It’s pretty apparent that it’s time for a change in the way the college football postseason works. For anyone who still believes that the Coaches poll is still a legitimate ranking system, grow up. Saban and the Tide only got a shot at the national title because they harshly underrated Oklahoma State, which is absolutely ridiculous. I believe the time has come for a playoff system to be implemented in college football. This process requires three very important steps. First, there must be six major national conferences established with all teams being forced to join a conference. Secondly, the season would be shortened to 11 games. Finally, the six conference champions and two wild card teams will play in an eight-team playoff.
First, six major national conferences must be established. The obvious choices here are to keep the six major conferences in existence now (Big 10, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac 12, Big East), though they would have to be restructured. All of the aforementioned conferences would have 12 slots, making room for 72 major programs eligible to compete for the national championship. The existing teams would then be segmented into the six conferences based on region and talent level. All of the independent teams would be forced to join a conference in order to be eligible to play in the playoff system.
Second, the schedule would have to be reverted back to an eleven game season with a conference championship and a two-week playoff leading up to a national championship. Shortening the season back to eleven games prevents the season from running too long and further interfering with the NFL playoffs. This also takes strain off of teams playing in the playoffs who could play up to three additional games. The longer the season gets the greater chance there is for injury and that is the absolute last thing that anyone wants too see in college football. Nobody wants a rising star’s career to be cut short because their body wore down in college.
Finally, the six winners of the conferences championships would enter the playoff and two additional wild card teams would be selected. The wild card teams would be chosen by a selection committee, much like it is done in college basketball now. This would ensure that teams who are deserving of entering the playoffs but who may have been defeated by tough competition in their conference championship would still get an opportunity to compete in the playoffs.
While the execution of this plan would be near impossible at the moment due to contractual obligations the teams have to their current conferences and the contracts those conferences have with television stations, it could be implemented in the future if the NCAA were to set a date past which no contractual obligations between any team and conference could be established. This would require a lot of work on the part of the NCAA (so they probably would never consider it) but it would provide for the most merit-based system in which a national champion can be crowned in college football.