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What Would a 16-Team College Football Playoff Look Like in 2017?


Now that the College Football Playoff selection committee has decided which four teams will compete for the national championship, we can all sit back and offer up our opinions on what they did wrong and how the system could be better.

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Every year, I toss in my two cents via a 16-team playoff plan. It's beautiful, and it's perfect.

My plan for a 16-team playoff gives every team in the FBS a path to a national title while also retaining a purpose for a College Football Playoff selection committee.

Just like the eight-team playoff I presented, a 16-team system would involve giving out automatic bids to conference champions. Unlike an eight-team scenario, those automatic bids would go to every conference champion, not just those teams that win a Power 5 conference. That's 10 conferences, 10 automatic bids.

You would then use the current College Football Playoff selection committee rankings to fill the final six slots with at-large bids. Those at-large bids would go to the highest-ranked six teams that did not win their conference.

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You would default once again to the rankings to determine seeding. Any teams that win their conference yet remain unranked will be seeded accordingly by the committee. For the purpose of this exercise, I will serve as the committee.

We now have a clean, 16-team bracket full of all 10 conference champions and six of the best teams in the country as determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee. Many will argue that 16 teams is too many, however, that would be the smallest playoff bracket at any level of college football — NCAA or NAIA.

The higher-seeded teams would host the first two rounds of games. The semifinals and national championship game would rotate among the bowls and neutral sites annually, just as they do now.

If this system were put into place today, here is how a 16-team College Football Playoff bracket would look in 2017:




No. 16


No. 1


(Sun Belt champion)


(ACC champion)




No. 9


No. 8




(Pac-12 champion)




No. 12


No. 5


(AAC champion)


(Big Ten champion)




No. 13


No. 4


(Mountain West champion)



No. 14


No. 3


(MAC champion)


(SEC champion)




No. 11


No. 6








No. 10


No. 7








No. 15


No. 2


(Conference USA champion)


(Big 12 champion)

Look at that. Ten champions, the best teams in the country, the only undefeated team in the country and Lane Kiffin.

What more could you ask for?

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo!, SBNation and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.