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College Football Extension expansion could surprisingly flatten the playing field, boosting the regular season


Thursday’s college football game announced a proposed expansion of its stadium size from four teams to 12. There are some surprising elements to the proposed new structure and the number of teams is only the beginning.

Create and expand the tournament structure in college football Traditionally it occurs at a glacial pace. The Bowl Series was the first iteration of a playoff game, albeit one with only two teams, and even that ended with a “divided” national championship in 2003. The BCS lasted for 16 seasons. The College Football Playoff next came in a four-team format starting in 2014 on a 12-year contract.

So, for the powers that be suddenly thirsting to triple the playing field to 12 — skipping previous six- and eight-team models — they’re extraordinarily progressive.

The second biggest surprise to the expansion proposed by this CFP working group is the format, which calls for the field to consist of six top-ranked conference champions and six big teams with the top four champions receiving a farewell.

While this certainly puts a premium on winning your conference, the surprising part is that no concessions are made to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, who can’t win a conference because they’re independent, can’t qualify for an inaugural farewell round even if they finish the season in first place in the CFP rankings. Notre Dame ranked 4th in the world rankings for 2020 and 3rd in 2018; If the 12-team format is present, it will not be ranked higher than 5.

One recent surprise is that this format still doesn’t guarantee a place for champions from every Power Five conference. In fact, had this format existed in 2020, champion Pac-12 Oregon would have missed it. In fact, the 25th female champion was only ranked 8th in the Conference Champion Ranking. No. 8 Cincinnati and No. 12 Coastal Carolina could have made the field, while San Jose State ranked No. 22 higher than Oregon. Two of the five group champions will get playoff places.

While the 2020 season has been an anomaly in every possible way, it shows how strange things can happen, and history has shown us that we don’t need a pandemic for weird things to happen.

Our David Cobb gave you a look at how the 12-team format bracketed the first seven seasons of the CFP, So I will refer you to that, but here are some footnotes on what would have happened had this been around since the beginning of CFP.

In just three of seven seasons, all four teams have been the conference champions. This means we have a good chance of teams outside the top four saying goodbye in any given season. It wouldn’t be surprising if you had a 4-5 match with a higher seeded #5 rating than a #4 seed.

Some of the biggest CFP selection debates will be mostly resolved. Notably, in the first CFP, the big controversy was Ohio State’s jump to fourth in the final standings after winning Big Ten championships as Baylor and TCU, which were idle because the Big 12 didn’t have a conference championship match, didn’t make the field. In the 12-team model, this would just be an argument about which team would get the first round, but all three teams would go into the playoff.

The Buckeyes always seems to be in the center of the CFP controversy. In 2016, Ohio State took an 11-1 lead over Pennsylvania State, which overcame the Buckeyes and won the Big Ten. Nittany Lions ranked fifth behind No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Washington, and missed the final altogether. In the new format, Penn State gets that fourth seeded bye, and Ohio State is fifth.

Ohio State was also in a tight fight for fourth place with Alabama in 2017. The Buckeyes were the Big Ten champions, while Crimson Tide missed playing for the SEC title because their only loss was to Auburn, who won the SEC West title as a result. The committee picked Alabama in fourth, but in the 12-team model, Ohio State would have a goodbye and fifth-seeded Alabama would create an exciting 4-5 match to settle the matter in the quarterfinals.

The differences will now move to the bottom of the standings where all similar teams will feel equally qualified for the last or two places in the big group.

You might be surprised to learn that the conference with the most teams appearing in a 12-team model over the first seven years of the CFP will not be the SEC but the Big Ten. The Big Ten could have put 20 teams into the 12-team playoff with the SEC trailing by one at 19 teams over the past seven years. The Big Ten is also the only conference that would have put at least two teams into a playoff each season and has the only team that would have featured on all seven teams. Ohio State had bid farewell in four of the seven playoffs and was not ranked lower than seventh in the other three.

Clemson and Oklahoma will run six-year appearance streaks with each missing their first CFP in 2014. Alabama will also have six starts, missing in 2019. No other team will make more than four games.

The USA conference is the only one that hasn’t appeared yet. He is also the only person whose team did not finish the season in the final CFP rankings.

conclusion: This proposed 12-team format would bring more energy to the regular season and actually help make it more relevant and interesting, not less, as the powers that be were saying until Thursday. We’ll have to wait a few months to see if it pays off.


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