The creation and expansion of the league structure in college football has traditionally taken place at an icy pace. The Bowl Championship Series was the first iteration of a playoff series, even though it only had two teams, and even that ended in a “split” national championship in 2003. The BCS lasted 16 seasons. The College Football Playoff came next with a four-team format starting in 2014 on a 12-year contract.
So for the powers that be, suddenly craving to triple the field to 12 – jumping right in front of the six- and eight-team models – is unusually progressive.
The second biggest surprise of the expansion proposed by this CFP working group is the format, which calls for the pitch to be made up of the six top-ranked conference champions and six overall teams, with the top four champions receiving byes.
While this certainly gives a bonus to winning your conference, the surprising part is that no concessions were made for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish, who cannot win a conference because they are independent, cannot qualify for a first round pass even if they finish the season in first place in the CFP standings. Notre Dame finished n ° 4 in the ranking in 2020 and n ° 3 in 2018; if the 12-team format had existed then, it would not be ranked higher than No.5.
A final surprise is that this format still does not guarantee a place for the champions of every Power Five conference. Indeed, if this format had existed in 2020, the Pac-12 champion, Oregon, would have missed it. In fact, the No.25 Ducks were only the eighth highest ranked conference champion. The No.8 from Cincinnati and No.12 from Coastal Carolina would have been in the field, and the No.22 from San Jose State was also higher ranked than Oregon. Two champions in the Conference Group of Five would have earned playoff spots.
Even though the 2020 season was an anomaly in every way it could be, it shows just how weird things can happen, and history has shown us that we don’t need a pandemic for weird things to happen. produce.
Our own David Cobb has given you a glimpse of how the 12-team format would have been bracketed over the first seven seasons of the CFP, so I’ll refer you to it, but here are some footnotes on what’s going on. would have happened if it had existed. since the start of the CFP.
In just three of the seven seasons, the four playoff teams have all been conference champions. That means we have a good chance that teams outside of the top four will receive passes in any given season. It won’t be surprising to have a 4-5 game with the No.5 seed ranked higher than the No.4 seed.
Some of the biggest debates about the selection of CFPs would be mostly resolved. Notably, in the first CFP the big controversy was the Ohio State which jumped to No.4 in the final standings after winning the Big Ten Championship while Baylor and TCU, who were inactive because the Big 12 did not have conference championship game, did not make the pitch. In the 12-team model, that would just be an argument as to which team gets a first-round pass, but all three teams would enter the playoffs.
The Buckeyes always seem to be in the midst of the CFP controversy. In 2016, 11-1 Ohio State edged 11-2 Penn State, which beat the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions were ranked No.5 behind Ohio State No.3 and Washington No.4, completely missing the playoffs. In the new format, Penn State gets the fourth seed with a bye, and Ohio State is fifth.
Ohio State was also in a close battle for fourth place with Alabama in 2017. The Buckeyes were the Big Ten champions, while the Crimson Tide missed the SEC title game because their only loss was against Auburn, which won the SEC West as a result. The committee picked Alabama for fourth place in the playoffs, but in the 12-team model, Ohio State would get a pass and Alabama would be the fifth seed, putting together a potentially juicy 4-way game. -5 to settle the question in the quarter-finals.
Controversies will now descend in the standings where similar teams will all feel equally qualified for the last or the last two places in the general pool.
You might be surprised to learn that the conference with the most teams appearing in a 12-team model in the first seven years of the CFP would not be the SEC but the Big Ten. The Big Ten have reportedly placed 20 teams in the 12-team playoffs, with the SEC losing one of its 19 in the past seven years. The Big Ten are also the only conference that has reportedly put at least two teams in the playoffs each season, and has the only team that has appeared in all seven of them. Ohio State would have received a pass in four of the seven playoffs and would have been ranked at least seventh in the other three.
Clemson and Oklahoma are said to be on a six-year streak, each missing the first CFP in 2014. Alabama would also have six appearances, missing in 2019. No other team would have more than four appearances.
Conference USA is the only conference that has not yet appeared. It is also the only one not to have a team that ends the season in the final CFP classification.
Conclusion: This proposed 12-team format will bring more energy to the regular season and actually help make it more relevant and interesting, not less, as the powers that be said until Thursday. We will have to wait a few months to see if this materializes.