CFP solution: Why not create Power Five conference semifinals?

College Football Playoff logoWhy don’t the Power Five conferences have semifinals?

Now, don’t dismiss. Just hear me out. … You’re very quick to dismiss.

I’d like to offer a proposal for the ongoing debate about who should make it into the College Football Playoff, especially the argument about why conference champions should not be omitted. To many, the solution is to expand the CFP to six or eight teams. I’m suggesting the playoff expansion start from within the schedule of Power Five conferences.

Again, just hear me out.

The College Football Playoff would be for only the Power Five conference champions and one wild-card team. The champion would be determined from the top two teams in the divisions within the conference (so that means each conference would need to have two divisions … looking at you Big 12).

(The other non-semifinal conference teams would be paired for inter-divisional games on a TBD campus on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving or on the Thursday and Friday before championship Saturday).

How would this whole thing work?

  • In each conference, every team would play everyone else in its respective division (just as it is currently).
  • Each team’s schedule would include just the one common, opposite-division opponent (to be played each season – just as it is currently in most conferences). One of the rotating, opposite-division spots on the schedule would be eliminated. There would still be 12 games on the schedule because that spot on the schedule would go to the season’s end for either 1) conference semifinal or 2) a game against a selected, inter-divisional opponent.
  • The “regular season” would end on the weekend before Thanksgiving (and we’re assuming all conferences adhere to the same type of scheduling, therefore preserving all season-ending, inter-conference rivalry games — e.g., Clemson-South Carolina, Florida-Florida State).
  • On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the top seed from each division would play host to the second seed from the opposite division for the conference semifinals. The championship would be the following weekend at a neutral site.
  • This gives us five conference champions. A committee would select one wild-card team from among the conference runners-up, Notre Dame, BYU or any high-ranking Group of Five team.
  • The top two seeded teams get a bye while the other four play on-campus quarterfinals on the weekend after the Heisman Trophy presentation.
  • Semifinals would be played on New Year’s Day (moving it off New Year’s Eve) and the championship the following week.
  • The remaining conference championship runners-up will go to the respective bowl tie-in (e.g., the Big Ten runner-up, if it is not selected as the CFP wild card, will go to the Rose Bowl).

So, in essence …

  • It is a 20-team (or 21-team if a non-Power 5 team gets the wild card) college football playoff that begins within the conferences.
  • The regular-season schedule isn’t reduced, but, um, enhanced.
  • A selection committee is now in charge of seeding and selecting one team (the wild card) instead of four.

Conducting semifinals likely would ensure the best two teams in the conference would play in the championship, regardless of division. And if a team can make it through the semifinals and a championship, it absolutely deserves a spot in the CFP as a conference champion, regardless of how many regular-season losses it may have.

Yes, this would eliminate the Group of Five teams from consideration. But maybe it’s time those conferences conduct a national championship of its own, as many pundits have suggested.

Agree or disagree? Please let me know in the comments. Or, if you prefer, send your opinion to footballfans@forcollegefootballfans.com.

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