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A Radical Twist for the 16-Team CFP Model

Executive Summary: Uncover a bold vision for college football with a Radical 16-team CFP Model. Dive into the groundbreaking structure and how it could shake up the game.


The was massive negative response in the media about the SEC and B1G asking for the automatic bye for their respective conference champions in a 14-team CFP model. My answer to that is this tweet that has this chart.




CFP History

The truth is we have been in a world where the SEC and B1G have had the first two seeds in the 4-team model for the last 4 years straight.


Assuming Clemson ends up in the SEC (or more remotely in the B1G) and the new SEC and B1G has had the top two seeds the ENTIRE TIME we have had a 4-team playoff.


Therefore, this is NOT a change. It is actually ensuring the TV networks continue to get what they have had in the four-team era.


Most pundits have said "let's get rid of these byes and go to a 16-team CFP."


I assure you if I were advising the B1G and SEC (I am not), I'd give them a radical 16-team CFP model you may hate even more than the 14-team model. Don't believe me? Read on.


Here would be my 16-team CFP structure:

  1. Four B1G and four SEC teams are in- Here is the good news. ONLY four for each of these conferences are in.

  2. The eight are seeded odds and evens 1-8. If an SEC team is ranked #1, the SEC seeds will be 1,3,5,7 and the B1G seeds will be 2,4,6,8. I know you are pissed now. It is 1 to 8 on HALF of the bracket.

  3. The power two conferences (P2) have one side of the bracket. Everyone else has the other side. The SEC decides how to fill its seeds and the B1G decides how to fill its seeds.

  4. The other Division one schools (D1) govern their side of the bracket.

  5. Here is a kicker for round one. The teams seeded 1-4 are the home teams. That means the 1-4 Power 2 schools host, but the 1-4 Division one schools host too. THAT would be HUGE for those schools.


The Power 2 (B1G and SEC) Step One Plan and Conference Tournaments


What I would suggest to the SEC and B1G is that the regular season decides who their four playoff participants are. The CONFERENCE decides but if they want a CFP type committee, that makes sense too.


Then, the four play for the top seeds- #4 plays at #1's stadium, #3 plays at #2's stadium. The winners of those games have the #1 and #2 conference seed. Then the winners go to Indianapolis or Atlanta to play for the Conference #1 seed.


CFP Week 13 Ranks

Say it is 2023 again but with all of the conferences as they will be in 2026 (for now we will guess- Clemson and UNC in the SEC and FSU and Miami in the B1G.) We go back in time BEFORE the CCGs that happened. Here are how the teams ranked that day.


The third column shows the conferences each team would be most likely part of in 2026. It will become clearer as we go conference by conference.


The top 25 is what the CFP committee had in week 13. I used power rankings from college football reference to set the rankings greater than 25. For these conference tournaments I have projected participants as they were in 2023 where I could and taking the best next option where that wasn't possible.


Try not to be distracted too much for how I modeled the games. The point is to show HOW 2023 could have worked out in this 16-team model.


SEC B12 CCGs

SEC


Georgia (#1) plays Missouri (#9) in Athens. For the illustration say Georgia wins.


Texas (#7) plays Alabama (8) in Austin. For the illustration say the Longhorns win again.


Then let's say Georgia beats Texas in the SEC CCG. Georgia would likely retain the #1 rank they had before the conference playoff.


SEC Seeds to the 16-team CFP

  • Georgia (#1)

  • Texas (#3)

  • Alabama (#5)

  • Missouri (#7)


Top SEC teams OUT of the 16-team playoff- #13 Ole Miss, #14 Oklahoma, #15 LSU, #21 Tennessee, #23 Clemson. The fans of the first three are not happy.


Georgia and Texas will host their opening round games. Alabama and Missouri go on the road.


B1G


The B1G seedings and the consequences of them cause MASSIVE media coverage. The conference finally settles on:

Michigan (#2) plays Oregon (#5) in Ann Arbor. For illustration purposes say Michigan wins.

Washington (#3) plays Florida St. (#4) in Seattle. For illustration purposes say Washington wins. Florida St. without their QB never really had a chance and the folks in Columbus are PISSED.


Then let's say Michigan beats Washington in the B1G CCG. The B1G gets the even seeds:


B1G Seeds to the 16-team CFP

  • Michigan (#2)

  • Washington (#4)

  • Oregon (#6)

  • Florida St. (#8)


Top B1G teams OUT of the 16-team playoff- #6 Ohio St, #10 Penn St., #16 Iowa. The difference between being the fourth and fifth place team in these conferences will be massive and put a ton of pressure on the late season games.


Michigan and Washington will host their opening round games. Oregon and Florida St. go on the road.

P2 Grid

Here is the summary of the Power 2 Postseason grid and seeds for the eight-team playoff.


Now let's turn our attention to how the Division One schools may determine their side of the bracket.


The Division One (ACC, B12, Notre Dame, G5s) Bracket


The group of everyone else agrees to a similar strategy for crowning a conference championship. This division one group will seed the one through eight seeds on the other side of the bracket.


I think to draw interest in these tournaments the ACC and Big 12 will make the semifinals winners be their two representatives into the playoffs. Then, I think they will have the winners of the ACC and B12 conference tournaments get a guaranteed 1-4 seed on this side of the bracket. Remember the Division One 1-4 seeds HOST the Power 2 5-8 seeds.


Big 12


B12 CCGs

Arizona (#15) plays Kansas (#26) in Tuscon. For illustration purposes say Arizona wins.


Oklahoma St. (#18) plays Kansas St. (#25) in Stillwater. For illustration purposes say Oklahoma St. wins.


This puts Arizona and Oklahoma St. in the eight-team playoff.


Then let's say Arizona beats Oklahoma St. in the B12 CCG. Arizona is guaranteed a top 4 seed on the Division One side of the bracket, and they will play that game at home.


ACC


ACC CCGs

With Florida St., Clemson, North Carolina, and Miami gone, the ACC looks like a shell of itself.


Louisville (#14) plays SMU (#31) in Louisville. For illustration purposes say Louisville wins.


North Carolina St. (#19) plays Duke (#26) in Raleigh. For illustration purposes say North Carolina St. wins.


This puts Louisville and North Carolina St. in the eight-team playoff.


Then let's say Louisville beats North Carolina St. in the ACC CCG. Louisville is guaranteed a top 4 seed on the Division One side of the bracket, and they will play that game at home.


So now we have half of the Division one side of the bracket full.

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Let's get back to it with the Group of 5 plan.


Group of 5


G5 CCGs

These conferences play their conference championship games one week earlier and then the top 4 champions play for a 1-4 seed on the Division 1 side of the eight-team playoff bracket. This might mean the G5 starts a week earlier of only plays an 11-game schedule.


Other champions can also get in as we will see.


AAC


Tulane (#22) plays UTSA (#51) in New Orleans. For illustration purposes say Tulane wins.


CUSA


Liberty (#24) plays New Mexico St. (#78) in Lynchburg. For illustration purposes say Liberty wins.


MAC


Toledo (#59) plays Miami (OH) (#62) in Toledo. For illustration purposes say Miami (OH) wins as they did in 2023.


MW/ P12


For illustration purposes, let's assume that Oregon St. and Washington St. have merged into the Mountain West.

Oregon St. (#20) plays Boise St. (#46) in Oregon City. For illustration purposes say Oregon St. wins.


SB


Troy (#26) plays James Madison (#28) in Troy. For illustration purposes say Troy wins.


With these conference championship game results, the G5 conference semifinals are.....


G5 Semifinals


The top four ranked G5 champions pair off for the G5 semi-finals.

Oregon St. plays Troy in Oregon City. For illustration purposes say Oregon St. wins.

Tulane plays Liberty in New Orleans. For illustration purposes say Tulane wins.

These could be very tight games. The Division One Group may decide that both of these winning teams deserve a bid to their side of the bracket, but I don't think it will be guaranteed. The message to the G5 is win and you are in and be good and you might get two in.


G5 Finals


Let's assume the G5 conferences have a bid for the site for this G5 championship game to make revenue for these conferences.


In our simulation, Oregon St. beats Tulane. Oregon St. is in as a top 4 seed. Oregon St. representing the G5 will get to host a game in the eight-team playoff.


With this format the G5 tournament winner here can declare itself a champion of the G5, and I think they should. It will be like a mini tournament within the tournament.


The Wild Card Game


You might be saying:

  • That is 5 or 6 teams for the Division one side of the bracket.

  • How does the Division One fill the other 2 to 3 slots without making it a disadvantage to play in the conference tournaments?

  • What about Notre Dame?


The Division One will have a Wild Card play-in game to kick of the weekend that all of the CCG and the G5 championship are occurring. This Wild Card game will have the top two Division One teams (excluding G5) that did not get into the ACC or B12 conference tournament. It will be hosted by the higher ranked team. This will in many years be the Notre Dame game.


Division One Grid

If you go back to rankings for 2023, this would have been Notre Dame vs. Iowa St. in South Bend. The winner of this game IS NOT guaranteed a 1-4 seed.


Let me show you the full Division One Playoff for their side of the backet and their seeds in 2023.


Division One Seeds

  1. Louisville- ACC Champion- guaranteed 1-4

  2. Arizona- Big 12 Champion- guaranteed 1-4

  3. Notre Dame- Wild Card Winner

  4. Oregon St.- G5 Champion- guaranteed 1-4

  5. Oklahoma St.- Big 12 runner-up

  6. NC State- ACC runner-up

Those six were set by their performances in what I just described. There would be huge debate about the last slots in this bracket.


  • If Tulane reached the G5 playoff finals, do they deserve a spot? Since they were the seventh highest ranked Division One school before the conference tournaments, I say probably they are in.

  • Liberty was ranked eighth among the Division One before the postseason. Do they deserve to get in? I will say Tulane beat them bad enough in the G5 Semi-finals that they are out.

  • The next highest teams are the CFP rated 25 Kansas St. vs. Kansas, who lost to KSU in week 12. In week 13, KSU lost to lower ranked Iowa St. Kansans want to decide this. The Division One group gives their eighth seed to Kansas St. due to their better schedule and better power ranking.


The last two seeds.

7.  Tulane- G5 Championship runner up- at large bid

8.  Kansas St.- Big 12 semi-finals loser- at large bid

2023 Rankings

We now have the 16-team playoff bracket set. Here are the rankings and the seeds of the 16 playoff teams after all of the pre-playoff rounds occurred.
















The 16-Team CFP Playoff


Here is how the games line up for the first round of the CFP.

CFP Round 1

As discussed multiple times, the top four seeds from each division have the host opportunity. This is a HUGE opportunity for the Division One teams.


For the model, I will give Norte Dame the upset at home and all of the other games to the Power two conference teams. Here's how the quarterfinals would line up with bowls most advantageous to the top seeds.


CFP QF

Let's assume the top seeds win. Here is how the Semifinals will line up.

CFP SF

Here is how the National Championship could line up.

CFP National Championship

At the end of the day, the Power 2 conferences likely dominate the 16-team playoff as they have the 4-team playoff era.


This system sounds interesting. I think this is the BEST deal for the Division One of any I can come up with given the Power 2 conference constraints they are likely to have.


I do think there is a trap type downside for the rest of College Football. IF the Power 2 Conferences are correct and they do dominate as what I modelled here year after year in round 1, then the next version of CFP will be even more slanted to the Power 2.


I think there is one huge flaw.


  • Teams will play 12 regular season games.

  • The B1G, SEC, ACC, B12 will play 2 conference playoff games

  • The G5 teams will play conference tournament games AND 2 G5 Tournament games- This is why I think the G5 could be reduced to 11 regular season games.

  • The play-in game teams will play one game.

  • This means 15 of the 16 teams in the 16-team playoff will have played 14 games BEFORE the potentially 4-game championship tournament. I do not think that works. This means that the following teams could play this many games:

Games played

The FBS college football world has been one where approximately:

  • 2 teams have played 15 games.

  • 20ish teams have played 14 games.

  • 60ish teams have played 13 games.

  • 50ish teams have played 12 games.


8-team link

I just do not think that college football will expand to that many games. I THINK an 8-team playoff following this type of conference tournament playoffs are where we are REALLY headed. Read more about that here. Click the picture or the link below.


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