Paul Johnson prefers 16-team playoff

GREENSBORO, N.C. - To Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, the adoption of a four-team playoff to determine a national football champion is merely a step in the right direction.

Johnson, who won two FCS (then Division I-AA) national championships at Georgia Southern by outlasting 16-team fields, said he would prefer a similar format for FBS.

“You take 11 [conference champions] and then you add five at-large [teams], give ’em a chance,” Johnson said this week at ACC Media Days. “If your conference hasn’t done well, you become the 16th seed. You have to go play against No. 1, but at least you had a chance.”

Of eight ACC coaches who were surveyed, three agreed with Johnson in expanding the format, although they favored an eight-team playoff instead of Johnson’s 16. Two professed a wait-and-see stance and two would like to stay at four.

Besides Johnson, those favoring expansion liked the idea of giving champions of the five “power” conferences – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – access into the field along with three at-large teams.

“If you win a conference with 10 wins, then you ought to be able to play for a national championship,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “If you go to eight teams, you can probably accommodate something like that. At four, that might not be good.”

Miami coach Al Golden and Virginia coach Mike London also supported expanding to eight teams.

“You’re talking to a guy that won the national championship [at Richmond] among 16 teams,” London said.

While an argument against a larger playoff holds that the regular season’s importance would be diminished, Golden contended that the automatic bids for conference champions and the chase for an at-large bid would retain the regular season’s importance.

With a four-team field, “one loss and you’re out for the most part,” he said. “But now you’re saying you’ve got to win your conference or apply this formula to be one of those next three [at-large teams]? I think that would be incredible.”

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney like a four-team playoff. Fisher allowed that an eight-team playoff could give a team more leeway to overcome an injury-plagued stretch of the season, but pointed to the NFL for a reason against it.

“Does the best team during the regular season win the Super Bowl?” he asked. “Most of the time, not.”

Both Fisher and Swinney minimized the need for an additional playoff round by contending that conference championship games are de facto playoff games.

“I think what we have really protects that regular season and it also adds a little bit of flavor to the end of the postseason and maybe solves a little of the debate,” Swinney said. “I personally don’t think we’ve spent a lot of time arguing about the fifth and sixth team. I’m sure that’ll happen, but it’s been more the second, third, fourth team.”

Neither Boston College’s Frank Spaziani nor Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe were sure. Grobe cautioned that an eight-team playoff would create a considerable physical burden for players.

“I think if we went to eight, we’d have to cut back to 11 games [in the regular season], get one of those games off the table maybe,” Grobe said.

Spaziani said he didn’t know why playoffs were necessary in the first place.

“The [BCS] system was [considered] so bad, yet college football was going like this in attendance, excitement,” he said, raising his hand in an upward arc. “TV exposure went up and up, [but critics said], ‘It stinks! It stinks!’ … I don’t know. What’s wrong with that?”

Starting in 2014, the college football world will find out. And if Johnson wants to lead the Yellow Jackets into a 16-team playoff, he’ll have to wait until his 19th season to do so. The four-team format is contracted to run through the 2025 season.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

192 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

July 24th, 2012
8:09 pm

“Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney like a four-team playoff.”

Until they are the 5th team …

Oh, gee...

July 24th, 2012
8:29 pm

Prosecutor: Man ‘groomed’ kids for sex

Former Ga. Tech computer technician allegedly abused children he knew….



July 24th, 2012
8:32 pm

8 team playoff makes to most sense…..end of story.


July 24th, 2012
8:46 pm

Oh, gee…, I guess the key word is ‘former’. Right up there with professors going on shooting sprees, huh?


July 24th, 2012
8:48 pm

For the record, I like the 8 team playoff….I don’t see how it would diminish the regular season anymore than a less than .500 record would.

1 4 GT

July 24th, 2012
8:52 pm

I tried to tell ‘em the way to go was an 8 team playoff. But they wouldn’t listen!!!!

Tech Fan Since 1950

July 24th, 2012
9:00 pm

We love Coach Johnson for a number reasons. Number one he is both smart and fair. He won national championships in a division where the NCAA has a playoff system plan that is sane. Unfortunately, the new playoff system for Division I (or whatever you call it these days) is still a fraud and even a bit insane, but maybe it is a beginning for something better down the road. Sure wish the NCAA could act as tough against the old BCS crowd as they did against Penn State. At least come up with a fully sponsored NCAA playoff system for Division I that makes sense.

BIrmingham Jacket

July 24th, 2012
9:07 pm

16 playoff won’t help if you don’t recruit.

CPJ is paid 7 figures for the job, and doesn’t do that.




July 24th, 2012
9:36 pm

If there were a 16 team playoff there’d be less money to pay for his $2.5 million contract since the regular season would have to be cut by 2 games plus the CCGs.

That means that the Conferences will have less inventory to sell to the networks, and that means less money for the schools at the BCS level.

Less money means less pay for HCs.

Under CPJ’s plan a 16 team playoff would dilute the payoff to Conferences because all the smaller crappy conferences would be included and the money would be split among 125+ D1-A Teams.

Under the current format the BCS conferences can MAXIMIZE their TV revenues and still pick up a few extra dollars from a playoff………….ergo a win-win.

Under CPJ’s plan a lose-win.

Something tells me that CPJ didn’t major in Business or Finance at W. Carolina.

Good thing he’s found a way to make a good living by teaching guys to dive at another guys’ kneecaps.

At the max a playoff at the D1-A level will only have 6 or 8 teams.


July 24th, 2012
10:07 pm


July 24th, 2012
10:08 pm

“Oh, gee” the words “former computer technician” make all the difference from those such as “alumnus,” “graduate,” “professor,” “coach,” or “student.” Has your company ever fired a janitor or some other auxiliary position for criminal offenses? I bet they have. I bet UGA has too. Shoot, everyone from global companies down to your local Wal-Mart deal with that kind of issue. Just doesn’t seem like GT’s problem. He is, however, the kind of sicko that needs to be dealt with swiftly and harshly. I hope Dekalb handles that decisively and with no mercy.


July 24th, 2012
10:12 pm

I knew there had to be something that PJ and I agreed on. I have been saying that a 16 team playoff is the right way to go for 10 years. Incorporate the existing bowls to make it happen. GT has no worry about being in it, though, unless they develop a passing attack.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 24th, 2012
10:14 pm

He was probably a FORMER employee of several other places as well, but that doesn’t mean that the sleaze-ball crap he did is a reflection of any of those places. He may have also been a FORMER employee of Macy’s or GSU or some church. For all we know, he also was a former employee at UGA. So what!. It doesn’t matter in the least. No matter where he worked, he is a pervert who deserves the full punishment accorded such creeps


July 24th, 2012
10:16 pm

I wonder why???? When will Tech ever be in the top 4?

Bad Dawg

July 24th, 2012
10:22 pm

When it comes to football, I don’t agree with that trade school on North Avenue about much. However, I completely agree with Coach Johnson about this one. I can’t believe they don’t have a 16 team playoff system. Let them play and let’s see who the best team and conference is. Talk is cheap, it takes money to buy whiskey.

Flying Tiger

July 24th, 2012
10:27 pm

@WnE. Really man, he bother you that much? Does the man really bother you that much? Man get a girlfriend a wife a hobbie, for God sake go fishing. You sound like a boy with a problem. Good luck man hope your blood pressure lets you live to your 30 or so. Geez.


July 24th, 2012
10:38 pm

WnE will be campaigning against every little thing CPJ does or says until the day the man no longer works at Tech. Then whoever is hired next is going to be the devil incarnate to him unless he’s Bobby Dodd reincarnated. Then again, Dodd’s boys could cut block something fierce!


July 24th, 2012
10:40 pm

the reason paul wants a 16 team playoff instead of a 4 team playoff is because no way in the world would GT ever make it to the final 4 but 16 maybe an outside chance.


July 24th, 2012
10:40 pm

hey flying tiger, did you work for them?


July 24th, 2012
10:45 pm

High Tech – I really like the 10 Team playoff.


July 24th, 2012
10:50 pm

TY, probably within the next four or five seasons if we see improvement from our defense and special teams while keeping the O-line recruiting on the upward trend. Tech’s option game paired with a good defense really would be a scary thing to behold. Clock-killing option drives from a Top 3 rushing offense followed by three-and-outs from the other guys? No one wants to be on the other end of that! If you can’t keep the ball, our offense will drive it slowly down the field for points ALL GAME. It’s a death sentence when we have a good defensive game! Ask Clemson. Ask Kansas. If Tech’s defense can eventually build up to a Top 20 level, Tech could easily have an 10 win or better season and have a shot at the Top 4 and a playoff.

Paul in NH

July 24th, 2012
11:00 pm

“Under CPJ’s plan a 16 team playoff would dilute the payoff to Conferences because all the smaller crappy conferences would be included and the money would be split among 125+ D1-A Teams.”

The mathematics here are pretty simple. There are currently 6 AQ conferences + ND that control the BCS – this is a total of 70 schools. Conservative estimations are that a CFB playoff would triple the amount of money paid out compareed to the current BCS. 3/125 > 1/70


July 24th, 2012
11:31 pm

every time i see a +ND anything i want to go and throw up.


July 24th, 2012
11:38 pm

@Spider… I hate to be the one to tell you, but you overrated mutts will never make it in the top four either with LSU, Alabama, USC, Oregon, OlK.. and so on. Maybe you should push for expanded playoffs too! LOL


July 24th, 2012
11:39 pm

CPJ figures that the larger the playoff system the better his odds of getting in.

16 teams are way too many, this is not a basketball tourney.


July 24th, 2012
11:45 pm

CPJ should worry about filling up that empty high school stadium at Tech and not worry about a NC at this time.

The stadium is a small stadium in the middle of a large population and you can walk up to any game and get great seats (behind a pole or two perhaps). Be careful in the parking lots.


July 24th, 2012
11:52 pm

I haven’t read each comment in its entirety so I may be duplicating here. I like an 8 or 16 team play-off personally. I would think that CPJ might favor the 16 team playoff due to the system he runs. If Tech (or his next team) were to be in the top 16 (even at a 16) it could create nightmares for a higher seeded team with them having only 1 week to prepare for the tripple option. It would give any CPJ coached team a better than average chance of advancing and even possibly winning a NC. With a 4 team playoff, the odds are not in his favor of being in the top 4 very often. Top 16? That’s plausible. I can assure you that teams like BAMA and LSU would rather face each other than a tripple option team with only a week to prepare. After all, Georgia Southern put more points on the board against BAMA than LSU did (in 2 games). The tripple option is a nightmare to prepare for (especially in one week), and I don’t care what anyone thinks about it being a high school offense or not. With a 16 team format, all you have to do is run off 4 in a row without any team having a month to prepare for the option and he wins a NC at the D-1 level to go with the one he won at Southern. No, I don’t think the tripple option is the best system over the long haul but for a short span, it could be the right recipe.

Supersize that order, mutt

July 24th, 2012
11:53 pm

dap01, perhaps you don’t remember when Sanford & Son Stadium was a tiny stadium in a hick town, and periodically they had to play games at Grant Field just to attract a crowd. And that, bubba, was as recent as the early 60s.


July 24th, 2012
11:57 pm

Georgia tech will need a 64 team playoff if they ever hope to get in. 10 out of 11

Supersize that order, mutt

July 25th, 2012
12:06 am

UGA will have to leave the SEC if they ever hope to get in.


July 25th, 2012
12:13 am

Cody and dap01, no matter what you say, you will not change reality and make Georgia Tech magically become Duke or Wake Forest. No, we haven’t beat the dwags in a while, and, no we haven’t made a habit of it. But just because your team is focused on a national title lately and has a huge following doesn’t mean Tech isn’t a darn good team in a darn good location. God help you and the rest of our opponents if our recruiting ever breaks through to the top levels and we’re still running option spread with a 3-4. Ask your own players if they enjoy preparing for that game!


July 25th, 2012
12:22 am

i like CPJ’s 16 team idea. it works just fine at the DII level and the winner is actually recognized by the governing body (ncaa) as national champs.

an 8 team playoff should be the next step.

4 teams playing bowl games then the winner playing for the MNC isn’t a playoff, it’s a plus one. not the same at all.

North Ave Killer Beez

July 25th, 2012
12:55 am

If Tevin is going to be the starter, we better hope for a 64 team playoff like hoops. Still may not have a shot. What is Johnson thinking?


July 25th, 2012
1:13 am

North Ave, the best way to put it to you is that Tevin will be pulled if he doesn’t produce the passing numbers in the first two quarters of play. His leash will be shorter with so much speed and passing ability behind him on the roster. We have to play basically the whole division at the beginning of the season. If we don’t pass efficiently (not often, just efficiently), then we have to try another QB and other receivers. CPJ will do what we need to do to win games.

Jacket Man

July 25th, 2012
6:34 am

Let’s see; the NCAA (and the fans for that matter) LOVE March madness, which I believe has more than four teams competing, and also, RIGHT NOW, baseball, golf, tennis and track and field teams include more than four teams in their championship(s) matches. As mentioned in the article, even the lower “tiered,” NCAA sponsored, football Championships, more than four teams are invited to participate. So why is it that in the biggest stage of them all that these aren’t able to handle the rigors every other sport (or even the same sport but at a lower division) can? Are the Division One players less intelligent? Is their time more valuable? Is their course load harder? What, pray tell, makes them so much more special than every other collegiate athlete?

[...] Johnson is in favor of a sixteen-team playoff.  Of course he is, bless his heart.  And for just the reason you’d expect. “You take 11 [conference champions] and then you add five at-large [teams], give ’em a [...]


July 25th, 2012
6:58 am

8 team playoff
Win your confrence (big 6) and your in IF you finish in the top 12 per the BCS formula system.
BCS formula determines at large teams.

GOAL – Best 8 teams are in.

Comon PJ….. 11 confrence winners auto in???? I mean the ACC champ last year was ranked 16 going into bowls? Then got 60 plus hung on em. WhaT A JOKE 1 VS 16 WOULD BE….. Best teams in the playoff wheather its 4, 8, or 16


July 25th, 2012
7:09 am

Any ACC coach should be calling for a 16 team playoff. That’s honestly their only hope of getting in. Did they really think that raiding the Big East would make them competitive? I thought there were supposed to be smart people in the ACC? Not so much, apparently.


July 25th, 2012
7:15 am

The wonderful thing about an ACC school they have rich alumni, the real reason we have colleges in the first place. They do not depend solely on the gate and television and in doing so do not compromise the academics as far as a Penn State or so many others. The NCAA is like a Catholic priest to the mob, window dressing to a world of evil. What made college football great was its grass root American makeup. What will ruin it is its corruption and political machinery.


July 25th, 2012
7:26 am

CPJ thinks if there are 16 teams he might have a shot.


July 25th, 2012
7:33 am


If CPJ really wants a shot at the playoffs, then he should be calling for 64, rather than 16 teams.


July 25th, 2012
8:01 am

I agree with CPJ. Why did they have to make the 4-team format through 2025??? *Head Desk*


July 25th, 2012
8:01 am

Glad to see so many UGA fans worried about what CPJ says. Means they are either still sore about 2008 or they are worried about the GT game this year.

Uncle Tom

July 25th, 2012
8:10 am

D———-You’re right. We’re still upset about 2008. We shouldn’t lose to Tech more than once every 20 years—-about the Vanderbilt ratio.


July 25th, 2012
8:11 am

Thank you, Supersize. I am just old enough to remember UGA playing in ATL. Not old enough to understand why, but the dim memory is there.
But don’t get too up tight about the UGA stuff – it’s just their form of ad hominem attack – if you can’t dispute the facts, aim at a likely but tangential target.
Besides, I’ll take quality over quantity every time…even in ice cream. But then, I am getting old.
Regarding playoffs, whatever comes next must be an improvement. But in the end, I’d take a good, representative team educating and graduating its players, keeping them healthy and maintaining a ‘clean’ record over any NC.


July 25th, 2012
8:12 am

“Honesty”, the ACC expansion was focused on bringing more revenue and becoming the best basketball conference. Not everything revolves around football. BOOM ROASTED


July 25th, 2012
8:19 am

Sure he favors a 16 team playoff…..That would be the only possible (and slightly at that) way of Tech to ever be in the playoffs.

Birmingham Jacket

July 25th, 2012
8:27 am

CPJ needs to stop worrying about a playoff and focus his efforts to sign us a recruiting class that actually cracks the top 50.


July 25th, 2012
8:34 am

One of the biggest problems with playoffs is the polls, specifically pre-season polls. Remember two years ago, after Alabama lost 8 or 9 starters on D, they were No. 1 in the pre-season polls. Even Tony Barnhart wrote ‘em up as the preseason fave.

Tide lost at least 3 games that year, but didn’t fall out of the top 10 in the polls until their 3rd loss.

Pollsters are the biggest flaw in the system.


July 25th, 2012
8:37 am

@ B’ham Jacket

Did you really grad from Tech? Seriously, don’t buy the recruiting class hype. Coach Spurrier used to beat Goff’s dawgs all the time with “lesser” recruits. Darth Visor also let everyone know about it, too! LOL.