My turn: The NCAA Division I football playoff system is flawed

My turn: The NCAA Division I football playoff system is flawed
The system places so much emphasis on strength-of-schedule that schools in five of the ten conferences can’t attain a spot in the playoffs because they have to play their obligatory conference schedule. 

What the University of Central Florida football team did on New Year's Day revives for me an argument I made in 2014 regarding the then-new NCAA Division I football playoff system.

I think it is terribly flawed that roughly half of the schools that compete in Division I have zero chance of making it to the national title game.  That's just wrong…and the NCAA doesn't seem to care.

Unless you are a school in one of the "Power Five" conferences, you can't be awarded one of the coveted playoff spots.

The system places so much emphasis on strength-of-schedule that schools in five of the ten conferences can't attain a spot in the playoffs because they have to play their obligatory conference schedule.

It doesn't matter if one of these schools puts together the best team ever, they won't get a chance to be in the championship game.

There is a simple fix for this.  Make it an 8-team playoff and one of those 8 teams must come from a non "Power Five" conference.

It might not give us a Cinderella story every year like we get in the basketball tournament.  But it will give us a what I would term a David and Goliath situation…and that would give the rest of the schools something to shoot for and most college football fans something to cheer about.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved. 

Emailed comments from viewers:

How many games do these kids need to play?
They are supposed to be student athletes, they don't get paid, also the big focus on player safety.
You say 8 games is the solution, what about the #9 team. The ncaa basketball tournament is now I think 68 teams, it started out 32. Money is the driving issue to have more games not being fair to the smaller schools


As I explained in my comment we need a quantitative system that replaces opinion and deals with production not with beauty contest rules. Top 8 no matter what conference you play in. 3 playoff wins and you are the true champ. Oh, BTW. In the quantitative system half of your games are non conference.


Your concern is justified but your facts are not entirely correct.

There is a provision for schools other than the Power Five. It's not a very clear cut rule, but it is there. Notre Dame is one of the schools outside looking in. However, if they have a great year and are high in the rankings, they will get an invite.

I also would like to see an eight team playoff. But, then a ninth team will cry foul.

The sole purpose of the playoff system is to crown a champion. I believe the current format and a potential eight team format achieves that. Only Number One really counts in the end. So far, they've accomplished that.


As you stated in your segment, the current ranking system all but totally excludes schools from outside of the five conferences that are generally referred to as the "Power Conferences." The other five D-1 conferences, more commonly known as the "Group of 5" (G5) have extremely remote chances of having any representation, from any of the Group of 5 schools.

This IS TOTALLY unfair.

The system has been developed as to where the G5 schools are excluded due to scheduling issues which impacts the G5 schools not having a sufficient STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE to earn a way into the playoffs.  The scenario with the University of Central Florida this season is a perfect case in point.

I have had numerous conversations over the past few years regarding the need to develop an all inclusive national championship method that would include all D-1 schools.

In those discussions, I have proposed that the method would include all ten conference champions plus two at large teams based upon some rating system other than human votes.  The Sagarin Rating method is an example of such a system.

Once the teams have been determined, a system similar to the NFL method could be used to determine the champion.  The two at large teams (regardless of conference) would play the two lowest rated conference championship.

I know there would be a huge outcry as to the student athletes would miss too much class time.  I would propose using existing bowl games as playoff games to determine which teams move on until the championship game participants are determined.  Since almost all of the bowl games are played during the Christmas/New Year school break, very little. Class time would be lost.

When considering the length of time, everyone should remember the time required for the NCAA basketball tournament--most of which takes place while schools are IN session.

I realize the Power 5 conferences would resist any kind of change because it could have a significant impact on their financials.  But at the same time, with more schools and conferences involved the chance for expanded interest is tremendous.

I know I have been extremely wordy, but I really think something positive needs to be done to Make the playoffs more equitable for the Group of 5 schools.

Thank you for the opportunity to state my ideas.