NCAA fans deserve playoffs after realignment

Dante Geoffrey

Slowly but surely, college football’s best teams are joining forces in “super conferences” – a move guaranteeing more money for the schools.

For the most part, fans are instinctively against this trend that is shaking up the very foundation on which college football is built.

Nebraska has joined the Big Ten, Texas A&M is headed to the Southeastern Conference, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, Texas and Oklahoma were considering moves to the Pacific-12 and graphic designers everywhere were trying to figure out what a “Pac-16” logo might look like.

It’s a lot to take in for those who love the lore of in-conference rivalries and a century-old tradition, but there is a bright side to this turmoil (I’d say there’s a silver lining, but if there was the NCAA would probably just melt it down for profit). This realignment might be the first big step to creating a Football Bowl Subdivision playoff system.

If teams continue to bail on their current conferences for better revenue sharing and more lucrative TV deals, the NCAA is going to end up with four major conferences, as opposed to the six major conferences that exist now.

The Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC are expanding – likely to 16 teams, while the Big 12 and Big East are in danger of dwindling.

This makes the implementation of a playoff system more plausible, although there’s still no excuse as to why one doesn’t exist now.

My proposal (one that would never be approved by the NCAA) is this: a 12-team elimination playoff. The four conference champions get a first-round bye. The champions of the Big East and the Big 12, as well as the two highest-ranked “wild cards” (mid-major winners or major conference runners-up) host first-round playoff games against teams ranked nine through 12 (poll rankings will be replaced with seeding numbers).

The lower-ranked team plays the higher ranked team at the higher ranked team’s home stadium.

So, No. 12 plays at No. 5, No. 11 plays at No. 6, No. 10 plays at No. 7, and so on.

Round two matches the winners of the first round with the conference champions at the conference champion’s home stadium. Highest seed plays lowest seed and so on, same format as round one.

The bracket plays out like normal, and a virtually undisputed champion is crowned.

There’s plenty of tinkering that can be done, and the specifics aren’t as important as a playoff system existing in some form. An imperfect playoff system is infinitely better than an imperfect Bowl Championship Series system.

So, who should the NCAA look toward as a model?

I suggest the NCAA. After all, it’s done a fine job creating the playoff system used by the Football Championship Series.

As a student at an FCS school, I am told by FBS counterparts that FCS football is of lesser quality.

The FCS may send far fewer players to the pros and rarely see itself on ESPN, but at least it knows without a shadow of a doubt which team is its champion. Can the BCS say that?

The NCAA has argued that a playoff system would be too taxing on students and take away from their academic pursuits.

Uh huh.

College football players live their lives balancing school and football; a few more weeks isn’t going to make or break their academic career.

Plus, given the hypocritical fact the NCAA allows for the FCS to have a six-week (six!) playoff system, is the NCAA saying it doesn’t care about the academic success of FCS students?

Of course not.

The same tired excuses as to why there aren’t playoffs in FBS football aren’t even true now, so don’t tell us they’ll become a problem all of a sudden in the future.

The truth is, having approximately 827 Bowl games a year generates a lot of money for schools and the league.

So does abandoning conferences and creating huge television networks.

The NCAA is championing capitalism, the free market and progression, but won’t it please champion a football team?


Dante Geoffrey can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter: @dantegeoffrey.