The coming college football playoff system isn't just going to sit at four teams for a while and then expand to eight eventually. The officially adopted four-team plan incorporates four non-playoff games so closely -- the same committee will pick the four playoff teams and the eight BCS 2.0 bowl teams -- that it's hard to see this as anything other than an eventual 12-team tournament, and it could even convert before that 12-year agreement is up.
Just look at how SI.com's Stewart Mandel breaks down what the 2011 selection committee's field would've looked like. From the undercard's Clemson-Baylor touchdown barrage in Atlanta to the New Year's Day rematch (ewwwww, rematch!) of LSU and Oregon, that's a neat little two-day event there, and it would set up a title game pretty much free of complaints over who was excluded and a title game with two teams that had actually played football in the past 40 days.
But look closer. This isn't just a playoff with a bowl attachment for the sake of having a bowl attachment. That's a 12-team playoff just waiting on the first No. 5 team to squawk loud enough for somebody to turn the money key. (Large amounts of money are held in money safes, which are locked by money keys. Most people don't know that.)
Let's use Mandel's bracket -- I'm sorry, six-team bowl event -- as an example. We'd have to add a few bowls to the rotation, but hey! Free money! Roll around in it! Why not!
This kind of thing would give the top four teams one-round byes:
- Chick-fil-A: No. 11 Clemson vs. No. 13 Baylor
- Sugar: No. 1 LSU vs. Clemson-Baylor winner
- Capital One: No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Boise State
- Fiesta: No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. South Carolina-Boise State winner
- Champions: No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Kansas State
- Orange: No. 3 Alabama vs. Arkansas-Kansas State winner
- Rose: No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
- Cotton: No. 4 Oregon vs. Stanford-Wisconsin winner
The Champions Bowl becomes just that, hosting a playoff game almost all the time -- even in 2006, Florida ranked No. 2 in real life, but that was somewhat due to the polls keeping Michigan from playing Ohio State again, a little manual rematch-avoidance. The Rose Bowl remains a pristine jewel, preserved for all eternity as a scholarly champions' battle between the Big Ten and Pac-12, and oh no now there's Louisville's KFC all over the parking lot, and Georgia fans just keep coming back. Most of the time it's preserved.
But here we have it -- something sort of like this is what we're working with as of 2014 (numbers by names are pre-bowl AP rankings, which won't always line up with seeding):
In the comments below, I'll be happy to explain how any of these wound up as they did. The answer is probably egregious mistakes.
While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together: