The first year of the College Football Playoff was a resounding success.
Television pulled huge ratings. Athletic departments are richer and conference coffers are overflowing. The bowl games were showcased. The regular season was amplified.
And the fans got the postseason tournament they’ve wanted for decades.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t get better. Here are five ways to improve the College Football Playoff.
Expand to 6 (not 8)
The Playoff’s television contract is in effect for 12 years but no one in any position of power thinks the structure will stick for the full length of the deal. Expansion is coming whether we like it or not, it should just be six teams and not eight. Eight teams allow for three-loss teams to join the conversation and exclusivity is a good thing. Six teams fixes the “conference championship” argument and then some. The top two seeds get byes just like half of the NFL Playoff bracket. It's perfect and the Big 12 can't complain.
Use home sites
Get rid of the stupid bowl games. They mean absolutely nothing and have been grandfathered into a position of extreme power and wealth. The best part of college football isn’t a three-quarters full Superdome, it’s the pageantry of being on campus in the largest venues in American sports. It’s the Horseshoe. It’s the Big House. It’s Between the Hedges and in The Swamp. It’s Death Valley, the Capstone and the 40 Acres. Let’s showcase this part of the sport and award home-field advantage to the better teams while we're at it. Don’t listen to Bill Hancock, there are still 36 other bowl games that keep the sanctity of the bowl system intact. And can you really expect to ask fans to travel to three consecutive neutral site games?
Make the title game truly national
Home sites shouldn't be used for the final tilt, however. This is a national championship game not a regional championship or a Southern championship. The Super Bowl is rotated throughout the country and is played in every region for a reason. This national championship belongs to everyone and should be played all over the place. Indianapolis, Detroit, New York, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area (Santa Clara to be exact) have all proven they can host massive sporting events. Every region of the country deserves to host this great spectacle.
Limit rankings release to three weeks
One of the only major complaints in the first year of the Playoff was the rankings release. It’s completely fabricated by ESPN to drive ratings and create discussion on Tuesdays. It was genius business but isn’t in the best interest of the sport. The rankings need three releases. One at the end of November, one the week before Championship Saturday and a final release on Sunday following.
Semifinals on New Year’s Day
It’s not an issue yet because both semifinals in Year One fell on New Year’s Day. But the ’15 playoff will feature two games on New Year’s Eve. The Rose Bowl’s exclusive spot on New Year’s Day has forced other games to be moved to a far less viewable slot the night before. College football should own New Year’s Day every year like it did last season. Here is yet another reason to remove the bowls from the equation.