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Alternative scenarios to the College Football Playoff system

Let’s play the what if game with five different scenarios that bring positives and negatives.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Features Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the system is broken, at least for G5 schools it is. Every year, I hear the ESPN commercial saying, “All 130 teams can win!”. We all know this as crap, proven by the terrible rankings. I really only see five options that give the G5 a shot at a title. I’m not saying that some of these Power 5 teams do not deserve their ranking for playing tough teams, but the G5 deserves to have a chance. Here are the five options that the G5 has moving forward, otherwise there’s not shot at a title ever.

Option 1: Conference Realignment/Expansion

This seems like the first logical point, especially those in the AAC. I can guarantee you that expanding the amount of teams in each conference, and getting rid of some of the bad teams, would do wonders. For example, let’s take Houston and Kansas. Houston has won a major bowl game in 2015, while Kansas has 3 wins over the last 3 years.

Seeing conferences do not really matter in basketball, they can stay in the Big 12 for basketball. Houston would just take their spot in football. This could be done really with many of the top teams we cover here at Underdog. Some schools like Illinois do not bring much to the table conference-wise other than travel benefits, so they can just move down permanently. Basically, the best move up, while the rest move down to FCS. I will not get too far in-depth with a conference realignment, but I think it is possible to get a good amount of the top G5 teams in the running.


  • Truly, the best teams would represent each big conference.
  • Expanding the conferences allow the G5 teams to make an immediate impact in their conferences.
  • FCS gets teams that are not bad, but not quite ready for the FBS level. Ultimately, FCS gets more competitive.
  • Better recruiting for all schools.


  • The P5 don’t like it because they have to split up the TV revenue.
  • Scheduling would be tough. More games might have to be played.
  • The playoff would need to expand, which is something people are not keen on yet.
  • Not all G5 teams would have a shot. Just the ones that the power conferences would want to pick up
  • This option is very distant in the future. TV contracts are years away from expiration, so I would not be hoping on this choice unless you have patience.

Option 2: Expand the Playoff

This seems to be a favorite among almost everyone, except the ones who actually determine this stuff. Apparently, people really like the drama leading up to see who would truly be the best four teams. We all know though that the four best teams usually end up being the same four every year.

So, what if we expanded the playoff to eight to start giving some other teams who are having special seasons a chance at the CFP? You could do a simple structure of all P5 conference champs get an automatic bid, while their are 3 at-large bids. Yes there isn’t as much drama leading up to the rankings shows, but who cares?


  • Makes winning your conference worth something.
  • Most likely, a great G5 team would be able to make it.


  • More games, might be tougher on the players.
  • The playoff won’t be as selective.
  • Still have a biased playoff committee determining the fate of these teams.

Option 3: Relegation Process

With those who keep up with The Premiere League (English Soccer), this is a stolen idea. But it is still a possibility. The rule is simple, the teams in the P5 have to hit a certain win level over a certain amount of years, otherwise they are relegated to the G5 in place for a top G5 team in the region that reaches a certain win total.

So an example of this might be putting a team like Boise State in the Pac 12 in place of a team like Oregon State. Although this would elevate the P5 to just getting constantly good teams, our teams would get a shot to win a national title. I do not think it is the best idea, but it is another option that might be possible in the future.


  • Attendance might actually rise. Some of the relegated P5 teams have a good following, and would make for a good game with the G5. For example, if Rutgers came down to play USF, it would be an old Big East rivalry that people in Tampa would love to see.
  • All it takes is a successful string of seasons. This could really help drive a school’s and surrounding areas’ economy.
  • Give the relegated P5 schools a taste of their own medicine. Now they know how it feels to be disrespected.
  • You could still do a G5 playoff or an NCAA format style with this system.


  • Makes the G5 still seem like the JV team, while the P5 is playing varsity.

Option 4: G5 Playoff

The G5 playoff idea has been circulating for a while now. While many of us do not like the idea of acknowledging we are lesser than the P5, it seems like that’s how the “analysts” think of us. David Pollock recently was on College Football Live suggesting that it might be time for a G5 playoff. He argued that UCF is absolutely getting no respect. They put up gaudy stats and are undefeated, yet they sit at 12?

He continued on suggesting that it will be near impossible to get into the CFP, so just start a G5 playoff. I personally hate the fact that we even have to have the discussion, but it looks like this may be a plausible option moving forward as well.

As of now, this is what it would look like to me:

(1. UCF vs. 8. FAU)

(2. Memphis vs. 7. San Diego State)

(3. Boise State vs. 6. Toledo)

(4. USF vs. 5. Fresno State)

As you can see, there would absolutely be fun some matchups. I truly think these are the top-notch schools the G5 has to offer this year. The only glaring omission would be a Troy team that beat LSU, and won a conference championship. Troy had a great year, but a loss to South Alabama seems like it would keep them out of this playoff. Plus, I think FAU has been the better team lately, and also won a conference championship. In this scenario, we would have: 3 AAC, 3 Mountain West, 1 MAC, and 1 C-USA. The most interesting thing about it is having no Sun Belt team. I thought Troy would make it for sure when I put this together, but so many other teams have just had fantastic years.


  • The best G5 teams actually have something meaningful to play for.
  • For the P5, nothing changes. They get to keep their own format, while we get our own.
  • It might actually be pretty fun to watch. There is really some great G5 talent (but you already know that)!
  • You can start this whenever you want. You do not have to wait for conference realignment or expansion.


  • Accept defeat, acknowledging that we are lesser than the might P5 (when we are not).
  • Once separated, it will be hard to get back to that high level.
  • Not every conference would be represented.

While this has only a few negatives, they are big cons. Once you acknowledge you cannot compete with the big boys, they will never get you back to the spotlight.

Option 5: NCAA Tournament Format

Who else thinks all the other NCAA sports have the playoff format right? I know I do. I think it would be interesting to reward the conference champions in all the conferences with a playoff, while sending all the other non-qualifying teams to a bowl game. It basically expands the college football playoff to 11, with the highest ranking team getting a bye week. It would also be dependent on the Independents (Notre Dame, BYU, UMass, etc) becoming a conference and adding a few more teams in there. As of now this is what the NCAA format would look like:

Clemson off first week

(2. Oklahoma vs. 11. Troy)

(3. Georgia vs. 10. FAU)

(4. Ohio State vs. 9. Toledo)

(5. USC vs. 8. Boise State)

(6. UCF vs. 7. Notre Dame)

As you can see, only the conference champions are selected. The seeding is done by their CFP or AP ranking. Seeds 9-11 could be a toss up since they are not in the rankings. Each conference gets one representative. After week 1 of the playoffs, Clemson would come back and play the lowest seed available. This just makes so much more sense than the system now, and allows each conference to get a shot.


  • Each team, no matter the conference, has a shot at winning a national championship. Conference titles are nice and all, but the national championship is where we want to get to.
  • No playoff committee needed! We can let the AP Poll decide the top rated teams.
  • A familiar system that all the schools know well.
  • Play only teams in your division. Then you play the other division winner for the championship. The conference games mean even more.
  • P5 teams will not have to sacrifice their lucrative TV deals by letting more teams come into their conference. The G5 is happy that we get a chance, and the P5 is happy that they still get their money.


  • There is no determining who are the top 4, 8 or 11 teams. The playoff teams are clearly decided by winning their conference. So sometimes, the “best teams” may not get in.
  • Either the Independents will have to form their own league or, more likely, Notre Dame would have to join an the ACC. If they want a chance, it’s time to make a commitment to a league.
  • Some divisions are easier to win than others. A divisional realignment may have to be necessary.

I personally would love to see the NCAA tournament style. There used to be meaning in winning your conference, and now there is not (at least for the G5). The NCAA tournament style gives every team an opportunity, while keeping the current conferences. I don’t think there is any need for two SEC teams to make it to a playoff. What do you guys think? Please vote in the poll and comment down below if you have any other ideas. I would love to hear them!


What is the best alternative format?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Conference Realignment/Expansion
    (14 votes)
  • 9%
    Relegation Process
    (15 votes)
  • 13%
    G5 Playoff
    (21 votes)
  • 40%
    NCAA Tournament Format
    (66 votes)
  • 27%
    Playoff Expansion
    (45 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now