So my twin brother and I have come up with a new idea for how to determine the college football national champion. As good as the four team playoff has worked, it’s not legitimate when a group of five school can go unbeaten two years running and not even have an opportunity. What we’re calling our new system is the College Football Cup, since we’re taking a page out of the soccer playbook. Here’s how it’d work.
We’d abolish the conference championship games. After everyone’s played their 12 games, the playoff committee will release their final rankings. The top 20 teams go to the college football cup. Teams ranked one through four don’t play until the quarterfinals/elite eight. Teams ranked five through 20 get separated into four groups of four. Group one is #5-8, group two is #9-12, group three is #13-16 and group four is #17-20. All games until the national championship game (college football cup final) are played at the campus home stadium of the higher ranked team. The winner of group one plays at #4 in the quarterfinal, the winner of group two plays at #3, winner of group three plays at #2 and the winner of group four plays at #1.
The top four ranked teams don’t play any additional games compared to what they must play today to win the ‘natty, which is 15 games. The length of the season isn’t any longer either. Round one of group stage gets played the same week as Army-Navy currently is. This year, the schedule would like this: Group stage round one Saturday December 8th. Group stage final Saturday December 15th. Cup quarterfinals/elite eight Tuesday December 25th (Christmas). Cup semi-finals Tuesday January 1st (New Years Day). Cup final Monday January 14th. Every year, the college football cup final would be played at the Rose Bowl.
For the group stage rounds, the visiting school automatically gets 10% of the tickets, although at 96 hours prior to kickoff on game week, whatever tickets the visiting school doesn’t sell goes back to the home school to sell. For the college football cup quarterfinals, the visiting school automatically gets 20% of the tickets, with unsold visiting tickets going back to the home school 96 hours before kickoff. For the semi-finals, the visiting school gets 33% of the tickets, with an option of requesting more up to 40%. Then the cup final at the Rose Bowl, each school obviously gets 33-40% with the remainder being general admission sold to the public at large.
Just as a demonstration of how this system would work, I’ll use this year as an example. Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Georgia would be the top four teams. Group one would be Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and UCF, however you don’t want Ohio State and Michigan playing back to back so you switch Michigan with UCF. So Michigan would play at Oklahoma, while UCF plays at Ohio State. Assuming the higher ranked team wins, Ohio State would then go to Oklahoma, with the winner advancing to play at Georgia in the quarterfinal since the winner of group one plays #4. Group two would be #12 Penn State at #9 Florida and #11 UW at #10 LSU. Penn State would probably beat Florida and LSU would beat UW right now so then Penn State would go to LSU, with that winner going onto play at Notre Dame. Group three is #16 West Virginia at #13 Washington State and #15 Kentucky at #14 Texas. WVU has no defense and has to travel 3k miles west, so Wazzu would win and Texas would beat Kentucky. Texas would have to go to Wazzu so Wazzu would win and advance to play at Clemson. Group four is #20 Syracuse at #17 Utah and #19 Texas A&M at #18 Mississippi State. I think Utah wins that group because they’re at home in December against an indoor stadium team and a southern warm state team, so Utah goes onto play at Alabama.
Just close your eyes and imagine all those games happening. UCF at Ohio State with UCF getting to bring 10k fans, Will Grier and WVU in Martin Stadium in the December cold vs Gardner Minshew and his Mike Leach crew. A possible third edition of Ohio State and Oklahoma. Penn State playing down in The Swamp with 9k white out fans.
Then you get to the quarterfinals. Imagine Oklahoma at Georgia in a rematch of last year’s first ever overtime Rose Bowl game, but Athens being swarmed with 16+ Oklahoma fans. The fire would be intense. Or if UCF does a Cinderella run, you’d have UCF fans packing an SEC stadium to have their moment. You could have Script Ohio between the hedges. Imagine Notre Dame Stadium with a quarter of it being Penn State white. Imagine after two home wins, little remote Wazzu strolls into Clemson’s Death Valley and Coug fans drink it dry of beer while Minshew and his guys warm up in Death Valley shirtless. Think about Notre Dame going to Clemson again for the semi-finals, only this time 1/3rd of Tiger Stadium is Irish fans. It’d be epic. The dread that home school fans would have of the possibility of the road fans rushing their field. How much would Alabama fans hate seeing 1/3rd of Bryant Denny filled with Georgia fans? Oh man.
Anyways the idea of this system is that every good team gets their chance, while the top four teams get the benefit of starting in the quarterfinals. The non top four teams would have to run a gauntlet of beating five straight top 20 opponents to win the Cup, meaning a 17 game season total, so it’d be incredibly difficult and if/when it happens, it’d be quite the story to tell. Generally speaking, a top four team will still be champion, but whoever wins it would certainly have earned it. Those not in the top four wouldn’t suffer from complete wear and tear, as between their 12th game and the group stage round, they’d get a bye week, and between the group stage final and the quarterfinals, they’d get a few extra days of rest. Since the semi-final is on New Years Day and the Cup Final isn’t until Monday the 14th, it means the two teams who make the final get an extra week to prepare, just like the NFL does for the Super Bowl.
This would largely mean the end of bowl games, at least for the top 20 teams, but on the bright side, you wouldn’t see any players sitting out bowl games to prepare for the draft, since they’d want to win a national championship. While you’d be losing eight bowl games played by teams ranked 5-20, you’d actually be adding an additional eight games to the post season (16 games between the two rounds of group stage and quarterfinals), and since it’d be playoffs people would actually watch in droves, meaning the TV money would be insane. Not only would the schools be raking in the TV money, but the additional home games means even more ticket revenue.
For the record, as an Oregon fan, this system would’ve been awesome during the Masoli/Darron Thomas/Marcus Mariota/Vernon Adams years. In 2015, we had a six game winning streak to end the season with VA, we would’ve been in group three playing at #13 Ole Miss (we would’ve won), then we would’ve gone to either #15 Michigan or #14 Northwestern, both of whom we would’ve beaten. We would’ve probably bowed out in the quarterfinals/elite eight on the road at… Alabama.
In 2014 with Mariota, we would’ve started in the quarterfinals and gotten one of these four in Autzen: #16 Missouri, #15 UCLA, #14 Georgia or #13 Wisconsin. Basically, we would’ve won, at which point we’d be playing in the semi-finals at home in deafening wild crazy Autzen against #3 TCU, but with them getting to bring 18k fans although TCU isn’t a big school so they’d probably give like half of it back. In Autzen we win, then we’d get to play for the ‘natty in Pasadena instead of Jerry’s world.
In 2013 we would’ve been in group two playing at #9 Baylor, then if we won, played at the winner of Arizona State and Michigan State for a trip to go play at Auburn. In 2012 we would’ve been in group one playing at home against Stanford, just three weeks after they beat us in Autzen. That’d be fun, talk about us being out for blood. Then we would’ve gotten to play at home again against the winner of LSU and Kansas State (who we beat in the Fiesta Bowl that year). Basically, we win our group, and go play at #4 Florida in the quarterfinal. Oregon in the swamp, that’d be cool to see. Anyways Florida was massively overrated that year so we would’ve won big. We then would’ve gone on the road to #1 Notre Dame, who was also massively overrated that year, so we would’ve won big there too. We would’ve then played everyone’s dream matchup at the time, Oregon vs Alabama, in the Rose Bowl. Chip Kelly vs Nick Saban, in the Granddaddy of them all, oh yes.
2011, we would’ve also been in group one, getting two games at home. First we would’ve beaten #8 Kansas State, then we would’ve gotten the winner of Boise State and Arkansas which would’ve been Boise State because that was Kellen Moore. Boise State at Oregon, with Boise getting 5400 tickets. Oh man, the Oregon – Boise State unofficial rivalry would’ve been too hot. If we won, we would’ve gone on the road to Stanford, who we crushed on the road earlier in the season, so we win again. We then go to LSU’s Death Valley. Now, they beat us in the first game of 2011, but by the end of the year, they had literally zero offense and our young OLine had gelled, so we probably beat them the second go around. So then we’d be in the ‘natty against the winner of Oklahoma State at Alabama, oh fun!
2010, we wouldn’t play until the quarterfinals against the winner of group three. That year, group three was #16 Alabama at #13 Virginia Tech and #15 Nevada at #14 Oklahoma State. Alabama would’ve beaten Virginia Tech, and that Nevada team was the great Colin Kaepernick team so they would’ve beaten Ok State. Alabama would’ve had to travel to Reno which would’ve been funny but Alabama would’ve won. So it would’ve been Alabama in Autzen against Oregon in the quarterfinals. Autzen provides the edge. The semi-final would’ve been in Autzen against once again TCU.
2009 would’ve seen Oregon in group one, on the road at… Boise State.. oh no. Oh no. No no. No no no. Oh dear. The winner of that getting to most likely go to Florida. Jeremiah Masoli vs Tim Tebow, that would’ve been fun. We’d probably lose but yea.
2008 would’ve seen an Oregon team just hitting full stride at the end of the season going on the road to beat Cincinnati and then Oklahoma State before colliding with Tim Tebow’s Florida team in the swmap.
But yea so anyways I just think the College Football Cup would be a true playoff system that gives everyone a chance while still rewarding teams who finish in the top four with later entry into the playoff. It’d generate more TV money while creating more fun on campus matchups between schools who ordinarily would never play each other. So yea, what do you think?!