How the College Football Playoff System Should Be Constructed

By Jeff Hauser
Kevin Jairaj/ USA Today
Kevin Jairaj/ USA Today

This season, college football starts a new playoff system constructed with a four-team format. The College Football Playoff Selection Committee claims this is the best and most definitive process to determine a national champion, calling it “The biggest innovation in the sports decade”.

The format places the best four teams in the nation in two semifinal bowl games and a national championship game. I agree with the idea of having a college football playoff, but the structure of a four-team format is completely wrong. The four teams that are among the best in the nation and are included in this playoff don’t represent college football as a whole. A better format would be to adopt the college football tradition of the top 25 rankings.

Here’s how a better playoff system should be constructed by the selection committee.

The top 25 teams would be determined by the end of season rankings. The No. 25 and No. 24 ranked teams would have a play-in game to determine the No. 24 ranking. In the first round, 12 games of 24 teams would be split up in a two bracket format. The format would look like this.

First Bracket                                                                                                  Second Bracket

#1 vs. #24                                                                                                           #2 vs. #23

#3 vs. #22                                                                                                           #4 vs. #21

#5 vs. #20                                                                                                           #6 vs. #19

#7 vs. #18                                                                                                             #8 vs.#17

#9 vs. #16                                                                                                          #10 vs. #15

#11 vs. #14                                                                                                         #12 vs. #13

The teams would play each other all the way down to the remaining three teams in each bracket. The highest ranked team would have a bye for the semifinal round and would play the winner of the lower ranked teams in the next round. This wouldn’t be a long drawn out process for the playoff structure. If a team plays in the national championship they would only play a maximum of five games to get there.

That’s the equivalent of an extra month in the college football schedule. When you consider how the bowl games are scheduled currently, the two bracket format would take the same amount of time. College football would have a true national champion and would stick to the tradition of the top 25 rankings.

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