The College Football Playoff has taken the first step to expand their format to include 12 teams. The sub-group of the management committee announced that they had a proposal moving forward.

The College Football Playoff is seriously exploring opportunities to expand the current format to twelve teams who will play a total of eleven games to determine a National Champion, as the committee announced yesterday, June 10th. Following the success that college football has seen with a four-team format, some conferences have been left out of the fold. They want to be competitive for a National Title again.

It’s true. The College Football Playoff has been largely dominated by three main schools – Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. Oklahoma and Notre Dame have both found themselves competing in multiple years. Only LSU, Michigan State, Washington, Georgia, Oregon, and Florida State have appeared once since the format launched in 2014.

As a result, we’ve seen the competitive balance for the national title shift even more towards the traditional powerhouses. Recruiting has been dominated by Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State overall. Other schools struggle to maintain competitiveness while recruiting because of the lack of interest from top players.

The proposed twelve team format

The subcommittee for the College Football Playoff has proposed a twelve-team format that will help balance the competition in recruiting for all schools. The first round would feature four games between the 5th through 12th seeds. The top four teams would take a bye week. Those matchups would look like this:

12th seed @ 5th seed
11th seed @ 6th seed
10th seed @ 7th seed
9th seed @ 8th seed

The games would be played the week after Conference Championship games on campus and not interfere with any bowl games. If this format goes into effect, we can assume that four-to-ten bowl games will be eliminated as a result.

Let’s take a glance at what this format would have looked like in the 2020 season:

(12) Coastal Carolina @ (5) Texas A&M
(11) Indiana @ (6) Oklahoma
(10) Iowa State @ (7) Florida
(9) Georgia @ (8) Cincinnati

Finishing the proposed College Football format

We saw one of these matchups in a bowl game last year, as Georgia faced off against Cincinnati in a riveting game. It can be assumed that there will be no lack of quality football.

The committee would reserve the top four seeds for the top four conference champions. Teams out of the group of five, Notre Dame, etc., would not qualify for a first-round bye.

The bracket would be conducted on a standard bracket. Here’s what that would look like in the semi-finals:

9/8 winner vs 1 seed
10/7 winner vs 2 seed
11/6 winner vs 3 seed
12/5 winner vs 4 seed

The National Championship game would continue being played on a neutral field as a standalone event, as it has in the past.

What has to be done to push this format forward?

The first step has been completed. The subcommittee has presented its recommendation to the management committee. The next step is for the management committee to review the recommendation at their meeting on June 17th-18th in Chicago, Illinois. They will decide whether to endorse the proposal or dismiss it.

If the proposal is endorsed, it will continue to the College Football Playoff board of managers. They will meet on June 22nd in Dallas, Texas. They will have the opportunity to seriously study the recommendation and ensure that the plan is feasible. However, the board of managers will not make the final decision there. The board of managers is simply searching to approve a summer study period, in which they will look even deeper.

If the summer study period is authorized, the board of managers will reconvene in September.

Is an expanded College Football Playoff good?

We’ve spoken briefly of the problems with the four-team playoff, a point of contention among the conferences. Five major conferences are vying for four spots, and that’s not including the group of five teams who constantly feel left out of the picture completely. Notre Dame, a powerhouse independent school, also fights for a spot, which removes another conference champion from the picture. They’ve appeared twice in the College Football Playoff and have been smashed both times. Then, the SEC has threatened every season to put two teams in the playoff and succeeded in doing so.

The twelve-team playoff is good because everyone gets a chance to compete for a national championship. The point of expanding it to four teams originally was to create more opportunities for schools to compete. It hasn’t worked out the way that they had initially hoped. The Group of Five schools begging for an opportunity will receive it. Each conference will have a chance to win. Everything is decided on the field as it should be.

If all goes well, when will we see it?

With this recommendation, no date of implementation was considered. Bill Hancock, the College Football Playoff executive director, said that the format would not change before the 2023 season. The current agreements for the four-team playoff extend through the 2025 season.

This means that the earliest we could see it is after the 2023 season. So far, everyone involved in the college football playoff is pleased about the looks of this bracket. I would presume that the latest we could see this would be the conclusion of the 2026 season.

I like the idea. It could do wonders to help what is ailing college football. Kids coming out of high school are starting to understand that they can play football anywhere, and the NFL will find them. Now, it’s about broadening where players can compete. Expanding the schools creates a greater competitive balance and should help the future of college football.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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