How To Build the Perfect College Football Playoff Format
If you have not figured this out by now, I'm not a playoff guy. I think it cures a problem that does not really exist, and it changes the postseason from a culmination of the regular season into a spectacle in and of itself.
They call it "the second season" for a reason.
That said, a playoff is on the horizon, and everyone has their idea of what should and could be different to create the idyllic college football postseason. Some go huge—Mike Leach kicked out the idea of a 64-team playoff. Others go slightly smaller with 16, 20 or 24 teams. Some like conference champions only being involved, while others prefer the top eight teams battling for the title.
But if I'm forced to create a playoff, then I take the route the powers that be have already decided upon: a four-team playoff. No conference champion requirement, no silly coaches poll involved, no computers just spitting out information.
Instead, I create a true selection committee. A group of guys that work together all season long, talking, discussing and arriving at a consensus after each week of football. They would meet all season long, but they would only be tasked with putting together a poll starting at the end of October.
As for our committee meetings, they'd be open—televised levels of open. You could see the meetings and hear the former coaches, current administrators and media members discuss the teams. Hear why they feel certain ways about Team X and another way about Team Y. You might disagree with their assessment, but it would at least be clear why they think your team is not deserving of a Top 10 spot.
Transparency is the key here, and instead of just allowing a media member to sit in on the discussions, we'll open the forum up and allow people to see the process. That creates accountability and lends itself to people taking their role in the process extremely seriously.
Now that the most crucial elements—number of teams and selection process—are established, we can quibble over the implementation. Some folks like on-campus sites. Other people like rotating them through current bowl sites.
It would not be easy, but what my "ideal" system would utilize is a host-teams selection system, which quite literally would permit host teams to select between two host sites. That would allow for the proverbial bone to be thrown to the Big Ten where location and geography are concerned.
Will cities miss out in certain years? Absolutely. But Detroit and Indianapolis would be in play as long as the Big Ten finishes in the top two spots. For the ACC, D.C. and Atlanta would be on the table. In the SEC, New Orleans and Atlanta. In the Big 12, Dallas and Glendale. For the Pac-12, Seattle and Pasadena.
How many teams do you think belong in a playoff?
Only Seattle would need to have a bowl, but given the quantity of bowl games, shifting one to the Northwest would be doable. After all, it is my system.
Then, depending upon the city selected by the host team, the city that goes without being picked hosts their standard bowl game. The city hosting the semifinal proceeds to semifinal mode. Yes, all cities prepare as if they are hosting the game, but only two will get to play host a year.
As for timing, I do have some variance from the coming system. I give teams three weeks from "Championship Week" before the semifinal. That gives time for exams and then allows coaches to plan and prep for the biggest game of their season.
After the semifinals, I'd have another two-week period for all of the smaller bowls to be played as the lead-up to the big title showdown in January.
That is my ideal system: a small playoff where teams get time to prepare for semifinals and then prep for the title game. A field selected by individuals that are held accountable publicly. Semifinals played at a location that's as accommodating as possible for the hosts. What would you do differently?
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