NCAA Football: How to Have a Playoff Without Destroying College Football

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NCAA Football: How to Have a Playoff Without Destroying College Football
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It happens every year.

As NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision season comes to a close, the top teams are discussed and analyzed by poll voters who cast their votes that will ultimately determine who plays for the National Championship. 

Then it begins.

"We need a playoff!!!"

"The Football Championship Subdivision has a playoff, why don't we?"

Many believe that the colleges stand to lose too much money from the current and very profitable bowl game system.

It has been debated for years and will probably be discussed for many more. While many propose a playoff, how would it actually be implemented?  How would you choose the teams and how many teams would be included?

If there is a major change in determining the national champion of college football, one item that needs to be corrected is getting the poll voters out of the process. Nothing waters down a championship system than trusting the objectiveness of those who choose the No. 1 and No. 2 teams.

What possible system could be introduced that would remove polls from determining champions?

It all starts with a process that is already underway in college football:

Eric Draper/Getty Images
Despite much success, TCU has been left out of the national title picture.

Conference realignment—and I mean a big one.

The conferences have been teetering on the edge of a "team-invite war" for years. 

The ACC successfully captured the heart of the Big East's competitive force in 2004 when Virginia Tech and Miami made the move. Boston College followed a year later.

In 2010, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 made big moves to get to 12 teams in order to have a conference championship game, though bigger changes were rumored to have been proposed behind closed doors.

The NCAA has to recognize that the conferences are being forced into a self-preservation mode that will cause these types of invites—Grow or die.

The Big East has never been the same and the Big 12 nearly perished after the latest round of realignment.

In order to move to a playoff, the NCAA needs to broker the conference realignment to put all 120 FBS teams into eight conferences. It could look something like this.

ACC Big East Big 16 Big SouthWest
Boston College Ball St Akron Arkansas St
Clemson Buffalo Illinois Baylor
Duke Cincinnati Indiania Iowa State
East Carolina Louisville Iowa Kansas
Florida Int Navy Kent St Kansas State
Florida St Notre Dame Michigan  Louisiana Laf
Georgia Tech Pittsburgh Michigan State Louisiana Mon
Maryland Rutgers Minnesota Missouri
Memphis Syracuse Nebraska Oklahoma
Miami Temple Northwestern Oklahoma St.
NC State Toledo Ohio TCU
UNC Uconn Ohio State Texas
USF W. Kentucky Penn State Texas A&M
Virginia West Virginia Purdue Texas Tech
Virginia Tech
W. Michigan
Wake Forest
Conference USA Mountain West Pac 16 SEC
Army Air Force Arizona Alabama
Bowling Green Boise St Arizona St. Arkansas
Central Michigan BYU Cal Auburn
Eastern Michigan Colorado St Colorado Florida
Houston Idaho Fresno State Florida Atl
Marshall N. Illinois Hawaii Georgia
Miami OH Nevada Oregon Kentucky
Rice New Mexico Oregon St. Louisiana Tech
SMU New Mexico St San Diego St LSU
Southern Miss North Texas San Jose St Middle Tenn
Troy UNLV Stanford Mississippi
Tulane Utah St UCLA Mississippi St
Tulsa UTEP USC South Carolina
UAB Wyoming Utah Tennessee

Washington UCF

Washington St. Vanderbilt

This is just an example of course, and there would be some problems to work out, but how would this system become a playoff?

With eight major conferences, you would have an easy way to create a sixteen team playoff using the conference championship game as the first round.

The eight conference champions would move on.

This would introduce two extra football games to the season.  These games would be played at the stadiums of the participating schools by either rotating the host team each year or using the polls and making the highest ranked team the home team.

How should the National Champion be determined?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Many of the bowl games could still be held for the non-conference champion teams, which would keep the new playoff system from alienating bowl proponents.

Some problems that would have to be overcome would be deciding which teams land in which of the eight conferences and what would happen to current conferences that do not become one of the eight?—MAC, WAC, Sun Belt?

It may be a sad reality of growth, but only the strong survive, so these conferences would most likely be disbanded if a playoff system like the one above is introduced.

While this is a sad truth, we have many positives that we can take from such a system

—Finally, a system in which wins and losses alone determine the champion.

—New conferences that do not include traditional powers which will bring new faces to the national title picture.

—Bigger conferences allow new match-ups between teams that do not traditionally play each other.

So while it appears that the good would outweigh the bad, when or will this ever happen? 

Would there have to be a catalyst to get this system, or a similar one, moving? 

Only time will tell if the college football world ever grows so weary of the current system that it makes a dramatic move such as this. 

One thing is for sure, any system that allows the teams to decide the national champion without relying on voters or computers will be a better system than we have now.

Let's hope the decision makers of College Football agree.

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