Four teams won't be enough for the College Football Playoff. Everyone knows this. ACC commissioner John Swofford, no doubt starting to sweat a bit at the prospects of not having a horse in the race this year, says what everyone is thinking, telling The Herald-Sun that an eight-team playoff would be ideal.
"I don't think all the controversy's going to go away," Swofford said of the new system. "You have four teams that get a chance to play for the national championship, which is twice as many as before, but whoever's fifth or sixth is not going to be happy. There will be some conferences that won't have a team in the playoff."
"I do think it has a great deal of potential," he said. "The question is asked a lot, ‘Why not eight?' or ‘Will it become eight in a few years?' I can tell you why not eight, right now: The presidents made the decision as to how far we can go with the playoff, and the bookends are exams in December, and the presidents don't want football to become a two semester sport. Those concerns are education-based. So I think they're appropriate."
Personally, I'm not buying the academic excuse; not when every other NCAA division manages to fit a postseason tournament into the fall semester. The NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (nee I-AA) and Division II finish up a 24 (!) team tournament on January 4 and December 21, respectively. Division III stages a 32-team tournament that ends on December 20. Student-athletes at Eastern Washington and North Dakota State don't take exams?
Pretty straightforward solution. Just trim the schedule fat. Drop the 12th regular season game and/or prohibit FBS-FCS matchups. Teams can't be making that much money on a home game that's being met increasingly with a yawn at the gate. Start the regular season a week earlier (college football is already creeping into late August as it is) and you have plenty of wiggle room to work with to stage a Championship Game at or around New Year's Day.
Five auto-bids and three wild cards sounds about right to me. If Notre Dame doesn't like its chances as an at-large, join the ACC. Of course, this makes far too much sense to happen.