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A Playoff for the “Group of Five?”

Is it time to give the little guys their own stage?

NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Western Michigan at Ohio Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With the advent of the playoff system in 2014, a movement toward autonomy for the Power Five conferences was initiated, specifically allowing the big schools to effectively provide stipends to players in the form of enhanced scholarships and voting power to change rules among themselves without affecting the lower-tier schools. Predictably the rich have become richer and, along with some of the previous G5 powerhouses such as TCU and Utah moving up to the big leagues, have made the likelihood of any team outside of the Power Five ever making the College Football Playoff virtually non-existent.

Northern Illinois Athletic Director Sean Frazier has an interesting proposal, one that apparently has some traction among G5 officials: a separate playoff.

"There is absolutely no ability for us (teams in the Group of 5) to be in that national title conversation," Frazier said. "That's just reality. Anyone that says we can: That's a flat-out lie."

This is just reality, and the Group of Five are in a rather unfair position under the current system. The FCS teams below them have a playoff with enough bids to allow a large number of teams to be in the conversation late in the season. The purgatory that the G5 teams are in would be akin to AAA baseball teams eschewing their own league to join Major League Baseball and compete for the same World Series with the same budget restraints they have currently. It makes no sense.

If this was to happen, there would essentially be a new autonomy for the “mid-tier” schools and long-overdue acknowledgement of a third level that has existed for years. Personally, I’d much rather see them have their own playoff than expand the CFP to include ugly bodybag games that are enjoyable to no one.

Of course, Frazier is quick to point out that this would only be acceptable if the P5 schools continued to share the wealth from the CFP with the G5 schools. The G5 can’t compete with the bigger schools, but they are financially dependent on them.

Still, a playoff for this group would create better football at both levels for the players and the fans. This seems like a win for all involved.