Every season we have the programmed discussion of how to fix the four-team College Football Playoff, and every year we tack on additional details. 2020 is right around the corner. The end of a decade is near. Let's raise our standards.
The classic four-team format, started in 2014-15, is decent enough but seemingly always leaves out a team or two, including Power-5 conference champions. Why in the world would we settle for that with better options -- hell, even with obvious precedents within collegiate sports -- at our disposal?
There is money to be made here, and the clear first step in such a proposal is an expansion to eight teams. Such a change is so obvious, even I figured out a way to make it work.
It's simple. Every Power-5 champion receives an automatic spot in the Playoff. This eliminates any anger from conference commissioners -- men and women with tremendous power to influence the financial success of this endeavor.
The sixth spot would go to the top-ranked Group of 5 champion. Similar to how such status (given the right ranking) currently guarantees a New Year's Six bowl game, this would up the ante. For years, we've complained about Group of 5 teams not receiving a fair CFP chance. This proposal would fix that flaw and then some, either proving pundits right or wrong on a yearly basis. TV ratings would be through the roof.
The next two guaranteed seeds will go to essential 'Wild Cards', meaning several top-ranked teams which weren't able to win their conference. This, then, would increase the importance of conference legitimacy.
There are always outliers, and seasons past have identified a key flaw in this system -- what if a conference has a down year, with few teams near the top of the rankings? It's simple, then. To make the College Football Playoff in general, a team must be ranked in the top-15.
There are no exceptions, even for the Group of 5. Surely, there will be years either a Power-5 or Group of 5 conference fail to meet this standard. Should that be the case, another 'Wild Card' will be gifted a CFP chance, as they surely deserve such an opportunity more than a lame duck conference champion, period.
Teams will then be re-seeded based on their CFP ranking by the current committee before the tournament begins.
This blueprint doesn't eliminate the importance of regular season play, the College Football Playoff rankings, or Conference Championship Games. If anything, there's more at stake on a weekly basis.
Ranking battles will increase ratings for the weekly CFP reveal. Regular season games, even seemingly lopsided ones, are huge as style points are everything to a committee influenced by basic human error and recency bias. Instead of highlighting the committee's errors, play into it, as there are more spots available, leaving a larger margin for error.
You can poke holes in any system, and this is no exception. But by bringing something -- anything -- to the table, we can at least open the conversation. An eight-team playoff is in our future. The sooner we acknowledge that, the better.