32-Team CFP

Here, I explain a 32-team College Football Playoff would work. Personally, I am in favor of scrapping the playoff system altogether and going back to the pre-1992 bowl system. But since that’s not happening, something must be done to save the bowls. This is the only way I can see how. Since players are skipping the minor bowls since they are meaningless, what better way to make them relevant again than lassoing them all into a giant 32-team playoff?

Here’s how it would work. First, let me explain the “tier” system. There are three tiers – we’ll call them “Tier 1,” “Tier 2,” and “Tier 3” for ease.

Tier 1: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Peach

Tier 2: Sun, Alamo, Vegas, Holiday, Citrus, Outback, Liberty, Gator

Tier 3: Frisco, Responder, Texas, New Mexico, Potato, G. Rate, Redbox, LA, Cheez-It, Boca Raton, Gasparilla, LendingTree, Independence, Music City, Mayo, New Orleans

The “Tier 1” bowls are the current-day New Year’s Six. That’s a perfect number, because it comes out to the total of quarterfinals and semifinals combined. These bowls would rotate between Q-Finals and S-Finals, with one out of every three years being a S-Final. The other two years, they would be quarterfinals.

“Tier 2” is made up of the biggest bowls historically outside the New Year’s Six. The Citrus and Holiday have produced national champions; the Sun and Gator are really old, Outback usually has a good matchup, Liberty has some history, and Alamo and Vegas have improved their matchups over time. These bowls serve as the “Round of 16” or “Second Round.” These particular bowls are not set in stone; instead, lesser bowls can bid on the right to be in Tier 2.

“Tier 3” is all the other bowls. These bowls are not set in stone either; bowls can bid on the right to host a First Round game.

Now, you have the location part of the brackets. As you’ll notice, all bowls on the left side are located in the West. All bowls on the right side are located in the East. This is by design, obviously. Travel costs can be cut down, and fans will have an easier time getting to multiple games. In some cases, they won’t even need to leave the state for all of the first three games.

The bowls are grouped together based on their proximity to the higher-ranked bowl, and then those bowls grouped to the next higher-ranked bowl, and so on. So, for example, the Dallas First Responder Bowl feeds into the El Paso Sun Bowl, which feeds into the Arlington Cotton Bowl. While Texas is a big state, it still means that no one would have to leave the state to get to their next games.

As for which bowls make the cut, it would be up to the bowls themselves as to how much they’d bid to the CFP to host the games. If the LA Bowl wants to make it big time, then it can bid on one of the Tier 2 bowl slots. If the Liberty Bowl is struggling financially, it can drop to a Tier 3 spot. But the goal would be to cut down on travel as much as possible by organizing the bracket so that bowls in the same state are in the same bracket.

The bowl slots would not be set in stone for beyond Tier 1. First, any Tier 3 bowl can get the #1 seed. If it’s Alabama, then maybe they want to play in the LendingTree Bowl. If it’s USC, then maybe they’ll play in the LA Bowl. That process continues until all sixteen first-round bowl sites are chosen, with higher seeds getting preference on which bowl to go to. The lower seeds can also be seeded according to region, as long as they stay within four spots on the S-curve that is used to seed the teams.

Who would qualify? All ten conference championship game winners. The remaining seeds are filled on an at-large basis.

Now it’s time to give this thing a whirl! I’ll be posting the way the bracket would have looked in 2019.