Let’s make it fair, NCAA. It’s time to expand the College Football Playoff.

Brett Esch
3 min readJul 10, 2021
Former Ohio State QB Justin Fields — image via Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Prior to the 2014–15 season, the NCAA formally announced that the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) would utilize a playoff bracket at the conclusion of the regular season to determine a national champion.

It was a welcome change in the world of college sports, as prior to this announcement national champions were determined by a single game between the number one- and two-ranked teams in the final BCS ranking. And prior to that, there wasn’t even a game — champions were decided strictly by whoever was number one in the final Associated Press poll.

But now, finally, the champion was going to be crowned on the field.

There was a catch, however (when is there not one with the NCAA). Instead of sticking with the ranking system college football had followed for years on end, they found a way to muddy the waters once again. A committee of voters — from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to University of Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte — would determine who got an invitation to the four-team playoff.

It’s purely subjective. And a very, very small bracket.

However, for the past seven seasons, the CFP has provided for some wildly entertaining football. From Ezekiel Elliott’s domination of Oregon in the inaugural title game to Justin Fields’ six-touchdown performance in this past season’s semifinal blowout of Clemson, fans have fallen in love with division one playoff football — which is exactly what the NCAA was aiming for when the idea became a reality in 2015.

Despite the system’s undeniable success, the governing body is still dealing with the same critiques that existed prior to the CFP’s installment. Seemingly every season, schools who are left out of the top four claim to be ‘snubbed’ of a rightful and deserving chance to play for the national title — and most times, they’re right.

That’s why now is as good of a time as any to do what many fans have called for with increasing support over the past few years: expand the College Football Playoff.

And while making this a reality might seem complicated, the reality is that it’s actually quite simple. I’m going to break down exactly how I would make it happen, as I believe this format would be beneficial to all parties involved in the CFP process.

  • Eight teams invited to the College Football Playoff on an annual basis
  • Seeds 1–5 awarded to the ‘Power Five’ conference champions (automatic bids)
  • Seeds 6–7 awarded to two ‘Power Five’ conference at-larges
  • 8th seed awarded to the highest-ranked ‘Group of Five’ conference team

Notes to consider:

*In order to eliminate the subjectivity of a committee, the final ranking would be determined by the BCS formula used prior to the CFP — which accounts for overall record, conference record, strength of schedule, and numerous other factors.

*Automatic bids for ‘Power Five’ conference champions would elevate the impact of each regular season game (which naturally increases parity within each conference).

*At-large ‘Power Five’ conference bids would make for intriguing late-season matchups.

*The default inclusion of a ‘Group of Five’ conference team would encourage competitive play at that level, thus improving the overall quality of FBS football as a whole.

With this playoff system — or one similar to it — fans would enjoy a much more competitive and passionate regular season of FBS football on a yearly basis. With *literally* every team having a shot to see postseason action, college football could capitalize on plenty of unique opportunities, such as the ability to ‘flex’ important games to primetime slots, similar to the NFL.

Most importantly though, it would take this level of play back to the value that makes football the most popular sport in America: crowning a champion on the field — not by a committee’s judgement or media consensus.

A fair playoff system is essential to the game of football.

Let’s make it happen, NCAA.

Originally published at https://baesch.substack.com.



Brett Esch

Native Texan. Communication Arts major at Bethel College. Sports and freelance journalist.