A College Football Playoff involving eight teams might be closer to happening then what we expect, at least that is what Tuesday’s College Football Playoff Committee Rankings revealed on Tuesday night?
Look at the rankings, and I know we are another three weeks away from the final poll, but four of the top eight teams in the rankings reside from one conference … the Big Ten, while the ACC and the Big Ten have two teams each in the top 5. That means there is a possibility of two teams from the same conference getting in the playoffs this year, and if that happens, which means two Power 5 Conference Champions are left out, then that isn’t going to sit too well with those two conferences.
Granted, everything could work itself and all four playoff teams are conference champions. However, the possibility of two teams from the same conference appears to be a legitimate possibility at the moment.
The key to all this chaos lie in the hands of the Big Ten, and in particular with the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game. If No. 3 Michigan beats the No. 2 Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 26, and then wins the Big Ten Championship the following week, then it will represent the Big Ten in the CFP. If Clemson and Washington both win out, they will both make the playoff along with Alabama from the SEC.
However, there is a scenario that if Michigan wins out and Washington losses once, then No. 5 Louisville could sneak into the playoffs.
But what happens if Ohio State beats Michigan, as many expect, and Penn State wins out, including a win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Do the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions both get in? What if Wisconsin wins out, does Ohio State and Wisconsin both get in?
What if Washington, Clemson, Ohio State and Wisconsin all win out? Who gets in? Could Washington with two top 25 wins down the stretch possibly jump Clemson and keep the Tigers out of the playoff? I don’t think that would happen, but I’m not 100-percent confident it wouldn’t.
My point is this. No one, outside of Alabama, is safe right now. Anything can happen over the next three weeks, and more than likely, if last Saturday taught us anything, it probably will happen.
So if two teams from one conference get in the CFP this year, how long do you think it takes for the two conferences left out to start putting some serious heat on the idea of an eight-team playoff?
As Robert and I went through all the possibilities on Sunday night, we realized the playoff is already structured in a way to pull it off, other than figuring out a way to make sure if it can fit into the schedule without affecting the student-athlete.
To host a quarterfinal round, a semifinal round and then a championship game, the CFP can use all six bowls that it currently uses for the College Football Playoff. For example, if the playoff was expanded to eight teams this year, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl will host the quarterfinal round, while the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl would host the semifinals. The CFP Championship Game will be awarded to a city that wins the bid to host, like Tampa this year.
As for who gets into the playoff? Well, each Power 5 Conference Champion earns an automatic bid. Then the highest ranked conference champion from the other five also earns a bid and then two at-large bids complete the field.
So for example, if everything plays out like we expect it to then Alabama, Clemson, Washington, the Wisconsin-Penn State winner in the Big 10 title game and Oklahoma would receive automatic bids as Power 5 Conference Champions. Western Michigan would earn the Other Five’s automatic bid, while Ohio State and Louisville would be the at-large teams.
As I said before, the schedule would have to be worked out on when the quarterfinal round could be played, but it is a feasible solution and can be worked out in the confines of what the CFP does now.
I can say this much, it is a whole lot better solution than the potential situation where two Power 5 Conference Champions are left out of the playoff.
At least this way, everybody is happy.