12-team college football playoff is on its way

12-team college football  playoff is on its way
June 16
14:06 2021

The powers that be in college football have finally figured out a way to expand the college football playoff (CFP) system. This is something fans and many teams have been begging for over the last few years. 

The current four-team system seems to have run its course. It was better than the horrible BCS (Bowl Championship Series) that preceded it and that was enough to silence the critics for a short time. Due to the predictable participants of the four-team system, some changes needed to be made to shake things up.

For the last few years, it seemed like a solid bet that Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State would be three of the teams that made it to the playoff, which kind of made things rather predictable and somewhat boring. Since the inception of the CFP, only four teams have won the championship: Alabama (2015,2017,2020), Clemson (2016, 2018), Ohio State (2014) and LSU (2019).  

Opening up the field to 12 teams would breathe life into the playoff system, along with giving several other teams, outside of the Power 5 conferences, an opportunity to show what they are made of against the best college football has to offer.

In the new proposed 12-team format, the bracket would include the six highest ranked conference champions and the next six highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP selection committee.  

The proposal has already caught on with many of the coaches around the country. Kirby Smart, University of Georgia head football coach, said, “Most changes have been relatively small.” He told ESPN’s Marty & McGee this past Saturday, “With the potential of what’s been proposed … [it’s] probably the greatest change there has been in terms of major college football.”

LSU head coach, Ed Orgeron, added, “I think it’s coming. Here’s what I’ve learned. As the older you get, you have to adapt. This game is changing, recruiting is changing, things are changing fast. We just have to adapt. Hey, if they expand, then good. It gives us a chance to get in.”

In order to get the proposal passed, the CFP management committee would have to first agree to the 12-team system in their meetings in Chicago. Following that, it would then have to be approved by the 11 presidents and chancellors who make up the CFP’s board of managers, during their June 22 meeting in Dallas. Even if approved, no changes would be made to the current system in 2021 or 2022.

Many people argue that the regular season in college football is in fact a season-long playoff, making it the most important regular season in all of college sports. To me, that was dumb logic, due to the fact that teams evolve throughout the season. A team that starts the season in September can be totally different in November.

That small room for error has caused many teams to shy away from playing tough out-of-conference opponents and schedule cupcakes instead. I think the new playoff system would allow teams to schedule tougher out-of-conference opponents and still have a chance to play for a title with a couple of losses on their record. Smart also, though it would benefit teams that play a tough schedule.

“I think a lot of this is going to boil down to strength of schedule,” Smart said. “For a long time now, we have been trying to build up our future strength of schedule, because it’s not the losses that are going to kill you; it’s not playing the best teams. We’ve tried to go out and schedule major Power 5s across our scheduling system all the way out with the hopes that this would give us the opportunity to go play some really good teams. And losses won’t kill you when you start talking about Top 12. You’ve got to have a powerful schedule and go play good teams.”

One of the advantages college basketball has over college football is the matchups of out-of-conference opponents. As fans, we routinely have the opportunity to see the top teams play one another early on in the season in various tournaments or conference against conference matchups. This new system would allow us fans to enjoy multiple early season top 25 matchups in college football.

Another benefit of the proposed system is the inclusion of top tier non-power five conference schools. There have been several undefeated non-power five conference schools in college football over the last 20 years, but none of them had the chance to compete for a national championship.

Teams like Boise State, Utah, Coastal Carolina, and Central Florida that are outside of the Power 5 conferences, have had undefeated seasons in the last 20 years. It would have been pretty interesting to see how those teams would have fared in a 12-team playoff. I don’t think any of them would have won it all, but that’s the beauty of sports; you never know what can happen on any given day.

Coastal Carolina coach, Jamey Chadwell, said the new playoff would be a game changer for smaller schools around the country.  

“You’ve got an invitation to the dance now,” he told Marty & McGee. “You actually have an opportunity. I think that’s what everybody’s talking about, is no matter what type of season you had, it was very slim that you ever had an opportunity. Slim to none and slim usually left the building.  For now, you can see a pathway.

“We’ve got official visits going on this weekend and I can look them in the face and say if we can handle business, we have an opportunity to play for a national championship. You’ve never had that opportunity to say that before, and you can do that now. And so that gives you hope, and as Andy Dufresne says in Shawshank Redemption, ‘Hope is maybe the best of things.’”

This could also even the playing field somewhat when it comes to recruiting, because now players know they don’t have to go to Clemson, Alabama or Ohio State to make it to the playoffs. Overall, I see this move as a very positive one for college football. It will bring some much-needed intrigue back into the college football season.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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