Every March, sports fans unite before what is arguably the most exciting three weeks of the year. Whether you call it March Madness, the Big Dance or just the NCAA tournament, few would argue the excitement that the event provides. Tuesday night marked the unveiling of the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2016. The thought of those rankings begs an interesting question.
What would a 68-team College Football Playoff bracket look like?
Obviously, the premise is a bit far-fetched and there might be some naysayers, but what would a tournament like that might bring to the sport? Could it be done?
To commemorate the first week’s rankings, we will take a crack at seeing what a bracket of this magnitude might look like in the college football world. Assumptions and predictions have been built in for the sake of discussion. Let the debate begin.
BREAKING DOWN THE FIELD
The number one overall seed in the defending National Champion, Alabama Crimson Tide. Following Alabama as number one seeds are Michigan, Clemson and Washington.
There would be 11 automatic bids given to the regular season champions: South Florida (AAC), Clemson (ACC), Oklahoma (Big 12), Michigan (Big Ten), Louisiana Tech (Conference USA), Western Michigan (MAC), Boise State (Mountain West), Washington (PAC-12), Alabama (SEC) and Troy (Sun Belt).
The remainder of the selections would be at-large bids. Those 57 teams have been selected by a one-person selection committee based on the end of the season predictions.
1 seeds: Alabama, Michigan, Washington, Clemson.
2 seeds: Louisville, Ohio St, Texas A&M, Wisconsin.
3 seeds: Auburn, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma.
4 seeds: Baylor, LSU, Western Michigan, West Virginia.
5 seeds: Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Utah.
6 seeds: North Carolina, Florida State, Colorado, Boise State.
7 seeds: Washington State, Houston, San Diego State, South Florida.
8 seeds: Troy, Tulsa, Appalachian State, Wyoming.
9 seeds: USC, Tennessee, Arkansas, Stanford.
10 seeds: Minnesota, Temple, Toledo, Navy.
11 seeds: Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Kansas State, Georgia Tech.
12 seeds: Western Kentucky, Arizona State, Maryland, Louisiana Tech.
13 seeds: Middle Tennessee, Army, Air Force, Southern Mississippi.
14 seeds: Iowa, TCU, Texas, NC State.
15 seeds: Wake Forest, Ohio, SMU, Cincinnati.
16 seeds: Akron, Central Michigan, South Carolina, Vanderbilt.
Last Four In: Indiana, Central Florida, Syracuse, BYU.
To wet your appetite for the tournament, these four play-in games will be interesting to watch. Like the first four on the basketball side, everyone knows that Dayton, Ohio is the home for the first four. In a true go big or go home mentality all eyes will be on Las Vegas. The first four games will take place at Sam Boyd Stadium in the city that never sleeps.
(12) Arizona State Sun Devils vs (12) Indiana Hoosiers.
(16) Syracuse Orange vs (16) South Carolina Gamecocks.
(16) SMU Mustangs vs (16) Akron Zips.
(12) Central Florida Knights vs (12) Western Kentucky Hiltoppers.
Picks: Arizona State, South Carolina, SMU, Central Florida.
SO, WHEN AND WHERE DO WE PLAY?
There has been myriads of reasons why a playoff of this magnitude would not work. Presidents, Administrators and Coaches alike have said this would make the season too long, it would water down the regular season as well as be impossible to incorporate the bowls. Our logistics and timeline will show how and why this will not be the case.
Inevitably, every year there is one or two games on the schedule that is a bore for college football fans to watch. Whether it be Oklahoma taking on Louisiana Monroe or LSU playing McNeese State the regular season could be shortened in such a way to make each week more interesting. Last year, Alabama and Clemson each played 15 football games including the National Championship Game. In our tournament format, the championship game will be the 16th game for two teams. With that being said, the amount of exposure and additional revenue this would generate for the conferences will outweigh the extra game.
The biggest challenge with an undertaking such as this is to identify the venue that these contests will be played at. Looking at other collegiate sports, there is different formats those organizations use. In baseball and softball, home teams host regionals and super regionals. Conversely, basketball utilizes a neutral site with regional POD format. With something as new and as exciting as a 68-team College Football Playoff, our format would be a combination of both.
Looking at the round of 64, all games will be hosted by the highest seeded team in their sub-bracket. The top four teams in each region will have the opportunity to host a first round contest.
Games played at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL
(1) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (16) South Carolina/(16) Syracuse
(8) Troy Trojans vs. (9) USC Trojans
Games Played at Lane Stadium in Waco, TX
(5) Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. (12) Western Kentucky/Central Florida
(4) Baylor Bears vs. (13) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Games played at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL
(6) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (11) Northwestern Wildcats
(3) Auburn Tigers vs. (14) Iowa Hawkeyes
Games played at Papa Johns Stadium in Louisville, KY
(7) Washington State Cougars vs. (10) Minnesota Golden Gophers
(2) Louisville Cardinal vs. (15) Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Games played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI
(1) Michigan Wolverines vs. (16) Central Michigan Chippewas
(8) Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. (9) Tennessee Volunteers
Games played at Tiger Field in Baton Rouge, LA
(5) Virginia Tech Hokies vs. (12) Arizona State/Indiana
(4) LSU Tigers vs. (13) Army Black Knights
Games played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL
(6) Florida State Seminoles vs. (11) Kansas State Wildcats
(3) Florida Gators vs. (14) TCU Horned Frogs
Games played at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, OH
(7) Houston Cougars vs. (10) Toledo Rockets
(2) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (15) Cincinnati Bearcats
Games played at Frank Howard Field in Clemson, SC
(1) Clemson Tigers vs. (16) Vanderbilt Commodores
(8) Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. (9) Arkansas Razorbacks
Games played at Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley, PA
(5) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (12) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
(4) Western Michigan Bronchos vs. (13) Air Force Falcons
Games played at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE
(6) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (11) Pittsburgh Panthers
(3) Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. (14) Texas Longhorns
Games played at Kyle Field in College Station, TX
(7) San Diego St Aztecs vs. (10) Temple Owls
(2) Texas A&M Aggies vs. (15) Ohio Bobcats
Games played at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA
(1) Washington Huskies vs. (16) Akron/SMU
(8)Wyoming Cowboys vs. (9) Stanford Cardinal
Games played at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV
(5) Utah Utes vs. (12) Maryland Terrapins
(4) West Virginia Mountaineers vs. (13) Southern Mississippi Eagles
Games played at Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK
(6) Boise St Broncos vs. (11) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
(3) Oklahoma Sooners vs. (14) NC State Wolfpack
Games played at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI
(7) South Florida Bulls vs. (10) Navy Midshipmen
(2) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (15) BYU Cougars
ROUND OF 64 SCHEDULE
The normal bidding and television rights would continue. However, here is a look at the opening round match-ups:
Thursday, December 8
11:00 AM (8) Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. (9) Arkansas Razorbacks
12:30 PM (5) Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. (12) Western Kentucky/UCF
2:00 PM (5) Western Michigan Broncos vs. (12) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
3:30 PM (6) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (11) Pittsburgh Panthers
5:00 PM (6) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (11) Northwestern Wildcats
6:30 PM (8) Troy Trojans vs. (9) USC Trojans
8:00 PM (7) Washington State Cougars vs. (10) Minnesota Golden Gophers
9:30 PM (7) San Diego St Aztecs vs. (10) Temple Owls
Friday, December 9
11:00 AM (8) Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. (9) Tennessee Volunteers
12:30 PM (5) Virginia Tech Hokies vs. (12) Arizona State/Indiana
2:00 PM (6) Florida State Seminoles vs. (11) Kansas State Wildcats
3:30 PM (7) Houston Cougars vs. (10) Toledo Rockets
5:00 PM (7) South Florida Bulls vs. (10) Navy Midshipmen
6:30 PM (5) Utah Utes vs. (12) Maryland Terrapins
8:00 PM (6) Boise St Broncos vs. (11) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
9:30 PM (8)Wyoming Cowboys vs. (9) Stanford Cardinal
Saturday, December 10
11:00 AM (1) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (16) South Carolina/(16) Syracuse
12:30 PM (4) Baylor Bears vs. (13) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
2:00 PM (3) Auburn Tigers vs. (14) Iowa Hawkeyes
3:30 PM (2) Louisville Cardinal vs. (15) Wake Forest Demon Deacons
5:00 PM (1) Clemson Tigers vs. (16) Vanderbilt Commodores
6:30 PM (4) Penn State Nittany Lions vs. (13) Air Force Falcons
8:00 PM (3) Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. (14) Texas Longhorns
9:30 PM (2) Wisconsin Badgers vs. (15) BYU Cougars
Sunday, December 11
11:00 AM (1) Michigan Wolverines vs. (16) Central Michigan Chippewas
12:30 PM (4) LSU Tigers vs. (13) Army Black Knights
2:00 PM (3) Florida Gators vs. (14) TCU Horned Frogs
3:30 PM (2) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. (15) Cincinnati Bearcats
5:00 PM (4) West Virginia Mountaineers vs. (13) Southern Mississippi Eagles
6:30 PM (3) Oklahoma Sooners vs. (14) NC State Wolfpack
8:00 PM (2) Texas A&M Aggies vs. (15) Ohio Bobcats
9:30 PM (1) Washington Huskies vs. (16) Akron/SMU
BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE BOWL GAMES
There is no way to incorporate natural bowl games into this tournament, is there? Many of the bowl games now make their venues even more lucrative with more at play in these games. There will be 15 bowl games that will be part of a yearly rotation which will host the remaining tournament games.
Round of 32
Music City Bowl
Russell Athletic Bowl
Quick Lane Bowl
St. Petersburg Bowl
FINAL FOUR AND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Over the next few weeks, there will be more to come on the 2017 College Football Playoff bracket. Breakdowns, Predictions and players to watch from each region will continue through the National Championship game.