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2019 College Football Playoff Field, The Way It Should Be

The 2019 college football season has come to a regular season conclusion, all except for the traditional Army/Navy Game and the ten conference championships. If college football were to adopt my expanded playoff format then we would not have to worry about conference championships. The conference championships are purposely designed for increased conference monies. The most interesting fact about the conference championships this week is that of the 8 conference championship games this coming Saturday, 12 of the 16 FBS teams competing are already seeded in my fictional expanded playoff format of 16 teams. That means that 75% of those FBS would have been all ready playing in a first round playoff game and hosting.

What my expanded playoff format of 16 FBS programs does, is allows all FBS programs fair, equal and just opportunity to compete for the $50 Million dollars on the table, the gold trophy and the notoriety to compete to be called “National Champions” the right way. I believe that Stephen Finn said it best “a season long championship includes narrative possibilities that offer enriching experiences, but a playoff system provides us with , to put it simply, a better story” (Finn, 2009). Thus, the FBS college football season is what Finn defines as the season long championship of narratives with enriching experiences. The college football 15 week season has its rivalries, upsets, twists, turns and expected outcomes.

The College Football Playoff (CFP) system does offer a small sliver of playoff type atmosphere to the 38-plus million college football fans. However, the CFP only serves the purpose of the exclusive brand name Power Five (P5) Conferences and Notre Dame will have “exclusive” right to the money on the table, the gold trophy and the status of being called national champion. The power brokers of college football ESPN, the CFP Executives and the CFP committee of 13 members who are educators fail to make the selection process to allow all FBS members opportunity at the stakes at hand. The CFP executives, ESPN, and the 13 member selection committee; vehemently deny the Group of Five (G5) Conference members and Independent members the same opportunities as the P5.

The only chance the G5 members and Independents have to earn a large payout of $10 Million is based upon the committee members hands only allowing one, just one G5 member to participate in what is called the New Years Six Day Bowl Game. This means that the G5 members and Independents, excluding Notre Dame are being denied an opportunity to gain financial rewards and notoriety. Since large sums of money and financial interests accompanies college football at the highest level of the FBS, then it can be determined that college athletics is a business, generating revenue dollars which allows them to provide large coaching salaries of up to 6-digits and not to exceed 7-digits, to pay for top name coaches.

To be crystal clear, for any FBS member school to compete at the FBS level of play, then they must meet and accept the NCAA standards and bylaws within the Division 1 Manual. This means that all FBS members must meet NCAA Bylaw 3.01 through NCAA Bylaw 3.6. Then in addition to that, then the FBS members schools must meet the FBS standards which is related to NCAA Proposition 20. NCAA Proposition 20, states EACH FBS member must offer and sponsor a minimum of 16 NCAA Scholarship Men’s and Women’s sports (including football) and must offer equal or more Women’s sports than Men’s, they must meet Title IX requirements, abide by student athlete academic rules and guidelines, meet attendance requirements, must offer 200 athletic scholarships and or spend $4 million on athletic scholarships per year, and finally FBS teams must provide at least 90% of the maximum number of football scholarships which is at 85 scholarships. Seems there are several hurdles, guidelines and business principles for amateurism sports which in turn indicates a HUGE business model backed by sponsors, television contracts and other revenue dollars.

Just thought I would offer a clear explanation on how the Democritus and bifurcated system the CFP really is, in addition to the rules and bylaws the 130 members of FBS college football from 10 conferences and Independents must adhere to. This means its the sports media of ESPN, CBS and the SEC who has created the P5 and G5 labels to create the divide. If there was no divide and all 130 FBS member programs were created and treated as equals, and there was an expanded playoff format then there would be no worry if a 0-loss program lost late or early. There would also be no worry if a 1-loss program ended the season at 1-loss and worried if they would make the current College Football Playoff (CFP4). My expanded playoff takes that true and natural stress away and still keeps every game on the schedule important.

Before I reveal my fictional 16 team playoff brackets, let’s review the 2019 FBS season. Of the 130 FBS programs; 3 ended the regular season with 0-losses (Clemson, LSU and Ohio State). There were 7 FBS programs that ended the season with 1-loss and there were 12 FBS programs that ended the season with 2-losses. This means that 20 of the 130 FBS programs are playoff eligible within my standards and selection process. There were a total of 80 FBS programs that earned bowl eligibility of earning 6 wins or more during the regular season. On the back half of the FBS programs, there were 12 FBS programs that fell just short of the with 5 wins and close to bowl eligibility. During the last quarter mile of the FBS season there were 3 FBS programs at 0-wins. However, at the conclusion of the 2019 FBS season, there were only 1 FBS program; Akron from the MAC, that ended the season with 0-wins.

If the NCAA and FBS members would adopt my expanded playoff format, there would be no worries for those 0-loss programs losing late or early. There would be no worries from 1-loss programs trying to determine if they did enough to stay in the conversation and stayed at 1-loss. Both groups of 0-loss and 1-loss FBS programs would be in. My expanded playoff system of 16 puts the emphasis on 2-loss programs to stay at 2-loss and keep competitive. My playoff format eliminates conference championship weekend and the possibility of being left out of a playoff spot.

Now for the 2019 Fictional Field of 16 FBS expanded playoffs:

First Round Games play at Higher Seed site on Saturday December 7, 2019:

Seed #1 Ohio State (12-0) vs. Seed #16 Penn State (10-2) at Ohio State

Seed #8 Utah (11-1) vs. #9 Seed Oklahoma (11-1) at Utah

Seed #5 Boise State (11-1) vs. Seed #12 Wisconsin (10-2) at Boise State

Seed #4 Georgia (11-1) vs. Seed #13 Cincinnati at Georgia

Seed #3 Clemson (12-0) vs. Seed #14 SMU (10-2) at Clemson

Seed #6 Appalachian State (11-1) vs. Seed #11 Notre Dame (10-2) at Appalachian State

Seed #7 Memphis (11-1) vs. Seed #10 Baylor (11-1) at Memphis

Seed #2 LSU (12-0) vs Seed #15 Minnesota (10-2) at LSU

Quarter Finals Round, Round of 8 played at First Four Bowl Sites on Saturday December 21, 2019:

Winner 1/16 vs. Winner 8/9 at the Cure Bowl (Orlando)

Winner 5/12 vs. Winner 4/13 at Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas)

Winner 3/14 vs. Winner 6/11 at Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton)

Winner 7/10 vs Winner 2/15 at the New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans)

Semi Finals Winners play at scheduled designated bowl sites on Saturday December 28, 2019.

Cure Bowl Winner vs. Las Vegas Bowl Winner at Fiesta Bowl

Boca Raton Bowl Winner vs. New Orleans Bowl Winner at Peach Bowl

Finals played at the National Championship Game on January 6, 2020 in New Orleans.

Below is the data I used to assist in selecting and seeding the fictional field of 16 FBS programs:

TEAM RECORDNCG H/ANC OPNC ONLYOVRL OPCONF OPFCS
1 OHIO STATE (12-0)3H/0A(18-18) .500(5-7) .417(74-70) .514(35-46) .432NO
2 LSU (12-0)3H/1A(21-15) .583(5-6) .455(72-60) .545(27-37) .422YES
3 CLEMSON (12-0)3H/1A(18-18) .500(6-6) .500(63-69) .477(27-39) .409YES
4 GEORGIA (11-1) 3H/1A(20-16) .556(7-6) .538(73-59) .533(30-34) .469YES
5 BOISE STATE (11-1)2H/2A(21-15) .583(7-8) .467(69-64) .519(29-35) .453YES
6 APPALACHIAN ST. (11-1) 2H/2A(17-19) .472(5-6) .455(61-71) .462(28-36) .438YES
7 MEMPHIS (11-1) 2H/2A(11-15) .306(4-8) .333(66-65) .504(34-30) .531YES
8 UTAH (11-1) 2H/1A(12-12) .500(4-7) .364(65-67) .492(36-45) .444YES
9 OKLAHOMA (11-1)2H/1A(8-16) .333(2-5) .286(66-66) .500(37-44) .457YES
10 BAYLOR (11-1) 3H/0A(7-17) .292(1-7) .125(81-62) .566(37-44) .457YES
11 NOTRE DAME (10-2) 3H/2A(32-28) .533(12-7).632(81-62) .566(35-24) .593NO 
12 WISCONSIN (10-2) 2H/1A(18-18) .500(5-7) .417(82-62) .569(43-38) .531NO 
13 CINCINNATI (10-2) 2H/2A(31-17) .646(6-8) .429(77-67) .535(25-39) .391NO 
14 SMU (10-2) 2H/2A(19-29) .396(6-9) .400(69-74) .483(29-35) .453NO 
15 MINNESOTA (10-2) 2H/1A(11-13) .458(4-4) .500(63-69) .477(33-48) .407YES
16 PENN STATE (10-2) 3H/0A(14-10) .583(5-3) .625(77-55) .583(42-39) .519YES

FBS Programs Under Consideration but Failed to Make the Field of 16: (10-2) Air Force, (10-2) Oregon, (10-2) Louisiana Lafayette, (10-2) Alabama and (10-2) Florida.

GRID: Ranked Team(Record)– indicates the rank of the FBS program and their current record; NCG H/A– indicates the number of non conference games played and where they were played in relationship to their 2019 FBS schedule.  OPP OVRL– indicates the combined records of each specific ranked FBS programs scheduled win loss records and percentage rate of the whole 2019 schedule;  OPP NCOVRL– indicates the records of each specific ranked FBS programs scheduled non conference games versus FBS programs combined season total of win loss records and percentage rate for and within that FBS ranked programs non conference schedule for 2019, NC ONLY– indicates the records of each specific ranked FBS programs win loss record and percentage rate of those FBS teams they scheduled associated within their non conference schedule ONLY to assist in non conference credibility strength of schedule, CONF– indicates the combined records of each specific ranked FBS programs conference schedule win loss records and percentage rate to assist in conference strength of schedule and FCS – Did the selected and seeded FBS program schedule an FCS team during the 2019 FBS season.

If you examine the 2019 FBS fictional expanded field of 16 the field breaks down as: 2 from the American Conference, 1 from the Atlantic Coast Conference, 4 from the Big 10 Conference, 2 from the Big 12 Conference, 1 Independent, 1 from the Mountain West Conference, 1 from the Pac 12 Conference, 2 from the Sun Belt Conference and 2 from the Southeastern Conference. A wide variety of conferences represented in this playoff field. The conferences that did not make the field were Conference USA and The Mid American Conference. The highest ranked for both of those conferences are; (9-3) Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic and UAB followed by (8-4) Central Michigan. Stephan Finn (2009) said it best ” A playoff system, by contrast, offers a culminating event that increases tension and drama; it produces more uncertainty and thereby heightens one’s interest in the outcome; it allows a distinction between types of games, where athletes are challenged in different ways” (Finn, 2009).

As you have reviewed the fictional 2019 playoff field, many of you will say no Alabama and no Florida. When seeding and selecting its easier to explain the reasons why a 2-loss team did not make the field versus explaining why a 1-loss team did not make the field. I will write another post explaining why Alabama and Florida did not make my field of 16.

To draw a conclusion, if college football and athletics is about amateurism, then why all the money, rules and regulations on governing and operating the programs under the NCAA logo. What can be determined is that college athletics is a 9-digit Million dollar business, generating revenue dollars like a business. Then in turn, the G5 and Independent FBS programs, Conference Commissioners, Directors of Athletics for each G5 and Independent FBS program, Head Coach and Student-Athletes should investigate the Sherman Act of 1890 and the Clayton Act of 1914. This would protect them in an suit against the power brokers of the CFP and the P5 leaders who are making all the decisions on the current bifurcated and Democritus playoff system.

The data and statistics do not lie. It does however provide a different perspective on how the reality of each FBS football team can be evaluated with an improved understanding. The subjective assessment in which coaches vote and rank are dependent on their credibility to rank efficiently without possessing a bias. Proving that no matter what your conference affiliation is, who your coaching friends are or what constituencies have financially backed you. Rankings are not meant to be miss leading but possess a true reality to how programs are performing against each other, at the same level of play and by the same rules.

As always, please cite the source in APA/MLA format if you use any of my information, IF I DO NOT GIVE YOU CONSENT. This means; the sports media in print, television or radio; I am available for interview to discuss my college rankings, college football content and more specifically the college football playoffs. If you have any questions, comments or would like to discuss this further, reach out to me on twitter @cfbpoexpert or leave a comment in the comment section. I am also available for interview to discuss my perspective on college football and my research into expanding the playoffs for college football.

Finn, Stephan. (2009). In Defense of the Playoff System. Journal of the Philospophy of Sport. (36) 1. 66-75.

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