The Case to Extend the College Football Playoff


Zach Janis

When tackling the College Football Playoff structure, you have to suspend logic and belief, largely because the current arrangement makes no sense. It’s time to address it, and set a better standard for one of the most exciting sports in the country.

Of the 130 eligible Division 1 teams across this great country, only four find themselves playing football in 2020. That alone is worth adjusting the playoff, but there are several other factors to consider.

Less games matter in a Four-Team Playoff

With the given structure of the Playoff, the only games that typically matter occur in the conference championships, and that’s only if one of the two participants have a chance to stay in, or get to the top four. With the SEC, like in most years, the conference championship is going to be huge, because it will likely feature a team that’s already a lock for the playoffs, and a team looking to sneak their way in.

There are 3 undefeated teams left in the country, LSU, Ohio State and Clemson. Behind them are a handful of 1 loss teams that equally deserve their shot at the playoff.  We know, however, with the current playoff system, a couple 1 loss power five conference champions might get left out. And a 1 or 2 loss non conference champion might coast in.

How do we fix it?

I present to you – the Zach Janis College Football Playoff Format.

The Way It Works

The Power Five conferences – ACC, SEC, Big-10, Big-12 and Pac-12 each get an automatic bid that is given to each conference champion. From there, the five teams are ranked by a committee based on strength of schedule, significance of wins/losses, etc. — basically, the same way they determine bids for the Top 25 poll. The committee then gives out five “at-large” bids. This gives the rest of the non-conference teams, or conference championship losers, a chance to still get in. This way teams that had a stellar year and one bad week aren’t out of the conversation. Still, there are only three available spots in the eight-team bracket, which means that two play-in games need to happen. The five at-large bids are ranked after being given out. The top-seeded “At Large” bid gets a bye, and filters into the sixth spot. The four remaining teams play in two play-in games, and the winners fill the seventh and eighth seeds.

How Does the Scheduling Change?

Good news! It doesn’t! Well, it mostly doesn’t. But the fix is easy.

There are currently 41 bowl games that occur every year (41!). Only a handful matter, namely the “New Year’s Six” bowl games. Two of those six bowl games get designated as the CFP Semifinals, so the easy solution is to assign the rest of them as playoff games as well. Six New Year’s bowl games fits 12 teams, which is perfect for our scenario. Nothing changes before the New Year’s Six, so companies can still bid away on the Idaho Farms Potato Bowl, the South Dakota Dust Bowl, and the like. 


Just make the thing bigger, dammit!