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College Football Playoff could expand to 12 teams

Jan 12, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Detailed view of the 2020 CFP numerals logo on display at the Sheraton New Orleans prior to the College Football Playoff national championship between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a pretty big debate around amateur athletics since the College Football Playoff replaced the now-defunct Bowl Championship Series.

Some argue that four teams vying for the national championship is far too few. Others believe that the current system is just right when it comes to competitive postseason play.

It now looks like the powers that be are considering expanding the current four-team model to 12 programs.

“The CFP’s four-person group — which consists of SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick — is expected to recommend a 12-team playoff,” The Athletic reported on Thursday.

A full announcement with more details on the plan is expected at some point soon, The Athletic noted. The Associated Press reports that the proposal would be considered next week by conference commissioner’s who manage the College Football Playoff system.

How would the new 12-team College Football Playoff system look?

College Football Playoff
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10), Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) and offensive lineman Landon Dickerson (69) celebrate after beating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • The six-highest ranked conference champions in major college football would receive automatic bids to the CFP. Obviously, that includes the ACC, SEC, Big 10 and the Big 12 — the Power 5, so to speak.
  • A total of six at-large selections would also be included in the field of 12. These would primarily come from major conferences, too.
  • The four highest-ranked conference champions would receive first-round byes with the other eight teams playing games on campus.

College Football Playoff history and new proposed format

Arguments on both sides hold some water. Of the seven CFP tournaments in history, the top team has come out on top just twice. That included Alabama this past season and LSU in 2019. Prior to that, No. 1 teams were 0-5 in winning the College Football Playoff.

On the other hand, there’s an argument in play here that suggests expanding the field to 12 teams would create a watered-down product. Let’s use last season as an example.

Under this newly-proposed plan, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Texas A&M would have had a first-round bye. Notre Dame would have had to play a first-round game at home despite finishing as the fourth seed because of its loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Here’s how those matchups would have looked.

College Football Playoff: Alabama-Notre Dame
Jan 1, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) throws against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the fourth quarter during the Rose Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • 5) Notre Dame vs. 12) Coastal Carolina
  • 6) Texas A&M vs. 11) Indiana
  • 7) Florida vs. 10) Iowa State
  • 8) Cincinnati vs. 9) Georgia

How many of these four games would you have been excited for? Either way, this is definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward.