Solving College Football’s Playoff Problem

The great thing about modern American sport is that debates are settled on the field. It’s why we watch.  There’s a winner and a loser, with each team controlling their own destiny with every turn of the calendar year. Sports have become the ultimate form of reality TV.

One sport, however, settles debates via committee discussion of biased criteria behind closed doors.  In this sport, more than half the teams are eliminated from championship contention before a single game is played.  College football is flawed, and the system in place for determining a champion is a total farce.

The NCAA has finally progressed towards a playoff system. The new system is certainly better than no system, but it still leaves too many teams out of consideration and decides teams’ respective fates with words and opinions rather than with running, blocking, and tackling. It’s time to revamp the college football playoff.

I’ve given a lot of thought to the best way to structure a playoff. There will undoubtedly be logistical challenges regardless of the structure, but there will always be growing pains when change is adopted.  My main objective was to create a system in which every single Division 1 team starts the season controlling their own destiny.  The most effective way to accomplish this is by awarding playoff status through conference championships.  Several bonuses arise with this new model. First, because the initial step towards qualifying for the playoffs is qualifying for your conference championship game, the number of teams still alive for a title late in the season will be imminently more robust than it is now.  This means the number of regular season games being played with playoff implications will grow exponentially.

I’ve outlined my plan below, but I’ll try to summarize the key points here.  First, the five NON power conference champs will be placed in a bracket. This bracket will be rounded out with one wild card team. This slot is open to every team in the country. The highest ranked non-conference champion (including independents) will be awarded the wild card.  This bracket of six will play down to three, and be integrated with the main bracket consisting of five power conference champs. Now we have a field of eight, and will play down to a winner.


Non-Power-Five + Wild Card (Seed 1 Thru 6)

  • American Athletic
  • Conference USA
  • Mid-American
  • Mountain West
  • Sun Belt
  • Wild Card

Power-Five (Seed 1 Thru 5)

  • ACC
  • Big Ten
  • SEC
  • Big 12
  • PAC 12


Saturday Night, December 8th
Non-power-five “play-in” games

  • 3 non-power-five “play-in” games
    • 1vs6, 2vs5, 3vs4 played simultaneously (8:00pm)
      • Winners in these games are moved into main bracket, and seeded six thru eight

Saturday December 22nd (Quadruple header – noon, 3:30, 7, 10:30)
Quarter Finals

  • 1vs8, 2vs7, 3vs6, 4vs5


Semi-finals January 1st

  • Double Header (4:30pm, 8:30pm)


National Championship Jan 14th

  • 8:30 pm




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