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The Perfect Playoff Expansion Solution (it's Not 6, 8, 12, or 16)

+9 HS
Scarlet and Great's picture
May 12, 2021 at 9:59am
82 Comments

...or at least it is in my opinion!

For all the recent talk about expanding the CFP, I am surprised nobody offered the solution that I consider to be the perfect number of teams:  7

Here's why I think this could work well and keep the regular season relevant:

With auto-bids going to each Power 5 conference winner, as well as the highest ranked Group of 5 team, it leaves just 1 at-large bid for the CFP Committee to have to decide on.  This probably makes it a little easier on them, and it helps keep the regular season relevant as any loss knocks you into the pool of teams hoping for the at-large bid and means a second loss is pretty much the nail in your coffin.  And since nobody locks up a bid until they win their conference you can't sit back and assume you are in good shape at any point during the season.

It makes each conference championship game HUGE.  The winner is the the playoff, the loser is most likely out.  And the smaller conferences might get more viewers to tune into their championship games to see who might end up highest ranked and thus grabbing a playoff spot.

No conference will get more than 2 teams into the playoff, so the CFP committee will not be able to pack the bracket with SEC teams.  In fact, over the last 7 seasons of the CFP, only 2 SEC teams would have made the playoff as an at-large bid, with 2 going to the Big Ten, 2 to Notre Dame, and 1 to the Big 12.

It gives incentive to schedule big out of conference games to help boost the resume.  Sure some teams will go with the weak non-conference schedule, but they are taking a big risk if they don't win their conference championship.

With the top seed getting a first round bye it makes the regular season very important as that bye week is a big advantage.

If the first round is played at home stadiums (as I think it should be), getting a top 4 seed is extremely valuable, also enhancing the importance of the regular season.

The TV schedule would be awesome as you could play a triple header for the first round; an all day playoff marathon would be amazing.

And for those who say they don't want to see a 3 or 4 loss team make the playoff by winning their conference, I say it won't happen that often, and even if it does they will be the 6th or 7th seed and likely won't last past a road game against the #2 or #3 team in the nation.

Looking back to 2014, the worst records that would have made the playoff under this format would have been 2020 Oregon (4-2) by winning % or  2018 Washington (10-3) by losses.  I believe 2018 Washington would have been the only 3 loss team in those 7 years, and they were still a top 10 team in the final CFP rankings.

Below is the seeding if the CFP rankings were used since 2014.  The team with the * by their name would have been the lone at-large team to make the field, and I also list the highest team left out.  Probably the biggest surprise when I looked the rankings up is the 2015 Ohio State team STILL would not have made the playoff under this format... ugh.

2020
#1 (bye) #1 Alabama
#2 vs #7 #2 Clemson vs #25 Oregon
#3 vs #6 #3 Ohio State vs #8 Cincinnati
#4 vs #5 #4 Notre Dame* vs #6 Oklahoma
Highest left out: #5 Texas A&M

2019
#1 (bye) #1 LSU
#2 vs #7 #2 Ohio State vs #17 Memphis
#3 vs #6 #3 Clemson vs #6 Oregon
#4 vs #5 #4 Oklahoma vs #5 Georgia*
Highest left out: #7 Baylor

2018
#1 (bye) #1 Alabama
#2 vs #7 #2 Clemson vs #9 Washington
#3 vs #6 #3 Notre Dame* vs #8 UCF
#4 vs #5 #4 Oklahoma vs #6 Ohio State
Highest left out: #5 Georgia

2017
#1 (bye) #1 Clemson
#2 vs #7 #2 Oklahoma vs #12 UCF
#3 vs #6 #3 Georgia vs #8 USC
#4 vs #5 #4 Alabama* vs #5 Ohio State
Highest left out: #6 Wisconsin

2016
#1 (bye) #1 Alabama
#2 vs #7 #2 Clemson vs #15 Western Michigan
#3 vs #6 #3 Ohio State* vs #7 Oklahoma
#4 vs #5 #4 Washington vs #5 Penn State
Highest left out: #6 Michigan

2015
#1 (bye) #1 Clemson
#2 vs #7 #2 Alabama vs #18 Houston
#3 vs #6 #3 Michigan State vs #6 Stanford
#4 vs #5 #4 Oklahoma vs #5 Iowa*
Highest left out: #7 Ohio State

2014
#1 (bye) #1 Alabama
#2 vs #7 #2 Oregon vs #20 Boise State
#3 vs #6 #3 Florida State vs #6 TCU*
#4 vs #5 #4 Ohio State vs #5 Baylor
Highest left out: #7 Mississippi State

So that's my perfect solution to playoff expansion.  I haven't heard anyone else bring up 7, so obviously it's not a popular opinion, but I still think it could be a great option.

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

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