Steve Coon Blog

Fixing the Division 1 College Football Playoffs

Football fans, sports writers and broadcasters as well as conference officials discuss this every year.  And every year the college football powers kick the can down the road.

Despite public pronouncements, the real reason is—as it always is—money.  There is too much financial gain in the current Division 1 system with more than 40 post-season bowl games.  Even the so-called nothing bowls earn money because ESPN pays conferences for the rights to broadcast the contests.  Without TV money, those inconsequential bowl games would die.  A demise that only the players’ families would grieve.

Let’s assume for a moment that the money disappears and the NCAA finally turns to devising a legitimate playoff, what should it look like?

Right now there are 11 Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS) conferences.  But the mythical national championship is based on the so-called Power Five Conferences.

They are the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC.  The most popular college football teams are in those five conferences.

To have a legitimate Division 1 playoff scheme we need eight conferences to have a four-game championship series.

Last year Oklahoma and Texas announced their departure from the Big 12 and are heading to the SEC.  A conference already rich in talent among its 14 teams.

The ACC and Big Ten also have 14 teams and the Pac 12 has 12.  The Big 12 has only 10 schools but will be dwindle to 8 after Oklahoma and Texas leave.

Although the Big 12 is scheduled to expand with the arrival of 4 new teams, it long has been an anemic group and should be dissolved.

That’s part of the answer.  Eliminate the remaining weak conferences by moving their schools to the eight strong conferences.

The new Power Eight Conferences (let’s call them) would be:

1—The current American Athletic Conference (AAC) expanded to 14 teams.

2—The AAC with its 14 schools

3—The Big 12 with 14 universities

4—Conference US with 14 colleges

5—Mid-American expanded to 14

6—Mountain West grows to 14

7—The SEC with its 14

8—The Sun Belt absorbs some of the Independents

The next part of the equation is to scrap the 3-non-conference games schools play.  Begin conference competition on Day One of the season.  At the end of 9 games the winners of each division of every conference would be determined. 

Week 10 is for each conference championship.

Week 11 those 8 teams play the first playoff games in one of the existing Bowls. 

Week 12 we’re down to 4 schools.

Week 13 the remaining 2 schools play for the Division 1 National Championship.

Wait.  What about the teams that don’t win their conference championships?   Keep your mediocre post-season bowl games if you wish and let the lesser schools play then—no different from the current non-conference contests at the beginning of each season. Instead, these would be at the end.

The small college football divisions already have a playoff system that works.  Smarter minds exist there. 

My plan eliminates the current beauty contest that dominates and corrupts the Division 1 playoffs that permit non-conference champions to compete.  Yes, Georgia I’m talking about you this year.