Two possible solutions to changing the College Football Playoff

     The College Football Playoff, at least in my opinion, has been extremely underwhelming. Clemson completely steamrolled Notre Dame 30-3, while Oklahoma at least kept it competitive with Alabama falling 45-34. Early in the game, Alabama jumped out to a 21-0 lead and carried the momentum into half with a 31-10 lead. According to data from Statgeek, ticket prices are the lowest for Alabama vs. Clemson since the start of the four-team playoff in 2015. Fans are clearly not enchanted with the matchup and simply don’t want to shell out hard earned money for the same repetitive cycle of matchups featuring teams like Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon, and Georgia. In the five years of the current College Football Playoff scenario, only those five teams have ever made the finals.

     Personally, I’m turned off by the matchup entirely. I believe Alabama will defeat Clemson by about two touchdowns, a very comfortable margin for a championship game, and it isn’t worth it to watch the game, let alone pay for hotel, airfare, and the works for one game. Granted, if you attend one of these schools, or are a huge college football fan, this is amazing news and would be a great time to snag a ticket and get to see your favorite team in action. I believe changing the format even slightly may yield even slightly different results and spice up the mix of teams. Even just one or two different teams every year may be enough to excite fans enough to drive interest and ticket prices up again. Here are my two alternatives to the current format:

     Option # 1: 6 team playoff

          Seed #3 vs. Seed #6

          Seed #4 vs. Seed #5

          Seeds #1 and #2 would get first round byes and seed #1 would play the lowest seed emerging from the two matchups.

          If implemented this season, the playoff would look like:

               #3 Notre Dame vs. #6 Ohio State

               #4 Oklahoma vs. #5 Georgia

               #1 Alabama and #2 Clemson would get byes

     Option #2: 8 team playoff with certain guarantees

          There would be five guaranteed conference spots for the conference winners of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac 12, and Big 12. The other three spots would be determined by the committee. The winners of the conferences would be seeded 1-5 and the three others would be ranked 6-8. The playoffs would then be played like a normal eight team playoff.

          If implemented this season, the playoff would look like:

               #1 Alabama vs. #8 Michigan

               #2 Clemson vs. #7 Georgia

               #3 Oklahoma vs. #6 Notre Dame

               #4 Ohio State vs. #5 Washington

      I used the rankings that were out before the bowl games and just changed the situations depending on conference winners. Situation one offers more teams to try to create an upset and spice up the teams moving on and rewards being the top two seeds. The second situation rewards conferences winners, but is tough for outside teams, like a Notre Dame, to have a clear path in. They would almost guaranteed have to win out, but that’s really not different then the current state.

     I will admit this, changing the format of the playoffs may in fact not change a thing. If Alabama and other teams continue to pull in the best recruits, run the best plays, and have the best coaches, it’s going to be a continuous cycle of the same teams. These changes are an effort to mix things up and try to get some variety into the mix. An endless cycle of Clemson vs. Alabama is eventually going to become common place without change may completely turnoff fans entirely.


Eric Fenstermaker                                                                1/4/19


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