College Football Playoff officially recommends expanding to 12 teams

·3 min read

The College Football Playoff expansion process is underway.

The CFP management committee is officially proposing a 12-team playoff, the group said Thursday. The 12-team idea was first reported by Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel on Monday. 

The 12-team playoff would feature the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large teams. The current playoff format has been in effect since 2014 and features just four teams. 

The top four conference champions would receive a first-round bye while the eight other teams played in the first round at the home stadiums of the Nos. 5-8 teams. The final three rounds would be bowl games at neutral sites. 

"The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success," the CFP working group that submitted the proposal said in a statement. "But it's important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football."

As Thamel reported, the proposal will be considered at a July CFP meeting. There was no timetable for the implementation of the proposal — if it's adopted — in the Thursday release. 

"Now that the working group has presented its proposal, the management committee will solicit input from university presidents, coaches, athletics directors, student-athletes and others," CFP spokesperson Bill Hancock said. "That input will help inform what the management committee recommends to the ultimate decision-makers — the presidents and chancellors who serve on the board of managers. I do want to remind you that the final decision will be made by the board of managers, and that decision will not come before this fall."

Top seeds wouldn't play at home

If there's a flaw in the 12-team proposal it's that the teams with byes wouldn't play a home game. The current recommendation is for neutral-site games in the quarterfinals and semifinals in addition to the national championship game. 

That would mean that a team seeded Nos. 1, 2, 3 or 4 wouldn't get to play at home during the playoff while the team at No. 5 would get a home game. Granted, that No. 5 seed would have to play an extra game, but the revenue from a home playoff game is certainly going to be significant.

It's also a lot to ask of even the most financially advantaged die-hard fans to travel to three straight neutral-site games. Keeping the semifinals and title game at a neutral site seems like a good compromise, but the quarterfinals should be at home campuses too. The reward for being great should be both a bye and a home playoff game. 

When extra playoff games would be played

The expanded playoff would also mean a later date for the national title game. The proposal outlined Jan. 1 as the approximate date of the four quarterfinal games. Approximate dates for the semifinals and national title game were not specified.

Expanding the playoff also means more games for players. Assuming the 12-game regular schedule stays intact — and there's no reason to believe it will shrink with games scheduled so far in advance — and conference title games being a 13th game for the best teams in a conference, a team could play 17 games in a season if it makes it to the title game. The No. 5 seed would enter the playoff with 13 games and would play its 17th game in the title game.

That's a lot to ask of players who are not financially compensated beyond their scholarships and cost-of-attendance stipends. And it ruins any previous arguments that a large playoff wasn't possible because of the increased time demands for athletes. 

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