The best college football playoff plans

Updated: March 24, 2011, 3:47 PM ET
By Ryan McGee

Welcome back to Three Downs and Punt, where we welcome spring with a ladder so we can see over the blackout fences and into spring practice.

Before we get started, a quick tip of the cap to reader NotWoodyHayesGhost who responded to my list of "You don't know these names yet ... but you will." That list was led by a big photo of Ohio State quarterback Joe Bauserman, the man most likely to stand in for Terrelle Pryor during his early-season suspension.

"Ryan, at first I wanted to thank you for being the only national writer not to use his blog to hammer [Jim] Tressel. But the idea of AARP card-holding Joey Baseball being our only hope of salvaging the first five games of the season makes me physically ill. Thanks for that."

What can I say? I'm here for you, Columbus.

To the plays!

First down: The best systems for a college football playoff

Oh, the great collegiate irony that is late March.

As the NCAA hoops tourneys hit their Sweet 16s, a time that represents all that is good and right about sports playoffs, the lone major sport without a bracket, college football, is ramping up into full-on nationwide spring practice.

This confounding coincidence now appears to be as good a time as any to take a look at the various playoff plans that have been pitched from seemingly every corner of the college football world, and in at least one case far beyond it. It seems as if every few months someone fires off a new "perfect playoff plan," but rarely if ever do we see those plans listed in one place at one time.

Now they are: a top-5 ranking of the best systems for a college football playoff. Which ones do you like or dislike most? Let me know. In the meantime, for each one I'll give you the likelihood that they'll ever see the light of day.

(SPOILER ALERT: Don't hold your breath on that last part. Not for any of them.)

1. The FCS plan

This is the playoff system that we already know will work because it's been working at the NCAA's lower levels for more than three decades. For the majority of that time, the Football Championship Subdivision playoff was a tidy four-week, 16-team bracket. It was comprised of conference champions that received automatic bids, a number that eventually reached 10, and six at-large teams selected by committee. In 2010 the field was expanded to a slightly messier 20 teams consisting of 10 conference champs and 10 at-large berths. You can see the 2010 bracket here.