Why College Football Should Expand Its Playoff This Year
Revenue is lacking so create a bigger event.
Bigger playoff means more money.
College football could very well look very different this year with coronavirus impacting all sports but with how leagues are making adjustments perhaps this is the time for college football to get weird.
There are options with the NBA returning in a variety ways to determine the rest of the season like a World Cup-style event, going straight to the playoffs, or some sort of play in system. The NHL is finishing up with 24 teams to crown its champion.
College football is slowly looking like a fairly normal season (fingers crossed) but there have been options of going conference-only games or making some swaps to more regional games. Now is it the time to be creative and to make some money if fans are limited or not allowed this year.
One idea that came to mind to get more revenue to the college football world is to go into the bag of tricks and have a 16-team playoff and this is under the assumption that all 10 leagues have an autobid with their conference champions and six at-large teams. The six at-large teams gives the independent teams a chance to get into a playoff, but their schedule might be a bit tricky to evaluate with so few independent teams.
With a 16-team playoff, it will allow for some revenue with a playoff that goes from three games to 15. This would extend the season and maybe even get some home games and maybe even some fans in the games for that gate revenue.
The 10 conference champions get into the playoff plus those six at-large teams and at the very least the first-round games could be at home campuses. Then round two and beyond would have the need for seven neutral site games and those could be used for bowl games and regional for higher seeds to get a little boost not only for some home field but fans to go to the game, but then the semifinals and finals can be at big bowl venues nearby.
To predict the future of these matchups we are going to use ESPN’s SP+ to rank the field to create a bracket.
- Clemson (ACC)
- Ohio State (Big Ten)
- Alabama (SEC)
- Wisconsin (Big Ten, at-large)
- Georgia (SEC, at-large)
- LSU (SEC, at-large)
- Penn State (Big Ten, at-large)
- Oregon (Pac-12)
- Auburn (SEC, at-large)
- Oklahoma (Big 12)
- Texas (Big 12, at-large)
- UCF (AAC)
- Boise State (Mountain West)
- Appalachian State (Sun Belt)
- UAB (Conference USA)
- Buffalo (MAC)
The odds of the College Football Playoff Committee changing this, even on a one-year basis seems slim, but there is money to be had with this idea and then split it among the leagues by adding 15 more games that are important. Plus, if there is no out of conference games this would be the first time to see those types of games and provide some TV interest.
In this time of uncertainty, why not use this time to try something as a test run that could be turned into a long-term situation. Teams and leagues will need money since March Madness was canceled and the NCAA was unable to pay out what it normally would.
Plus, an extended playoff would create a near-certain guarantee in increased TV ratings compared to low bowl games. People will first see if there is a Cinderalla team if a Group of Five team can upset a top-five team, or in the second round see a rare Pac-12 vs. SEC contest. There would be a whole of excitement for this and if it fails it would be an interesting experiment but if it succeeds then college football would be changed for the better, and the latter seems more likely.
Even if the season goes on as planned with everyone playing its season as scheduled, a 16-team playoff could still be used as a way to make up money for universities with that cash being used to recoup losses of no fans.
It is time to get weird, Bill Hancock.