-Both teams must be conference champs
-Both must win their bowl game
That's to name a few. I just think it's ridiculous we have a NC who didn't play for their conference championship, let alone win it.
Iowa would have made a 16 team playoff several times in recent years. As long as the computer component is involved, even if ISU could have made it to 7-5 or 8-4 this year we'd have been near 16th in the BCS rankings. The humans would have put us 20-30 but at 8-4 with our schedule every computer would have had us around #10. We were in the 20s in computer rankings even at 6-6 and the #2 SOS.
The rivalry game and the regularity it is played at has more to do with available non-conference games than it does with playoff formats. If both teams have 3 available slots i think it stays every year. If the Big Ten goes 9 games AND a Pac 12 game every year it would become a once every three or four years type of thing but not totally die unless Iowa is too afraid to ever play ISU because Rhoads turns ISU into a top 25 program.
If we do go to a playoffs, I would like to see a 6 team playoff. No auto bids, just the top six teams. Top two teams get first round byes and you must win your conference to get that bye.
How can people say if a team didn't make a 16 team playoff their bowl game is meaningless? Right now there is a 2 team playoff so all bowls are meaningless. Any solution that decides the champion somewhere other than on the field is what is meaningless.
Iowa and Iowa State would benefit greatly from having a 16 team playoff because then we would actually have a chance to appear in the championship tournament. If we don't make it, it will just be like other years where we play in a low to mid-level bowl.
I think those who argue the "every game must count" angle and are against 4, 8 and 16 team playoffs are often just math challenged. 8 team playoff means a lot of teams still have to go undefeated to get in, two losses would eliminate a vast majority of programs.
I'm still in favor of a 16 -- auto bids for all conferences plus at-large -- but I do like a 12-team because (1) it has similar spirit, that is, includes somewhat of a shot for all teams to have a chance, but puts some qualification on realistic small-conference inclusion; (2) rewards the top 4 —*which are the upper tier of true title contenders, so there would be some motivation to get a bye (keeping value to regular season.
I think six would be the ticket for me. The top 6 all get to "vye" for the title. #3 and #4 teams have home games in the first round of the playoff. The top 2 teams get byes/home field for the semi-final. Winners to the ship. (We're talking only 2 weeks to get this done too. Which = right before holidays and bowl season to boot.)
Losers in the playoffs get delegated/rewarded on fine years by finishing up in respectable bowl games. Heck, this is where teams #7-#10 might meet up with some "playoff" team and proove they were better than their ranking in their bowl game. (Could be interesting and keep the bowl spirit in-tact.) Same time frame now for these bowl games, which wouldn't be an issue.
An 8 team playoff, IMO, is too much. That 8th team has never deserved a chance to win a National title. I really struggle to make the case that the 6th team ever deserves it. In the end, usually 4 teams, max, can make the claim. The only reason I would add the next two is to reward that top one or two teams with byes and to make teams 3-4 prove it. Often times, the difference between 4-6 is much smaller than 2-4 as well.
5th and 6th ranked teams often end up ranked 3rd or even 2nd after bowls. Utah went from #5 to #2 the year Urban Meyer revolutionized offense in college football with them. They were so far ahead of the curve they could have shocked anybody.
I agree with you that once you get down to #8 there's almost universally a very concrete reason a team doesn't deserve a shot at a national title.
I'd probably be thrilled with a 4 team playoff or 16 team playoff, but 8 is my preference.
The importance of the bowls won't change from the current format, because either the big-time bowls will be sites of later-round playoffs, or remain separate and keep conference connections for non-qualifiers. Every other bowl below that tier is largely unnoticed now, and wouldn't be any less "meaningful," either to fans or to teams involved.
So you keep that, plus fix the system to determine a champion.
Now, granted, that method has to be done properly (and there are any number of ways suggested to accomplish it). If it's designed correctly & fairly, then the have/have-not gap is simple to solve: ascend to that level.
During seasons when Iowa and/or ISU may be challenging for a playoff spot, but are short of it, they're in discussion for a bid in a process that actually will mean something.