Why will there only be a 4 team playoff next year in College Football?


The text came midafternoon on Saturday, somewhere around the halfway point of Jim Harbaugh's arugula-bitter post-The Game news conference. It was from a longtime friend who is a proud Michigan grad: THIS IS B.S.! PLAYOFF'S GOTTA GO TO 8 NOW!

I'm not great with emojis, so my response took a while. I finally settled on the crying girl, followed by grapes, a lemon, a thumbs-down, a big number 4, a finger pointing at that big number 4, and a football. Translation: Stop crying over sour grapes. Four is the perfect number for the playoff.

As it turns out, my little line of digital hieroglyphics came in pretty handy. A few hours later, as Colorado celebrated its Pac-12 South title, I received another "gotta go to eight!" text from a USC friend, and I pasted in my response, as I did for a Florida Gator pal that night. I could have used it earlier in the week as well, for friends and Tweeps from Nebraska, Louisville and Oklahoma State.

To any and all, I'm sorry your...

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Full disclosure: I’ve wanted a college football playoff for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a big proponent of ‘settle it on the field.’ I despised the BCS (while still giving that system the tiny share of credit it deserves for pulling together No. 1 and No. 2 in a national title game that college football fans didn’t have the pleasure of enjoying 20 or 30 years ago).

But the biggest reason I was convinced college football needed a playoff was so that every then-Division I/now FBS program could control its own destiny. It’s what we love about March Madness. Cinderella can win. The underdog can advance. It doesn’t matter if you’re Duke or Davidson. If you win every game you play all year long, you’ll be the national champion. Throw out size of enrollment. Throw out quality and tradition of program. Throw out television ratings. Let the athletes play the games and decide who deserves to hold up the trophy on the season’s final...

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This week, ESPN.com envisioned how the inaugural College Football Playoff might play out. Beginning with the 16 best teams in the nation, as chosen by our own mock selection committee of 13 college football experts, we whittled the list to eight, to four, and to two. Today, we reveal our choice for the favorite to win the four-team playoff: Florida State.

The Seminoles return 14 starters from last season's national championship team, but most importantly, they return the best player in the country in the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jameis Winston.

The Contenders | The Talent | The Strategy | The Leader | The Star

The Star

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- So which Jameis Winston do you think will play for Florida State this fall? Will it be the quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy? Or the 20-year-old who thought he could walk out of Publix with $32 of seafood?

Do you like your college heroes without a flaw? Or should we allow them to grow...

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- At the end of Monday night's 16th and final BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl, postseason college football as we have known it since 1998 will come to an end.

The BCS, which is essentially a two-team playoff, will be replaced by a four-team playoff simply known as the College Football Playoff. No need to get any more creative than that.

I'll warn you in advance that the CFP has a lot of moving parts. But what better time to break down those moving parts and to provide you with a primer of the things you need to know?

I had a chance to sit down with Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS and now the CFP, and ask him some key questions about the new system. His answers are in quotes. Mine are not. So here we go:

What bowls are in the CFP?

The CFP will consist of six bowls plus a stand-alone national championship game whose site will be chosen separately in a bidding process like the locations for the Final...

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USA TODAY Sports' George Schroeder breaks down the five college football matchups to watch this week. USA TODAY Sports

Each week during the season, the USA TODAY Sports college staff (Nicole Auerbach, Paul Myerberg, George Schroeder, Daniel Uthman and Dan Wolken) will provide their answers to on an intriguing question from college football. This week:

Which team is ranked too low in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings? Where should it be ranked, and why?

Nicole Auerbach

Western Michigan. If the committee thinks Louisville is good enough to be No. 5 earlier this week with what I believe was and is a very weak schedule to date (Florida State its only top-25 win), then why isn’t that same courtesy extended to Western Michigan? The Broncos have beaten everyone on their schedule — which is literally all they can do right now — including two Big Ten teams on the road, yet they’ve now fallen behind a one-loss Boise State, who is currently...

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The four-team College Football Playoffs will officially be announced on Dec. 6, and though on the surface it looks like the Pac-12—with no unbeaten or one-loss teams left—will be the one major conference left without a chair when the music stops, anything can happen between now and then.

The SEC, Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 are all having their conference title games this weekend—with plenty of playoff implications involved—and though the committee has been known to flip-flop teams in the past, realistically only 9 of the top 20 teams ranked by it have a fighting chance.

1. Clemson (12–0): Win and they’re in. An easy one. The committee obviously loves the Tigers, having voted them No. 1 every week. A victory over North Carolina in the ACC title match would give them their third big win of the season—following triumphs over Notre Dame and Florida State—and a likely top seed in the CFP.

2. Alabama (11–1): Win and they’re in as well. The Tide won the SEC West—which...

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The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship was a bowl game that was used to determine a national champion of college football in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2016 season, played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 9, 2017. It was the culminating game of the 2016–17 bowl season.

The game was played between the winners of two pre-designated bowl games played on December 31, 2016; the Clemson Tigers, who defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Alabama Crimson Tide, who defeated the Washington Huskies in the Peach Bowl. Meeting in the previous year's championship game, the resulting title game between Clemson and Alabama became college football's first rematch between #1 and #2 in National Championship game history.[1]

The Tigers won the game, 35–31, after coming back from a 14–0 deficit earlier in the game. Clemson scored the game-winning touchdown with one second left in the game. Surrounded...

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Head to Head debates the biggest topics in college football. This week, in the wake of the AP Top 25 being turned upside down and seven previously undefeated teams losing, our panel discusses whether or not there will be an undefeated team in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Welcome to the show.

Week 6 in the NCAA was what college football is supposed to be -- complete chaos. It happens every year. This season we have the College Football Playoff. A system, once and for all, will determine a true college football champion. Only one team will be standing on Jan. 12, 2015.

The People Who Talk About College Football are wondering if there will be a team that can make a run to the playoffs without a loss. The people who ponder this question usually say, "There is no way a team will make the playoffs without a loss. Alabama lost! Bama is a shining example of everything great about college football!" Never mind that Alabama lost its past three games...

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Alabama got hit pretty hard by graduation. No way they deserve #1 preseason...pure hype. Clemson lost some talent but offensively they should be as dangerous as ever. I'd probably install Clemson as the prohibitive #1 to start the season.

OU....I'm a born and bred Sooner fan. I think OU will have the most fun, exciting offense to watch in the country this year. Defensively OU will be the same as ever....pretty decent but nothing special. I can see OU going undefeated....or losing 3 games.

LSU is way overrated. #5 and they don't even know how good their QB will be? A stuffy run dominated offense backed by a 2nd rate QB, but LSU always has a good defense. I can easily see LSU losing 3 or more this year. Frankly....LSU has been overrated for a few years now.

Tennessee should be improved, but I think a top 10 ranking is wishful thinking. I"m thinking more on the order of #25-20 for those guys, until they prove their chops with wins against good...

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We Need a 32-Team Playoff in College Foorball


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Why College Football Needs a 32-Team Playoff
By Walt Gekko
(Note: This was originally written in December 2009 and was last updated on December 4, 2016)

A playoff is something most fans wanted for years in some way, shape or form to decide the national championship in college football!! While there has been a four-team playoff since 2014, is four teams really sufficient for a playoff?

A four-team playoff finally arrived in 2014, but such has its roots going back a number of years. There is considerable evidence that suggests you could actually need more than that, however:

2009 presented what at the time was the most compelling argument as to why a playoff in college football was needed. That season, were five...

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West Virginia appears poised to crash the College Football Playoff this year. Here are five reasons why they’ll do it.

West Virginia is 6-0 for the first time since the heyday of Pat White, Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt in 2006. Picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll, losses on the defensive side of the ball were supposed to sink the Mountaineers. Though the Big 12 as a conference may be disappointing this year, West Virginia is not. After playing Kansas State closely, they have broken out in conference play, handily beating Texas Tech and TCU.

Though some pegged them as a dark horse team, many have shrugged this off as the luck of a second tier team in a second tier conference. And though the Big 12 may not be the power conference it once was — only three teams are currently ranked — West Virginia should be taken seriously after two statement wins and a 6-0 start. The Mountaineers appear to be poised to make a run through the conference this...

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NOTE: This was written during the BCS era. It is only to show the reasons why the BCS was not the best system and why a playoff is. Now that we have a playoff this isn’t super relevant but remains for nostalgia’s sake to remind us of how bad the BCS was.

It cannot possibly be any more obvious how necessary it is to adopt a playoff for college football. Deciding a champion any other way is simply embarrassing to the sport. If the BCS is going to give us great bowl game matchups, then great, keep it up. But don’t dare to call one of them a national championship. The exclusive club of 65 or so teams that are permitted to play in the national championship probably love the system, but what about the other half of the teams in college football? Even if they win all their games, they’re still not invited to play in the championship. Doesn’t sound very fair to me.

I would like to go point by point over the common arguments against adopting a playoff system in college...

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Interesting question. The BCS has been plagueing college football for quite some time and the NCAA, among many others have finally have brought up the new College Football Playoff system to try and resolve the former's well documented criticisms. There really is no direct answer to your question, it's just as Charles Sterger (the President of the CFP system) says:

"... [ it ] doesn't go too far; it goes just the right amount".

Reading into his quote, he's clearly indicating it could very well have been a number higher than four (no less, of course). But I'd like to say they went with four for two simple reasons: 1. It will give more teams the opportunity to compete for the National Championship, and, 2. Limiting it to four will still ensure only elite teams are going to be playing for a chance in the game. Undoubtedly they have looked at past seasons and must have seen anything above 4 to be the cutoff for these "elite" teams, to become "very good"...

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It took only about 100 years for major college football to get its first postseason playoff.

Now that the inaugural College Football Playoff is finally here, it already doesn't seem to be big enough. And we haven't even played a game yet.

Who didn't see that coming?

On Sunday, the College Football Playoff selection committee announced that No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Ohio State would play in two semifinal games, with the winners meeting in the Jan. 12 College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T in Arlington, Texas.

No. 5 Baylor and No. 6 TCU, which each finished 11-1 and shared the Big 12 regular-season title, were left out of the playoffs. The Bears and Horned Frogs weren't happy about being excluded, and they have every right to be angry. Both had a strong argument for making the playoffs.

When the playoff format was announced two years ago, we knew at least one of the Power 5 conferences...

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The third College Football Playoff rankings had barely been released before Bill Hancock, the CFP's executive director, reiterated that the system is working.

"We are confident," Hancock said Sunday, "that four is the right number."

But eight is so much more fun! And it seems that the majority of fans want the playoff to expand! And every playoff in every major American sport has eventually grown bigger!

"I don't anticipate any discussion about expansion," Hancock said.

Hancock is a prince of a guy, but when it comes to college football's postseason, he's the smiling sheriff of the fun police. Just because the sport's decision-makers aren't interested in exploring an eight-team playoff doesn't mean we can't drum up one.

Why eight teams? Many believe eight is the sweet spot for the college football playoff: more national representation but not too much, and only one more round of competition.

What would an eight-team playoff look like this...

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For the first time in major college football, there is now a playoff bracket. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State will compete for the FBS Championship - that's the Football Bowl Subdivision. Before this year, there was one championship game. The number one ranked team played number two. And those teams were picked using a peculiar formula with the help of computers - always a controversial process. And before 1992, the national champion was chosen by a poll of insiders - again pretty controversial. So now, finally, fans have nothing to complain about.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I think Baylor deserves that four spot.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Five days ago, you told me UT's the number three team in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: The worst loss by far is Ohio State.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: I think it's a combination...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: I know you do.


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There are two undefeated teams in college football. One (Alabama) is playing for the national championship, while the other (Western Michigan) never had a real chance to do so this season.

The Broncos could have won 20 games this regular season and it wouldn’t really matter. The Playoff Committee has sent a message about who they’ll let in the Playoff with benefit of the doubt as an established brand name, and who they won’t. Western Michigan is not in the sport’s upper echelon, commonly referred to as the Power 5. The P5 consists of the schools in the Pac-12, Big 12, ACC, SEC, and Big Ten. Notre Dame’s in the mix there, too, despite a 4-8 record in 2016.

WMU plays in the MAC, one of the Group of 5 schools. That means that according to the committee they’re not worthy until they prove their merits more than once. The G5 includes the MAC, WAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, and American. To his credit, coach PJ Fleck knew his team would miss the Playoff party, and was...

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UPDATE (Dec. 6, 1:03 a.m.): Despite all the articles FiveThirtyEight published about the different scenarios that could end the college football season, all that chaos never materialized. The playoff committee’s choice is clear: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Michigan State should be the four teams to make the playoff.

In case you’re a visual learner, here are our model’s playoff projections:

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All that’s really unknown going into the final committee rankings on Sunday are the seeding it will give to the four teams. Our model projects those, too:

Clemson has a 92 percent likelihood of snagging the top seed, a position they’ve held in every one of the committee’s rankings thus far. There’s an inertia to these things, and Clemson hasn’t done much to shake the committee’s faith. The 13-0 Tigers finish their season as the only undefeated FBS team, with impressive wins against Notre Dame, Florida State and North Carolina. (Phantom offsides calls...

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As we approach the 2016 College Football Playoff, many are looking at the result as a fait accompli. Ask anybody who is going to win the CFP this year, and 99 percent of them will simply say "Alabama" or "Roll Tide."

It's a sensible answer. Alabama is the defending national champion, and it has looked like the best team in the country from the very first weekend of the season. Still, while Alabama is the favorite for good reasons, this is college football we're talking about here.

Strange things tend to happen in this sport, usually when you least expect them to.

If Alabama reaches the title game, one of the two teams they could possibly face there is Ohio State, and to overlook the Buckeyes is a dangerous gambit. After all, Ohio State was the first champion of the playoff era, and it's also been one of the best teams in the country all season long.

The Buckeyes are a team that can win their second national title in three seasons, and I'm here to tell...

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