James Franklin: Standardizing team schedules would help the playoff committee

Nick Bromberg
Penn State head coach James Franklin speaks at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football Media Days in Chicago, Monday, July 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Annie Rice)
Penn State head coach James Franklin speaks at the Big Ten Conference NCAA college football Media Days in Chicago, Monday, July 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Annie Rice)

Penn State coach James Franklin is content with the current four-team College Football Playoff. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to make it better.

Franklin said Monday at Big Ten Media Days that he would like to see conferences play the same number of conference games and have similar criteria for non-conference scheduling. Those standardizations would then make the playoff committee’s job easier, Franklin said.

“When we get to a point where everybody’s playing under the same scenario, I think that would be the best situation,” Franklin said. “So the amount of conference games across the entire country, every conference is doing it the same way, we’re all playing the same number of conference games. We’re all playing FCS opponents or we’re not. We’re all playing the same number of Power Five out-of-conference opponents, things like that.”

“If we can control some of the variables, that’s going to give people who have a challenging job already, that’s going to help them. When you’re comparing one program to another or one conference to another, some of those things don’t have to be factored in.”

Scott Frost wants an 8-team College Football Playoff

Conferences like the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 currently play nine conference games while the ACC and SEC play eight conference games. And not every Power Five conference has a current requirement that its members must play a non-conference game against another Power Five school.

In that vein, standardization for playoff purposes is a good idea. It would put the Power Five teams on a bit more of a level playing field. However, it would also be a tacit admission that a non-Power Five team is never going to make the playoff. Though we learned that last year with Central Florida.

Undefeated UCF was No. 12 in the final playoff rankings in 2017 because of its relatively weak schedule. Yeah, a game against Georgia Tech was canceled because of Hurricane Irma last season but a potential win over the Yellow Jackets probably wouldn’t have been enough to put UCF on the periphery of playoff contention.

Former UCF coach and new Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Monday that he wanted an eight-team playoff to potentially give a team like his Knights a shot. An eight team playoff with five conference champions, two wild card teams and the highest-ranked Group of Five team would have netted UCF a playoff berth in an eight-team bracket.

“But it’s hard to look at last year’s college football season and not feel like an eight-team playoff isn’t where we should go,” Frost said. ” … I think it should be five conference champions and three at-large teams. That would give a surprise conference champion that plays well at the end of the season a shot. It might give a team like we had at UCF last year a shot.”

“I think you could start the playoff earlier in December, not have to make the semifinal like a bowl experience. That would allow the season to end about the same time that it does with the national championship game. I don’t think it takes away from the regular season and the importance of those games. And as great as the evolution of that playoff has been, I’m always going to be an advocate for eight teams.”

Jim Harbaugh: How about 16 teams?

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh wanted to go even further and eliminate conference championship games to expand the playoff to 16 like what happens at the FCS level of college football. While that idea would be fun, Harbaugh’s proposal came with the elimination of conference championship games. Conferences aren’t getting rid of their title games unless they can make that revenue up somewhere else.

“Well, I mean, the [FCS] teams have been very successful at that model,” Harbaugh said. “I think, if my math is right, right now, if you play all the way through to a championship game, that would be 15 games.”

“And through a 16-team playoff, that would be 16 games, right, under the current model. Probably take away the championship, the league championship game. It would eliminate that one, and then so it could be 16 games. But only the two teams playing in the national championship would play that many games.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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