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New college football playoff format: is it just a money grab?

Ray Olivier

Anchor Staff Writer

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Back in June of this year the College Football committee met to discuss their playoffs format and how they could possibly make it better. Well, they did not. At least in the eyes of Frank Michael Smith of the “3 Things with Frank Michael Smith” show which is on Snapchat. Although he uses Snapchat as his sports medium, Smith does his homework and supplies quality videos for sports fans. In season one of his show, he dedicated one segment of the three he does each show to college football and how the new 12- team playoff format is the “wrong move.”

He starts off by mentioning how the original format of 4 teams was also the wrong move due to the “power five” which refers to the five conferences which dominate over all the other conferences in the sport. In the four-team format one team from one of the power fives was left out. Instead, Smith recommends a six- team format, in which each power five conference champion would make the playoffs as well as one non power five team. Examples provided were teams like Cincinatti last season or the University of Central Florida, who in 2017 went 12-0 but failed to make the playoffs.

In Smith’s format, winning a power five conference guarantees you a playoff bid. But a dominant non-power five team would occupy that 6th and final spot. Smith believes this would be the most competitive format with the least number of blowouts.

If you recall, in the National Championship game, #1 seeded Alabama beat the #3 seed Ohio State by 28 points. Not only would a playoffs game between the first and twelfth seed be non-entertaining, but it would be uncompetitive. Reducing the field to six teams would at least level the playing field and produce competitive football. So, why is a 12-team format, like the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, currently planned? It has to be money, right?

With a 12-team format, in the first round, there are four games alone compared to the three which were played in the four-team format altogether. The extra games will supply more viewership and therefore create revenue. According to, “Based on the conference’s reported $497 million TV/radio for 2019-20 and the $55 million attributed to the CBS football package, there was $442 million in other TV/radio revenue.” The ‘conference’ mentioned is the SEC and this article used these results and projected that by the end of the 2024-25 season the SEC would, under the same circumstances, make just shy of $9.5 million.

For the demographic that is making money off these games, pushing for more playoff games is a smart move. However, for the college football fan who is either a die-hard or a casual consumer, the more competitive, the better. Alabama fans are grateful for another championship, but the average fan most likely found that game to be boring. In many cases when a game turns out to be such a blowout those viewers will stop watching the game.

The NCAA should try and avoid such scenarios and not match up the #1 seed with the #12 seed. Not only will the six-team format make the college football playoffs more important, but it makes the regular season games more impactful as the playoffs field would be cut in half.

Fans want something entertaining to watch. That is why they tune in and either cheer on their favorite team or enjoy a significant game just because they love football.


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