It’s time to completely rethink the way we crown a national champion in college football.
It’s also time to ditch the bowl games that have become increasingly meaningless over the last several years and instead bring a college basketball-style tournament to the sport.
I’m talking about a full-blown 64-68 team tournament that would stretch through the month of December into January, turning those two months into the most exciting months in sports.
I have no doubt that many folks would be against this idea, but once it was a thing — much like the current four-team College Football Playoff — it would be must-see television that would captivate audiences around the country. It would also solve the lack of parity in the sport (unless you’re an Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, or Oklahoma fan, it’s hard to get excited about your favorite team’s chances of reaching the playoff). A college basketball-style tournament would give nearly every program in the country some hope of reaching the postseason.
So how would this work?
That’s the tough part. We don’t really want to see college football programs playing 20 games in a season.
The best method would be to utilize the SEC setup we saw during the 2020 COVID-19 season.
A 10-game regular season — featuring either a conference-only schedule or a nine-game conference schedule with one non-conference game — would be ideal. It would give us an exciting game every week, instead of the typical early-season snoozers we often get.
A conference championship game would mean an 11 game schedule for the Power-5 teams that reach their conference championship game.
The goal would be for no team to play more than 16 games. That might require some creative thinking where conference championship participants get a first-round bye (which would turn some first-round games into essentially a “play-in” game). But even if a bye couldn’t be worked out, there would only be two teams at the most that would play 17 games.
I know this would be a drastic change for the sport. But can you imagine the excitement of selection Sunday for college football? Waiting to see who and where each team would play?
(Instead of neutral site games, it would be ideal to see the higher seed host the games. That way we get more games in the great college football cathedrals. Once it got down to the final four, then we could see neutral site games.)
And then every weekend would be an exciting set of games in the month of December — a month that’s typically dormant for the sport.
Traditionalists will hate this idea. And I get it — it would be a huge change. But I think it would be incredibly exciting and it would give teams outside of Alabama, Clemson, and a few select others, a legitimate chance to compete for a national championship.
One major issue with this setup is the absence of Power-5 teams playing FCS opponents. Those games often help fund FCS programs. But they’re terrible games to watch.
Perhaps we could see a spring-style scrimmage in the fall between Power-5 programs and FCS programs where revenue is split. Or maybe the NCAA could introduce a post-season revenue sharing system that helps funnel funds to FCS programs. There’s plenty of money in the sport to help fund those programs, it’s just a matter of finding a way to get it to those programs.
Outside that of that issue, I think this would be a perfect setup that would give college football more post-season excitement. And it would also give us more meaningful unique matchups in the sport in December and January.
Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports