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NCAA Football Playoffs: 4 is Good, 12 is Better

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The powers that be in the NCAA are finally starting to think progressively. A four team football playoff is an improvement to the BCS system in which, in my opinion, they only got the championship game right 7 times in 16 years. The BCS focused too much on computers and statistics, instead of football knowledge and the “eye test”. The four team playoff needs to be just a stepping stone to a larger playoff format though.

Just take this year for example. There are more than 4 teams that can rightfully say they deserve to play for a National Championship. More years than not, this is usually the case. Very rarely do more than one or two power conference teams finish the season undefeated. Thus a debate for those deserving will always be had. So here is a novel idea, how about we decide a champion ON THE FIELD, instead of in a secret board room or computer formula. Every other football division has a playoff system, it is time for D1 to step up and do the same. Again, 4 teams is a nice start, but I propose a 12 team playoff format.

Four and eight teams seem to be too small and 16 teams maybe too many. The regular season still needs to matter and I believe 16 teams will limit the impact of the regular season. Therefore 12 teams is the right amount. The playoff committee can still determine the seeding, which you will see in my proposal, will still matter. But I think putting emphasis on conference champions, and again keeping the regular season relevant is important. As a result, here is my NCAA football playoff proposal:

This is the 12 team playoff for this season based on projections if the season ended today. This is the 12 team playoff for this season based on projections if the season ended today.

  • The top 4 teams will be determined by the playoff committee and will get a first round bye. (Similar to the NFL. Provides huge incentives on performing well in the regular season.)
  • The 5 conference champions of power conferences are guaranteed a home playoff game. Therefore they will be automatically in the top 8.
  • Outside of the 5 conference champions, the other 7 teams again will be determined by the playoff committee.
  • A non-conference champion can be slated in the top 4 if determined by the playoff committee. However, a conference champion cannot be out of the top 8, giving them a home playoff game.
  • Round one games will be at the higher seeds home field a week after the conference championship games. The match-ups will be 5 vs 12; 6 vs 11; 7 vs 10; and 8 vs 9.
  • Round two games will be a week after round one. Seeds 1,2,3,4 will host. The lowest remaining seed will play the 1 seed; the second lowest will play the 2 seed and so on with seeds 3 and 4. Again putting emphasis on the regular season to get the highest seed possible.
  • The semi-final games will be January 1st and they will be in the same format as the playoff is set this year. Meaning the “big bowls” will rotate the semi-final games annually. The lowest remaining seed will play the highest remaining seed.
  • The championship game will be normally scheduled the second Monday after January 1st.
  • The losers of round one will be inserted in a bowl game in January, allowing them to play one extra game as every other team in the playoff, thus making more money.
  • The ticket sales from the playoff games will be split among ALL the playoff schools, but all concession sales will be kept by the home teams, generating more revenue.
  • Money made from viewership will be split among the competing conferences as they are for the bowl games. Again, generating more money. (Isn’t that what this is all about?!)


I believe creating a playoff format like this will take away any debate about who the true champion is. Devil’s advocate will say there will be a debate about who the top 12 are. This debate will without a doubt take place. But it is easier to determine a top 12 then a top 4. Fewer arguments can be made if you are not in the top 12. Plus this format guarantees conference champions their just due by allowing them to earn their spot in the playoffs and a home game. On top of all of it, this kind of system will create some very intriguing match ups, allow fans bases to travel to stadiums never traveled before, be a lot of fun to analyze and watch, and again, it will make everyone involved a whole lot of money!

Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Mike Banyasz

0 Responses to NCAA Football Playoffs: 4 is Good, 12 is Better

  1. Profile photo of Berk Gencer

    Berk Gencer

    November 19, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Nice article. I like the thought you put into the 12 team format. I had really thought an 8 team format was the best option, but after reading this 12 really makes sense because the first round bye would be very important in keeping the regular season extremely competitive. I also think that an extra home game in the playoff would be great for all schools involved and make conference championships all the more important as well. The argument of student athletes and extra games will definitely be brought up, but who know maybe these guys will be getting paid soon too…

    What are your thoughts on marshall being undefeated and how they fit in to this equation?

  2. Profile photo of Mike Banyasz

    Mike Banyasz

    November 19, 2014 at 3:32 am

    Marshall is a tough subject. On one hand they will have beaten everyone on their schedule, which there is nothing more then you can do. But on the other hand, are they truly a top team. I think in my proposal of 12 teams, they should get an opportunity. But just 4 as it is now, there is no way. Those would be tough decisions for the committee.

    As far as extra games for student athletes. In high school to win a state championship, you play 15 games. In every other level of college football, to win a championship, you play 14 to 15 games. Adding these games in D1 wouldn’t be any different then those. Plus also remember, they may not be playing in the weeks leading up to the bowls, but they’re still practicing. So it’s not like any more time at football is added. I’d argue having that much time off between games is unsafe anyways. (And i have opinions on them getting paid as well. Another article, another time. )

  3. Profile photo of Whisper


    November 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I would like the 12 game format from the perspective that Football is a brutal sport so on any given day someone can get injured, have a standout performance or lose a player that changes everything. There are multiple teams this year that have been affected by this which has either allowed or prevented them from being in the top 4. In the case of Ohio State, Braxton’s injury forced a Freshman to come in and play immediately, costing a loss against a terrible Virginia Tech team. My point is, by expanding to the 12 teams, you allow for those ” beyond our control” type issues that great teams always find a way to overcome anyway. The thought is, yes they might lose 1 game because of it during the process, but that doesn’t make them any less elite. 12 teams allows for that cushion, and makes every game in the playoffs more competitive and fun to watch. Most importantly, you can end the season feeling good about who the champion is, as all the contenders had their shot.

  4. Profile photo of Blake Giusti

    Blake Giusti

    December 8, 2014 at 1:42 am

    Hey man great job on this article. I too, before reading this, I thought 12 would be excessive and it would ruin the regular season. The top 4 teams getting a bye is genius. It keeps the regular season relevant.
    I see you mentioned that you have an opinion on players being paid. I look forward to seeing that article. Good Job.

  5. Profile photo of Austin Geller

    Austin Geller

    December 11, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Love it. I am really frustrated they went to a 4 team bracket, although I am happy the got rid of the BCS.

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