We talked this morning about how the creation of terms like “group of five” and the lean into them by the media, and the use of deeply flawed metrics like strength of schedule have created an extremely lopsided playing field.
This playing field now means that even a highly respected Group of Five team going undefeated two years in a row isn’t enough for a playoff invite, so what has to happen in order to give our teams an actual opportunity to prove themselves on a national stage?
Increase the size of the door
How do you create an opportunity where there is none? UCF tried winning all of their games and promoting the hell out of themselves, and it got a mix of cheers and jeers.
It created a year-long conversation that maybe one day leads to an expanded playoff, but it did little to improve their opportunities in the short term.
I’m a big proponent of expansion of the existing playoff. Four teams is far too small. Sixty-eight is far too big, so how do you decide on what works?
Giving auto bids out like they’re going out of style won’t work. Nor will an expansion that causes massive reconfiguring of the postseason schedule to accommodate the new format.
Your best bet to achieve change and progress is for it to appease as many parties as possible.
Don’t expand it from “almost nobody” to “almost everybody”. Don’t make it a free-for-all rooted in subjective rankings, but don’t bake in so many guarantees that they’ll start conflicting with each other.
Giving every conference champion an auto-bid like the old days of the BCS is not the answer. We don’t need more auto-bids with an asterisk like 1999 UConn.
This is why we advocate for a 12-team College Football Playoff with a “four plus two” system. There are six spots for conference champions – the four highest-ranked P5 champs and the two highest-ranked G5 champs. There are also six at-large bids, and two of those are also held for G5 teams.
This achieves a nice balance. It doubles the potential opportunities for the Power Five teams and guarantees that at least 1/3 of the teams in the playoffs are from the Group of Five.
What about scheduling? This would take a bit of work, but we could still fit it within the existing bowl season schedule. The New Year’s Six bowls would remain as they are, but the bowls that are currently outside the CFP semifinal and title game would become the quarterfinal bowl games.
We would also need four more first-round bowl games, which could probably include “middle tier” games like the Citrus Bowl, or some other type of rotation that runs parallel to the NY6 bowls.
The first round of bowl games – to decide who faces each of the four top seeds – would have occurred on December 15th this year, the first Saturday of this past bowl season. The quarterfinals would have been on December 22nd, with the semifinals and national championship still occurring on December 29th and January 7th as they have been.
This would require a bit more work for some teams, obviously. A top-four team would need to win three times instead of twice for a national championship, and anyone else would need to win four times.
Does that extend their season by three games over the current process? Yes it does, but I imagine they might be willing to trade that for an actual, realistic shot at a national championship.
The top teams would likely push back at the notion of one additional game, but they would still have several weeks of prep before their first playoff matchup, a good chunk of time to prep and get healthy.
Let’s talk playoff scenario, then
Also, I don’t really care if the Power 5 teams want to complain. So what would such a playoff have looked like this season?
Well, your six conference champions who would have locked in playoff spots would be Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, UCF, and Fresno State.
As for your at-large bids, we felt it reasonable to ignore any three-loss teams or teams that didn’t at least play for their conference championship. That gave us Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Boise State, Army and Appalachian State.
Army is the only team that doesn’t meet the conference title game criteria, but they don’t have one and they were ranked in both non-CFP polls at the end of the regular season. Washington State and Utah State are our two teams that just miss out for going 11-2 but not even winning their division.
Here’s your seeding for the 2018 Forgotten5 College Football Playoff:
- Ohio State
- Fresno State
- Notre Dame
- Boise State
- Appalachian State
I like this setup. It’s unfortunate that the Pac-12 still gets left out but like our friend Jim Alexander the record matters, and they were the lowest ranked conference once Washington State faltered.
It’s also a bummer to me that UAB will miss out, but we’ll consider it punishment for that loss to Coastal Carolina.
Your first-round matchups are Appalachian State at Ohio State, Army at Fresno State, Boise State at Notre Dame, and Georgia at Michigan. I’m giving those victories to UCF, Army, Notre Dame, and Georgia.
As a result, your quarterfinal matchups are Army at Alabama, Georgia at Clemson, Notre Dame at Oklahoma and Ohio State at UCF. I’m giving the wins to Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, and UCF.
This means your semifinals are (oh hey, look) UCF vs Alabama and Oklahoma vs Clemson. I think this UCF still fades late against Alabama, and Oklahoma struggles just as much against Clemson as they did against Alabama.
Does this result in yet another Alabama vs Clemson national championship? Of course. Let’s not pretend like they weren’t very clearly the two best teams this season.
That said, multiple Group of Five teams get the kind of bigger payouts (for themselves and their conferences) that come from these games, and maybe even a chance for another upset for the right teams.
An imbalance exists in college football and the easiest way to take an early step towards making a difference and making the whole season more interesting