The dream never dies.

Air Force’s football coach Troy Calhoun really wants to bring Cinderella to the college football playoff prom.

It was the sports fan – and Air Force/Group of Five advocate – in Calhoun who pitched his latest idea for the College Football Playoff.

Calhoun would take the field to eight and break it down like this:

1. ACC champ

2. Big Ten champ

3. Big 12 champ

4. Pac-12 champ

5. SEC champ

6. Wild card

7. Wild card

8. Group of Five playoff winner

That Group of Five playoff would consist of four entrants. He didn’t specify how those four would be determined. Maybe it would be the top-rated champions among the Group of Five. Maybe the top rated regardless of conference.

Point is, as a fan, he wants this process to be open to all involved, and he routinely cites Cinderella stories from other college sports as an example.

“I think it would, really, bring a wholeness that would be splendid for the spirit of college football,” Calhoun said.

That’s an eleven-team playoff, when you get down to it.  Why wouldn’t a sixteen-team playoff be even more whole?

The problems with this proposal are pretty apparent.

The most obvious issue is the sheer number of games involved. At a minimum, the team that wins the Group of Five playoff and moves onto the College Football Playoff would have to play three extra games — two G5 playoff games and then a CFP quarterfinal — which is more than what current CFP finalists have to play. At a maximum, that team would play five extra postseason games. Tack that onto a 13-game season and, theoretically, a Group of Five team could play 18 games. That’s more than most NFL teams. We can’t keep asking college football players to play more and more games without paying them a salary.

Secondly, it’s uncertain what type of market demand, if any, there is for more Group of Five teams in a playoff of any kind. For example, the idea of a second playoff involving Group of Five teams has enough legs that it won’t completely die. But in the quest for that next media rights pot of gold on the other end of the rainbow, it’s unknown just how full that pot really is. In February, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier told CBS Sports “the concept he first floated in an ESPN interview may be worth at least $160 million per year to a TV rights-holder.

I suspect that second point is really what’s driving this.  The mid majors see the P5 conferences making all that sweet playoff bank and want their own taste of it.  As a standalone concept, that $160 million is likely to be little more than a pipe dream, but as part and parcel of an expanded CFP, it might have more legs.  Which ought to be a huge comfort to those kids asked to play in their eighteenth game of the season.

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36 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

36 responses to “The dream never dies.

  1. These are certainly not original thoughts on my part but: 1. The obvious solution to the potential 18 game season for some team is to reduce the number of games in the regular season for everybody. 2. Adopting this would, once and for all, kill off much of the existing bowl season even if the playoff games made use of some of current bowls. Two reasons why this isn’t going to happen.

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  2. Macallanlover

    Not a thing wrong with that proposal, inclusive while remaining exclusive for a 130 team field. More importantly, it gives everyone a path that cannot be blocked by subjectivity and it would certainly contribute to getting us to a true National Champion. No, it will not mean the NC is the best team, no proposal will ever determine that. As with other sports, that debate will always be there and makes for good bar conversations. What is does insure is more excitement throughout all of CFB, and how can that be bad? It also gives us another round of interesting games.

    Houston beat both Oklahoma and Louisville last season and finished just 4th in the American Conference. There are many good teams that can win on any given day so stop with the we need to get the “best 4″….there is no such thing.

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    • There are many good teams that can win on any given day so stop with the we need to get the “best 4″….there is no such thing.

      Designing a postseason format with more than a quarter of the playoff field comprised of mid-majors is certain to guarantee that.

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      • Otto

        The NCAA has allowed far too many teams to move up from FCS. You add scholarship reductions from what D1 was and yes you get parity which really takes away from the greatness of college football. I want to Clash of the Titans not Cinderella. If I wanted Cinderella I’d watch March Madness which I don’t.

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      • Macallanlover

        I saw only one spot guaranteed for the Group of 5, that is 12.5% of the spots, and there is always a decent candidate among them. One spot for almost half of the teams in D1 is hardly over representing them, imo.

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    • Cojones

      Mac is correct. Take it to the 8-team level and be done with it. Nit-picking one of those suggestions as a weak link that negates the idea is silly and shows that the Senator is playing a con game on those who would not see his ploy as disingenuous.

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  3. TnDawg

    More games means more injuries. Where is the concern for player safety?
    Fewer regular season games equals reduced income. Don’t think that will happen. Given the drive to pay players.

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    • Macallanlover

      Actually, adding one round is only one more game to two teams. I hope UGA gets to play that extra game one season. Playoffs in every sport adds extra games, if safety is more important than the playoffs, eliminate them and let the season’s last game be the final one and save everyone the extra practice for the bowls.

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  4. Uglydawg

    You can’t give a team a bye in a college football playoff system. The advantage of that would be so great as to be ridiculous. Football games are almost incomparable to basketball games when it comes to rest and preparation. Any odd numbered set is crazy.

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    • Why not? Reward teams that were outstanding in the regular season with a week off like the NFL does with the 2 teams with the best record in each conference. Using that logic, there should be a bye week at the same time for every school, so the team with a bye the week before doesn’t have an advantage in the regular season.

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      • Otto

        Compared to what? 2 teams playing for a title no playoff? Some teams playing a conference championship other teams not playing a championship game? 8 vs 9 game conference schedules?

        Top 6 playoff, top 2 get a 1st round bye. It gives major incentive to schedule out of conference and makes winning out very meaningful. It avoid NFL throw away games for team who have clinched.

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        • I agree with you. At 6 (my preferred option), the top 2 get a bye. I was only responding to Ugly’s reaction that a bye is ridiculous in a CFP scenario because of the advantage to the teams that earn the bye.

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          • Otto

            Agreed and my post was in support of your reply

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          • Macallanlover

            BS, there is no “Top 2”, no one knows at that point. More subjectivity with a big advantage awarded someone who may not even be worthy. I certainly wouldn’t have put Clemson in the Top 2 last year (not even the Top 4) but they blew ohio out of the stadium. ND would have gotten one of those byes in 2012 and they weren’t even a Top 10 team as it turned out. Let every team earn their way to the title, with 2 wild cards being in on a level playing field.

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            • I wish the whole thing was 8 teams with champions only, but that ship sailed long ago and would require structural changes to the sport that would likely end most of its traditions. The BCS standings got a bad rap, but I would prefer that method to select the final 4 to the behind closed doors crap we currently have with the committee. You can always point to an exception to prove your point. Accept there is no perfect solution … I hate the idea of wild cards. It’s another step toward NFL Light. Alabama in 2011 was the ultimate wild card, and I hated that they got a 2nd bite at the apple.

              If you’re going to have a playoff that isn’t 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, 48, 64, etc., you are going to have byes – it’s math.

              Therefore, at this time, 4 appears right to me with at most 6. Teams 7 and 8 likely have no claim to be national champion in a large majority of years.

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              • Throw out 24 and 48. Math is hard.

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              • Macallanlover

                Those aren’t exceptions, they are illustrations of the impossibility of knowing who, in advance, knows the 2 teams who get the byes. Answer, no one. Have eight and bury this idea of giving someone a W while they sit home. Why would anyone ever do this? Level the playing field, don’t tilt it.

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                • Do you really believe teams 5-8 have a legitimate claim as the best team in the country for the full season? Every one of them is typically fundamentally flawed and were exposed in the regular season. When you get to 8, what’s your response to teams 9-16?

                  I’m actually a 4-team advocate with a formula combining the polls, the computer rankings, conference championships, losses and strength of schedule. I don’t want wild cards in the playoff, but if they can objectively meet the criteria to make the final 4, fine. It cheapens the value of the regular season, but to each his own.

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                  • Macallanlover

                    I think the difference is you see a NC as identifying “the best team in the country”. That is Mission Impossible, for football or any other sport. You only identify who is the best at that particular time (game, tournament, series, etc.) We will always argue about who was the best for that season, or moment. Tiger Woods was the best golfer on the planet for many years but he didn’t win every major he entered during those years.

                    Do you honestly think Clemson was the best team in CFB last season? I doubt they were in the Top 4 when chosen, but they took advantage of their chance, good on them. A missed 30 yard FG by an NC State kicker is all that got them in the Top 10. Does good fortune make them “the best” for 2016. I would say no, but they are undeniably the MNC for 2016. I would say Alabama was the best throughout the year, but that is one man’s opinion.

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                    • All I want is a system that doesn’t cheapen the importance of the best regular season in sports. Anything beyond 4 that includes wild cards does that for me.

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  5. AusDawg85

    I would argue that is a 16 team playoff when you include the Power 5 conference championship games. I expect we’ll see this or something very similar by 2025.

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  6. Southernlawyer11

    The American Athletic Conference champion deserves a place at the table. Plain and simple. They are .500 against the ACC over the past 2 years, sent more players to the NFL than the Big 12 in 2017 and simply play really good football. FWIW, there are probably 4-5 teams in the AAC that could beat any bottom 11 team in the SEC on any given Saturday. Again, I’m not sure what that means but take it for what it’s worth. It’s probably another way of saying there are 4-5 teams in that conference that would be competitive in the SEC.

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    • FWIW, there are probably 4-5 teams in the AAC that could beat any bottom 11 team in the SEC on any given Saturday.

      That’s some standard of excellence you’ve set there, man.

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      • Otto

        It is one thing to play a handful of P5 games winning 50% of the time and another to have the depth to do it over a season.

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        • southernlawyer11

          is 10-10 the past 2 seasons enough. I watched a middle of the road Memphis team, with a brand new head coach, hanging until late in the 3rd quarter with the same Ole Miss team I watched in the same stadium a week earlier put the screws to us. Hell the year before I watched memphis beat the sugar bowl champion rebels decisively. Right now, the AAC would mop the floor with the SEC East. I dont particularly like that but it’s a fact.

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          • Otto

            10-10 is not enough. If youthe conference should be P5, they need to win more. Disagreed on the AAC mopping the floor with the SEC east.

            The AAC went 2-5 in the bowl season. The vast majority of the conference does not have the depth to go a full season.

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      • southernlawyer11

        I watch a lot of AAC football and a lot of SEC East football. You honestly don’t want to start this argument.

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  7. Dolly Llama

    I’ve written this several times here in the past, but here’s the solution:

    Consolidate the Power Five to Power Four. (This here up top is why it won’t happen.)
    The Power Four division champs make up the eight playoff spots. So each conference will have two teams in the eight-team playoff.
    The winners of those games (i.e., your four Power Four conference champs) make up the final four.
    The winners of those two games play in the National Championship game.

    It doesn’t add a single game to anyone’s schedule past what it would be under the current regime. It allows each conference to pick its division and overall champions however they want. And there’s no “bye week” bullshit, which is profoundly unfair in football.

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  8. 69Dawg

    The solution will be coming soon, the FBS will be divided. The Power 5 and Others. Let the Others have their own playoff and Championship. Now everybody gets a chance at a trophy. They will also learn that ESPN is running out of money and will not pay top dollar for Div IA+ football as long as the Power 5 is collecting the big bucks. Hell go with the British Premire league model and have relegation. If Vandy sucks Vandy goes down and the best team in the Southeastern foot print joins the SEC. Wake Forest sucks goodbye ACC. Hell I’m sure Houston would love to step up and take some weak teams place. Traditions are gone anyway lets just quit pussy footing around.

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