A 12-team College Football Playoff plan that should make SEC fans happy. Thanks, readers | Adams
A college football playoff was a popular topic for discussion way back when I first started writing sports columns. Seems like it was only 45 years ago.
Wait. It was 45 years ago.
College football has advanced considerably since then. It now has a four-team playoff, the most recent of which culminated with Georgia beating TCU so badly that the NCAA should give the Horned Frog program the death penalty – or at least forbid it from picking up a football for the next year.
Now, back to the playoff, which shouldn’t include TCU for five years no matter how many games it wins. Not after 65-7.
The playoff field will expand to 12 teams in 2024 and generate so much money that everyone associated with the sport will be paid as much as a fired Tennessee football coach. But the number of teams isn’t as important to me as the method for selecting them. That’s why a format suggested by a longtime friend from my hometown of Clinton, Louisiana, got my attention.
Kay’s idea: First, take the five champions from the Power Five conferences; then, take the five runners-up from those conferences; finally, add two teams from the Group of Five conferences.
In that scenario, 10 of the 12 teams would be decided by what happened on the field, not in a College Football Playoff committee meeting. I’m all for that.
I know what you’re thinking: “Nobody cares what some childhood friend of yours thinks about a college football playoff. If you want a playoff plan, consult your literary contributors. They’re the experts.”
Anyone who reads this column regularly knows I place my readers above everything: family, friends, pets and life itself. So, I presented Kay’s plan to five of my award-winning literary contributors: Mark, Mark, Marie, Mike and Mike. I call them the “M Squad,” which I rely on for this column’s off-the-books operations.
The first M Squad response was negative. So was the second. Then, 65-7 happened. As a result, I have tweaked Kay’s plan to make it fair for everyone, especially the SEC.
Let’s face it. Not all Power Five conferences are alike. We are reminded of that at almost every national championship game, every NFL draft, every national signing date and every time TCU plays Georgia in Los Angeles. To paraphrase a popular slogan, “The SEC just means better.”
If I had reshuffled the playoff field after the Georgia-TCU game, it would have looked like: Georgia, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Alabama. After tweaking Kay’s plan, I came up with this:
The top four teams in the SEC standings would qualify for the playoff. So would the top two teams from the Big Ten unless one of those teams lost to TCU (take note, Michigan). Also qualifying would be the conference champion from the Pac-12, the ACC and the Big 12.
However, if TCU were to win the Big 12, the conference would have no playoff representative. But based on what I saw Monday night, that won’t happen again.
I realize this is complicated. In fact, when I presented the plan to one M Squad member, she responded: “I don’t want to think that hard. Too much like calculus.”
So, a quick review: Four teams from the SEC, two from the Big Ten, one each from the Big 12, ACC and Pac-12.
Without taking calculus, you should be able to figure out that’s nine teams.
I would increase the field by adding the conference champions from the two highest rated conferences outside the Group of Five. That would give the CFP selection committee something to do.
The 12th playoff team could be selected through a play-in game between the fifth- and sixth-best teams in the SEC.
You might be wondering: “But what about Notre Dame?”
While I appreciate Notre Dame’s place in college football history, you can’t have an independent in a conference-championship-based playoff format. My advice to Notre Dame: Join a conference.
Maybe it could replace TCU in the Big 12.
I ran my revised playoff plan by Kay. She said something like, “I don’t care if all 12 teams are from the SEC.”
But that’s way too extreme. For now.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnadamskns.