Can TCU's Gary Patterson's 6-Team Playoff Expansion Idea Really Work?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 13, 2015

TCU head coach Gary Patterson
TCU head coach Gary PattersonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

We are a month removed from the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, and there's already a push for change. 

Like a kid who unwraps a present on Christmas Day, TCU head coach Gary Patterson wants to set it aside and move on to the next one under the tree. 

Patterson discussed his proposal for how the playoff should work with ESPN.com's Chris Low, and it includes a surprising twist involving conference championship games.

  • Six teams—five of which are Power Five conference champions with one at-large team.
  • No more conference championship games.
  • Top two teams in the playoff would receive byes, keeping the current structure of the playoff relatively intact.

It would prevent upsets during conference championship weekend from playing a major part in the college football landscape. After all, would 8-5 2012 Big Ten champion Wisconsin really have deserved a spot in the playoff?

Of course not.

Patterson's idea would work. Well, all except the part about doing away with conference championship games.

Is the SEC going to give up its conference championship game in Atlanta, which drew 12.8 million viewers on network television (CBS), according to SportsMediaWatch.com, and was sold out in 2014 for the 22nd time in 23 years, according to a message returned by the SEC office.

That's not happening.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson
TCU head coach Gary PattersonChristian Petersen/Getty Images

The SEC won't let it, the Big Ten would be hard-pressed to give up its new cash cow in Indianapolis and other conferences would likely follow suit. More importantly, though, the television partners involved in college football would laugh commissioners out of the room if this was brought up in a serious capacity.

The advent of conference championship games in 1992 has added extra excitement to the end of the season for a variety of reasons, which is part of the reason that television contracts have skyrocketed over the last couple of decades.

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock spoke with B/R in December and was steadfast in his stance that the four-team playoff isn't changing anytime soon.

"It's a four-team tournament for 12 years," Hancock said. "There hasn't been any discussion in our group about expanding."

College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock
College Football Playoff executive director Bill HancockUSA TODAY Sports

Besides, as has been my criticism of any kind of playoff expansion, anything beyond four teams would diminish the true goal of the playoff—awarding the title to the most deserving team.

The goal for the playoff should be to reward excellence, not grant access. 

Just because a team wins its arbitrarily determined conference, which, in college football, is loosely dependent on geography, does that make it excellent?

No.

It's more likely that a worthy team would be crowned conference champion without having to play a conference championship game, but that would take away something that helped build college football to the point where media rights deals are in the billions, not millions.

What's wrong with what we have now?

Did TCU have a gripe at the end of the season? Sure. Baylor did too (more of one, actually). There's going to be angry teams left out of every playoff system in every sport, every season, without exception. 

That doesn't mean the structure of the playoff should change as a result, it just means they should be better and, you know, not give up 21-point fourth-quarter leads to Baylor.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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