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How The College Football Playoffs Can Expand To 8 Teams

On New Year’s Eve, the semi-finals of the College Football Playoff will take place has (1) Clemson takes on (4) Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and (2) Alabama faces (3) Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl. While these teams were thought to be in for the last two weeks, there was some discussion about the exact placement of these teams for the final reveal of the rankings. But what if the placement was not just for four teams but instead for eight teams? Yes, I want an 8-team playoff in college football.

I know this is only year two of the CFP and we are still getting used to it but for all the talk of fairness and transparency, what would have happened if Houston ran the table or Stanford lost only one game instead of two? The same arguments that occurred last year would have occurred once again instead of just putting those other deserving teams in the mix. Here are the top 8 ranked teams in the College Football Playoff rankings after Sunday’s final poll:

1. Clemson (13-0)
2. Alabama (12-1)
3. Michigan State (12-1)
4. Oklahoma (11-1)
5. Iowa (12-1)
6. Stanford (11-2)
7. Ohio State (11-1)
8. Notre Dame (10-2)

In the final eight you get Notre Dame which brings in audiences on both television and wherever the game takes place. You also get the defending National Champion Ohio State looking to defend heir title. The games and excitements write themselves. Can the Buckeyes repeat? Will Notre Dame get back to the top of the college football world? Does Iowa belong with this group of elite teams? Can Alabama’s Jake Coker win a game throwing if Derrick Henry is taken out of the equation? Here are the possible match-ups for my eight team playoff:

Clemson vs. Notre Dame
Alabama vs. Ohio State
Michigan State vs. Stanford
Oklahoma vs. Iowa

The argument against an eight-team playoff is mainly logistics. In an eight-team tournament, there would be three rounds played within a month which requires travel for teams, fans and school personnel. You also have the student-athletes during finals trying to prep for a playoff series. The logistical part can be solved in one of two ways. One way is to have the quarterfinal games at the home stadiums of the higher seeded team. For example, Clemson would host Notre Dame in Death Valley in the 1st round of the playoff. This way puts an emphasis on the regular season by giving the higher seeded team a home team to begin the tournament saying that if you had an outstanding regular season, you deserve a home playoff game.

The other way to do the eight-team playoff is to use the smaller bowls as quarterfinal sites and assigns teams by region. You have five Midwest teams and two southern teams along with Stanford, who is the only team that may pay the price for being on the West Coast. You put Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Iowa in the southern region (with Iowa being the outlier to compensate for Stanford) and the Midwest would feature Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan State and Stanford in the South and you have some great match-ups.

Possible Midwest Games
Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Michigan State vs. Stanford

Possible South Games
Clemson vs. Alabama
Oklahoma vs. Iowa

With bowls in those regions, you have bowls that take place in St. Petersburg, Florida or Waco, Texas that can be the host sites for the quarterfinal games with the semi-final games also taking place on New Years Eve at the bigger bowls, similar to the way the games are taking place this season. This also gives the smaller bowls some name brand teams which will increase their on-site crowd and television ratings for their games. The sites for the games will also switch from year-to-year so everyone gets a piece of the playoffs.

This eight-team playoff proposal is nothing overwhelming. Does it add another game to the schedules of those teams? Yes it does but they are already playing 13-15 games as it is when the season ends so it’s right in line with what they will be playing in any other season. College, unlike the NFL, keeps close to 80 players dressed on the sideline so this is also a way to also begin more rotation of players in and out throughout the year instead of running players into the ground as we see constantly in college football (see any Alabama running back that goes to the NFL).

Will the CFP go to an eight-team playoff format anytime soon? Of course not. Everyone seems to be happy with what they have now and honestly, I have no major complaints but eight teams bring more excitement and great match-ups during a time when no one cares about bowl games until the playoffs start. You want to make bowl season more interesting then you should open up the college football postseason to more teams.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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