The College Football Playoff system is unfair and what should be done about it

Full Disclosure: I am a Ohio State fan and OSU is a member of the Big Ten

The Problem

The College Football Playoff ranking system that is currently used is unfair and bias and needs to be changed.  Right now a committee made up of mostly current and former players and coaches who then vote to rank teams.  Now the members are required to recuse themselves when voting on teams they are currently employed by, receive financial compensation from, or have family members who receive financial compensation from, but they can still vote for or against schools they played for or worked for in the past.  This can lead to major bias and a drive to make sure big teams get into the playoffs while lesser known teams are shut out.

There is also the fact that the College Football Playoffs (CFP) is not an NCAA sanctioned event.  This means that the governing body for the CFP can do what ever they want  they could change rules (though at the moment they do follow NCAA rules), block schools from being eligible or anything they see fit.

The Basics

Currently the NCAA has 130 FBS teams* in 10 FBS conferences, those conferences are listed below:

*Four team are FBS eligible but are not members of a conference they are Army, BYU, Massachusetts, Notre Dame

Currently under theCollege Football Playoffs (CFP) system only 25 teams are ranked by the committee leaving out 105 teams from the rankings.  There is also the issue (albeit a small issue) that teams are ranked before the season starts showing a bias right from the start.

Currently the only conferences who have appeared in the playoffs are all members of the “Power Five” they are ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC and the CFP voting committee requires that a representative from each of the “Power Five” conferences be on the voting committee.

As you can see there is a clear bias against smaller and less well funded schools and a bias that favors the more well known and better funded schools in the “Power Five” conferences.

What Should Be Done

First of all the NCAA should put it’s foot down and take control of the National Championship, there is no reason the biggest game of the college football season shouldn’t be run by the governing body of college football.  Why should a rouge organization be in charge of the championship?  In professorial sports the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all run their championship games, why shouldn’t the NCAA?  Sure the NCAA isn’t perfect, but I’d trust the official governing body of college sports to rank and run the championship over a rouge group that is clearly bias.


The ranking system should rank every team in the FBS, all 130 of them.  Rankings should be determined like this:

  • Rankings are only determined from conference games*
  • Each team must play at least 8 conference games to qualify for the playoffs
  • Rankings will be the score of each team at the end of each conference game plus 2 points to the winning team
  • For every 20 fouls called and upheld on a team 1 point be be deducted from the ranking score
  • Any foul that results in an ejection from the game will result in the team losing one point from the ranking score
  • Rankings will continue until the National Championship game between the final teams ranked #1 & #2
  • If the #2 team wins the National Championship then they will become the #1 team regardless of NCAA ranking points

*The four FBS eligible independent teams will have to join a conference to be eligible for the playoffs.


At the end of the regular season the conferences should take the NCAA rankings of their teams and have the two highest scoring teams (that are playoff eligible according to the rules above) play for their conference championship.  Any team that did not play the required 8 conference games will be ineligible for both the playoffs and the conference championship.

The Playoffs

The playoffs should be held between the top eight of the ten conference champions according to points including points earned during the conference game, the two lowest scoring conference champions will not be eligible for the National Championship Playoffs.  Point based ranking will continue until the National Championship Game between the #1 & #2 teams.  After the first and second weeks of playoffs the winners of each game will be ranked according to points following the same rules as in the regular season to decide who will play who in the next round.

The Bracket for the playoffs should look something like this:


There is a clear bias against smaller teams in the current system and while that does make sure that popular big name teams always make the playoffs, it shuts out a significant amount of teams who if given the chance may be able to play a better game and make college football not only more competitive but also more entertaining.

By taking the bias of people voting out of the equation and basing rankings solely on metrics it makes the ranking system more fair and encourages more competitiveness.

If you have any thoughts positive or negative about my ideas please comment and let me know.