CFB Playoff: Eight is Enough

Alabama is in the College Football Playoff unless Georgia completely and utterly dominates them.

It's doubtful Georgia does that. But regardless, despite the outcry from Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 fans, and one Danny "I Hate the SEC" Kanell, if the Bulldogs win, the Crimson Tide most likely is still in.

We know that the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 won't accept being left out of the picture so that for the second straight year, two SEC teams take half of the coveted CFP spots. We also know that conference championship games aren't going away anytime soon. The money is way too good (even the Sun Belt will host a conference title game this year), and no conference is going to sacrifice dollars to expand a playoff.

I say expand it anyway.

Keep the conference title games and expand the playoff to eight teams. Let the Power Five conference champions receive automatic bids, pick three at-large teams, rank them all 1-8, and give home field advantage to the top four seeded teams.

If this was to happen, critics would point out that a national title team, with the exception of Notre Dame, would have to play 16 games. Most high school teams that win their state title play 13-15 games. The NFL plays 16 regular season games already, along with exhibitions and playoff games. Having a 16-hame slate really doesn't sound all that unreasonable.

If the committee feels UCF should have a chance, they get one in this scenario. Honestly, you wouldn't be intrigued by UCF going to a snowy South Bend in December to take on the Fighting Irish? I know I'd want to watch.

Think they don't deserve a chance? Fine. The Group of Five still gets to keep their automatic New Year's Six bowl slot.

Does it add some serious pressure on a team like Alabama, who breezed through their regular season, to finish strong in the SEC title game? Definitely. Could it discredit the work of a team's regular season slate? Perhaps. But I tend to think that a committee would definitely look at filling an at-large slot with one of those teams. It would be quite miraculous to think four or five strong favorites could lose a chance at a title that way in the same year!

Of course, in a more perfect world, the Power Five would merge into the Power Four, creating four conferences of 16 teams, each with two divisions of eight programs. Each team would play five non-conference games against other Power Four conference teams before facing all seven division teams, with the winner of each division going to their conference title game (aka the Final Eight). The conference champs would then be seeded and face off in the national semifinals.

Non-conference games that wouldn't damage national title hopes. A major drop in cupcake games — that should boost attendance across the country in a big way. And, give the Group of Five a similar system and playoff structure. Group of Five teams take the field each fall with literally no chance of winning a national title. Why not give them the same chance to win a national title as Power Five, Division II, and Division III schools all receive?

We're not in that easy or perfect a world yet. But we can definitely improve our playoff system as is. And that starts with expanding it to eight teams.

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