 

Getting to play the 8 seed is advantage enough. If they need more, make round 1 at home sites. 


November 8th, 2018 at 9:09 AM ^

6 is better because it gives top teams much more incentive to keep playing for a bye or a higher seed and makes late season games more meaningful. This would be enhanced if first round games were home games for 3 and 4. The goal should always be maximize importance of regular season while making sure all the top teams are in a fair playoff, IMO


November 8th, 2018 at 1:28 PM ^

The end of the season will matter because of the conference championships and the traditional end of year rivalries. You can't tank a game because the margin is pretty thin. Consider Bama - they aren't going to rest starters or anything for the end of the season, because they want a shot at an at-large bid if they lose the SEC championship. That will still be true in an 8 team format.

College will always have a few yawners If you really want "every game to matter", there is much lower hanging fruit. Ban playing FCS teams for one. Declare Rutger an FCS team for two. And giving teams a bye makes the playoff less competitive by giving a huge advantage to the top two.


November 8th, 2018 at 8:45 PM ^

Bama would absolutely get an at-large bid in an 8-team playoff if their only loss is to Georgia in the SEC Championship. Didn't Oklahoma lose their conference championship game and still finish top 2 in the BCS? I'd be curious about the 7 teams you think are getting in over a 12-1 Alabama team.


November 8th, 2018 at 10:42 AM ^

Perfectly said. I've posted the same thing for a while now, on another board. It works in the NFL because there are only 32 teams, much more schedule parity, more structure, etc. One team isn't playing all NFL teams while another, looking at you SEC, plays practice squads like the Citadel. The theoretical NFL schedule balance allows the reward of bye weeks.

In college there is way too much variance in terms of conference schedules, out of conference schedules, etc to give the massive advantage of a bye. Let's pretend Alabama, Clemson, and ND (yuck) all end up undefeated this year with a 6-team playoff system. So Alabama and Clemson get byes and ND not getting the bye would be very unfair. On top of that the fact that it truly is a subjective decision would make it a mess.

8 team playoff with the top 4 seeds getting home field is the correct answer.

UP to LA

November 7th, 2018 at 9:05 PM ^

One problem is that it would tend to devalue non-conference games, as these would have little bearing on a team's title chances. I could see this working in different directions with respect to scheduling -- teams might schedule more cupcakes as glorified scrimmages to tune up before conference play, or they might schedule more power teams since the downside risk doesn't matter. But either way, the intensity of non-conference games would probably take a hit.


November 7th, 2018 at 9:25 PM ^

I see it from another perspective. Wouldn’t you want to have a strong non conference schedule? If you don’t win your conference you’d want the best non conference wins in the country. That’s the only way to get the selected bid. As well, you could lose all your non conference games against the good opponents you schedule as long as you still win your conference. This six team playoff is a no brainer to me

Mr Miggle

November 7th, 2018 at 9:32 PM ^

Maybe those non-conference games should have less impact. That's a return to the old days, when the big bowl games were mostly between conference champions. Those games still mean a fair amount, with a wildcard and byes up for grabs.

One thing I like about this proposal is that it gives schools more freedom to schedule who they like. Extra home games, traditional rivals, extra tough opponents, whatever. Too many of these playoff proposals force lots of change to make the system neater. This could actually get approved by the schools.




November 7th, 2018 at 9:51 PM ^

I don't agree on the non-conference schedule weakness point.  You would want a strong non-conference schedule because you don't get penalized if you win the Conference and you get a benefit if you want a chance to be the  2nd team from a Conference as an at large selection.  It's really a no lose situation if you lose out of conference and provides incentive for better out of conference scheduling.

In fact that is the caveat that I would add.  To be an at large team you would be evaluated based on non conference scheduling.  That way conference bias would not impact the selection and it would force SEC teams to schedule more competitive non-conference games.


November 7th, 2018 at 9:06 PM ^

I’ve said before that I’d like to see 4 super conferences of 20 teams each, with two divisions of 10 teams per conference. You play round robin so 9 games in conference. The winner of each division plays the other. The 4 winners go to a playoff with 2 “losers” going as well, picked by committee with good nonconf wins worth something.


edit: our division would be essentially the original Big Ten. Can still play rivals in nonconf schedule with incentive to have tough opponents.


November 7th, 2018 at 9:06 PM ^

I think if you're going to give each power 5 conference an automatic bid you have to go to 8 teams.  What if Northwestern beats Michigan and Pitt beats Clemson in the conference championship games?  They'd get automatic bids, and one of Michigan and Clemson would get left out.

Arb lover

November 7th, 2018 at 9:33 PM ^

But when has Michigan Underplayed in the playoffs? We tend to show up, unlike little bro (yes I know we are talking about Football). That is the tradeoff with an expanded/more final type end of year win- is that it's single elimination. That said, the idea is that your team has improved over the course of the year, and the "best team" is the team that is best (through improvements and hard work and great coaching) at the end of the year, not the team that showed up August 31st just torching non P5 opponents with their 5stars. 

I'd be okay with that. 


November 7th, 2018 at 9:08 PM ^

At large needs to be the top ranked group of 5 conference champion. If these teams are in the same subdivision, they need at least a sliver of a shot. Winning your conference is an absolute must. So your conference and you are in. If 7-5 Virginia wins their conference they get in, and the loser of Alabama Georgia doesn’t.

WIN YOUR CONFERENCE if you are power 5 team, and be the best group of 5 team and you are in


November 7th, 2018 at 9:08 PM ^

All 0 and 1 loss FBS teams get in period, power 5 or not. First round byes as required if the number of eligible teams isn't a power of 2. The UCFs of the world want a crack at Bama, let them have it.


November 7th, 2018 at 9:12 PM ^

No team in college football deserves a bye.  There is too much hand waving with rankings to reward a 1 or 2 seed that much more than the other seeds.

I've always preferred the 8 team playoff format.  5 conference champs.  3 at large, with one of those at large generally geared toward a non-power 5 team (but not required).  Home field advantage for higher seeds until the championship game.  Simple as that.

Voltron Blue

November 7th, 2018 at 9:16 PM ^

Herr Leader's (Brian's) system is very similar to this as well, esp when including home field at least in the first round.  So your idea is def not original, but I do like it.  I especially appreciate how there's an incentive to be 1 or 2 (bye), there's an incentive to be 3 or 4 (home field), and there's an incentive to be 5 or 6 (get in the playoff), so it all matters.  


November 7th, 2018 at 9:16 PM ^

Will never fly as there is a Catholic school in Indiana that is semi committed to conference far, far away from Indiana which would bitch to no end about their 16% chance of making it into this scenario. From there it now involves a major TV network with legitimate political pull to take a big poo on this format. I’ll spare everyone the Mormon school in Utah ramble.


November 7th, 2018 at 9:19 PM ^

If ND makes the cut this year, they will immediately change it to an 8 team playoff. Somethings got to give. Either ND gets boned and joins a conference, or they change the system to accommodate them and not have others screaming about their conference champ not getting in. 


November 7th, 2018 at 9:33 PM ^

There is very little pressure on the NCAA to change the format so long as people are tuning in and sponsors are happy. They are not scrapping this format for something new for at least several more years. It took them years to get rid of the BCS even after a season ended with three undefeated teams. 

Picktown GoBlue

November 8th, 2018 at 2:36 AM ^

The Div. IA playoffs do not belong to the NCAA.  Only sport of the NCAA where they do not control their own championship.  In my mind, NCAA should take it and make the size proportional to the number of teams in the division,l


  4 is way too small.  And dump all the bowls while they're at it.

Div III: 32 out of 250 (12.8%)

Div II: 28 out of 167 (15.7%)

Div IAA: 24 out of 125 (19.2%)

Div IA: 4 out of 130 in playoffs (3.1%) although 78 are in bowls (60%)


November 8th, 2018 at 4:42 AM ^

I've long thought a 24-team playoff is the correct size.  In my ideal world, there are objective criteria, but in the real world, it's probably 12 conference champions and 12 at-large bids, selected and seeded by the type of committee that would use the RPI.  (Yes, there are only 10 conferences now, but I'd expect 2 to be formed once it became obvious that the G5 conferences should divest teams in order to get additional automatic spots).

If they want to have 25 other bowl games, fine.  There are 3 smaller end-of-season basketball tournaments and the world doesn't end.


November 8th, 2018 at 9:59 AM ^

You guys are both dead wrong.  I understand this is a subjective opinion, but your idea would ruin CFB.  If a 3 or 4 loss team could make the playoffs, the regular season would flat out suck.  There is a special angst that comes with being a CFB fan.  And that is any given Saturday, if the team falters, it may be over.  That means that every game is huge.  I would HATE to have a system where a large number of the teams make the playoffs.


November 7th, 2018 at 9:26 PM ^

This would be better than our current system. I am still in favor of an 8-team playoff. Top 4 teams get home field advantage the first game. The final 4 then carries out the current system utilizing the specific bowls (Rose, cotton, fiesta, etc.)

Durham Blue

November 7th, 2018 at 9:43 PM ^

Agreed but I favor neutral fields for all playoff games.  And they should all be domed or in nice weather spots to avoid the elements raising questions.  Gotta make this as even Steven as possible.  And the domed fields give the northern parts of the country an opportunity to host games, for a change -- Ford Field, Indy, Minneapolis, etc.


November 8th, 2018 at 8:05 AM ^

I swear some of you have never competed...you could not be more wrong. Get rid of the stupid conference championship games. Go to a conference schedule that makes the top 6 teams from the previous year play each other-in all conferences. Have each conference pick their entry...a committee picks the at large entries. Take the human bias out of the equation-as much as is feasible...it should be at least 8-preferably 16. As usual, Harbaugh has it correct. 


November 7th, 2018 at 9:29 PM ^

Get on the horn immediately, and let Gene Smith, along w the whole band of misfits on the playoff committee know about this!! Tell em its HAPPENING, or else Bruno Laredo is coming after them all!!


November 7th, 2018 at 9:31 PM ^

I loveit  and more often than not there are two teams that standout. They would get a good advantage and hopefully those two would be conference champions that played a tough schedule. My only worry is this sets up to permanently give the SEC 1/3 of the field with 2 teams getting in every year.  

For example If you take your second loss by 29 at home I dont care who you are you go behind every 1 loss power 5 team. 

Penn state took their FIRST loss to a top 3 team in a close game and they fell several spots. If a loss to Bama is just the same as having a bye week how convenient will that be for the 8 SEC teams they play?