It’s hard to believe but there is just one month left in college football’s regular season. Everybody is talking about Ohio State, Alabama, LSU, Clemson, or Penn State playing for College Football’s postseason. Let’s throw in teams like Memphis, SMU, Florida State or even BC. Guess what? They’re playing for postseason play as well, just not the actual CFB Playoff but rather for a bowl game. There are 41 bowl games that are going to be played featuring teams from the power five conferences and smaller conferences like the Sun Belt conference MAC, Conference USA and others. Do we really need to see the Camellia Bowl or the Birmingham Bowl or the Gasparilla Bowl?
I understand that this allows coaches to get two weeks of bonus practice time and the Universities a chance to show off its institution on a national stage, but this goes into the territory of “Yay, everybody gets a ribbon and a postseason!” In all likelihood, a .500 team or worse from the ACC or SEC will appear in a bowl game as the 4th place team in their own division while Notre Dame gets to fraudulently walk to a New Year’s six bowl game.
In pro sports they have a playoff to determine who the best teams are, so why can’t college football? I tried fixing baseball a few months ago, so let’s give college football a shot.
1. The top 2 teams from each division in a conference play in a mini tournament: Clemson has had their spot in the ACC Championship game set since August while other teams like Wake Forest, Louisville and even BC are left playing a lame duck season ending in the pinstripe bowl in New York. Having a mini tournament in conferences like the ACC, SEC, Big 10 and even Pac 12 would give players who are set for the NFL an opportunity to play in a true playoff atmosphere while other players who are going to end their career at the last whistle of the college season will be able to play for a purpose. The Big 12 doesn’t have divisions so the top four teams would qualify.
For spacing issues, the Pac-12 isn’t on the image, but the match ups would be Utah-USC and Oregon-Oregon State. A lot of these games are either happening over the next couple weeks or have happened. A rematch would test both players and coaches while driving up viewership and sponsor money.
This would help raise TV ratings as well. While the New Year’s Six games have a wide range average of between a 4.7-9.9 Nielsen rating, some of the lesser bowl games have a difficult time attracting viewers while also reaching into markets that aren’t particularly big into college football like the Northeast which holds three top 10 TV markets.
This would also take the possibility of a power 5 conference team playing an absolute nobody in a virtual waste of a game because now conferences are so large that the regular season would be conference schedule and perhaps a rivalry game, but each week would be more meaningful.
2. Less could be more: While having 41 bowl games gives you an excuse to watch TV, why not shave a few games off of the schedule? Stick to what brought you to the dance, College football on Saturdays at 3:30 and 8pm. Having your Fresno State’s and Western Michigan’s could still work but have the games when College Football fans are used to watching, not a random Tuesday night in December at 9pm.
3. 8 is great: With six games involved in the championship rotation, College Football can cash in on their New Year’s Six. As they’ve done for a few years, rotate the games but instead of two games deciding the finalists, the six games would determine your finalists with an 8 team field. Players on these top teams in the game are treated as pros without the paycheck, so why not broadcast them so ESPN and FOX can get their money from sponsors and for the players they get the playoff vibe while also working on their football resumes.
4. Who’s In: Filling out the eight-team bracket would take the power away from the CFP Committee. Each Power 5 conference will have their champion play for the trophy, as for the final three teams? Time for these lesser known conferences to put up or shut up. They will be voted by the teams in the power 5 conferences that don’t claim their conference title.
Will this ever happen? Probably not, but if something like this were to ever happen, I would watch more postseason college football. No more blue ribbons, time to play for titles! Maybe eventually a couple bucks along the way?
-John Luck (@jluck_89)