I was thinking about this recently with the move of TCU to the Big East.
There are 35 bowls this year, which is a ridiculous number, meaning almost 60% of the teams that play FBS football will go to a bowl game. That's roughly the equivalent of the NFL adding 6 more teams to the playoffs, thus how you've seen how watered down the product has been.
But that's in large part because more and more teams want to get a piece of that TV money, which while it waters down college football, helps it in the long run.
So I decided if you were going to come up with a playoff format that would still allow teams to get their slice of bowl money, then you'd have to basically match that number of teams by going to a 64-team format like basketball does.
Sounds ludicrous, I know. But here is how I would do it...
The biggest problem with a playoff system in football unlike other sports is the physical nature of the sport makes it practically impossible to play more than 1 game per week. So you would have to spread out a 64-team playoff tournament over the course of 6 weeks.
The championship game stays the same and still is played roughly around January 8. The "Final 4" games are played on January 1 (keeping that New years tradition). The "Elite 8" games are played 2 weeks before on December 18. Why? Because under the current bowl schedule there aren't many games on Xmas weekend, so why change it. Football players need a break too.
The "Sweet 16" round is played on December 4, which is the normal weekend for the regular season to end/championship game weekend/Week 14. The "Thirsty 32" round is the week before on what will typically be around Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 27). The opening round corresponds with Week 12 of the college football season on Nov. 20.
Now obviously the dates are a bit fluid, based on what days are exactly Saturdays in a given year, but you get the gist.
So what does that mean for the regular season? Well, assuming you get a week off before the tourney kicks off, that means there will only be 10 weeks of regular season in college football.
And I personally think that should be reserved totally for in-conference play. No more Florida International playing Florida anymore. That means 9 in-conference games for some conferences, and 8 for those with a championship game. That means that some conferences will need at least 10 member schools to qualify.
A few conferences like the Big East and Mountain West would need to add at least one other team. Also this would eliminate the possibility of having independent schools like Notre Dame, Army, Navy, and BYU. They too would have to join conferences.
No more cupcake tune-up games at the beginning of the season. Every game counts.
After the 8 or 9 game schedule, based off rankings teams would get invitations to the 64- team tournament.
The 11 conference winners would get automatic bids. Although presumably with the elimination of the independents, the FBS expanding to include more than 120 teams in the future, presumably a 12th conference would rise out of the murky depths. That would then leave either 48-49 at-large bids would be based off their rank/record.
That would likely mean that there would be an expansion of poll voting from 25 to somewhere around 36, 40, or even 50.
Obviously the seeding would be done the same way that it's done in basketball, with 1 playing 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, etc.
Yes, teams would be separated into four regional brackets that would try to do their best (at least better than basketball tends to do) with making teams not have to travel too far geographically. Those regions would probably be the West, South, East, and Central.
The opening 2 rounds would be played at the home site of the higher seeded team.
The 15 games that are in the 3rd round and later will be played at neutral sites. Some of those could be sites of current famous bowl sites, NFL sites, etc.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.