Mark Madden

Mark Madden

The Super Genius of Pittsburgh Sports.Full Bio



Give full credit to LSU and Clemson for getting to the national championship game. They are likely the two best teams in college football.

But it's still a mythical national championship, and will be until all of the Power Five conference winners are involved.

The NCAA football championship is the lone competition in big-time sports where, at season's start, participants don't know what they must do to win it. Going undefeated doesn't guarantee making the post-season. (Remember Central Florida in 2017?) Winning your conference doesn't guarantee it, either.

The current method of determining a champ is only slightly less subjective than prior methods, and therefore just as stupid. The subjectivity must be eliminated. (That’s if you want the best teams involved, and it’s not more about TV ratings and dollars.)

Here's my playoff method:

The Power Five conference winners all get in. No do-overs. If you're a Power Five team, you have to win your conference to make the playoff.

If Notre Dame goes undefeated, they make the playoff. Unless Notre Dame joins a conference, going undefeated is the only way the Irish qualify.

The top-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences makes the playoff if Notre Dame doesn't. (This is my method's only remnant of subjectivity. I see no way around it.)

Seed the teams 1 through 6. Give the top two seeds a bye. You play two quarterfinals, two semifinals and a final. It takes three weeks.

Some might propose eight teams, and allow do-overs. I hate do-overs. Winning your conference is the bare minimum a team should have to do to qualify for the playoff. If you don't, you're out.

Under my system, the Power Five teams and Notre Dame know exactly what they must do to make the playoff. It's a bit sketchier for the Group of Five teams. But how often does one team from the Group of Five truly play at that heightened level over the course of a season, let alone two teams?

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