Calls for an expanded College Football Playoff have been around about as long as the four-team event itself. When the inevitable happens and the number of teams is increased, conventional wisdom is that it will be to six or eight teams.
That may be underselling teams. Over the last few weeks, it has been reported that the College Football Playoff committee has discussed expansion. The group has reportedly discussed dozens of different permutations, ranging from six teams up to 16.
Even a bump up to six can help make for a pretty natural field, with the potential for five power conference autobids and an at-large. The bigger the field, the more likelihood that a representative from the Group of Five leagues could sneak in as well, though it is unclear how much interest the powers that be have in that.
Somewhat surprisingly, however, it sounds like a 12-team playoff could be a reality. According to Stewart Mandel and Andy Staples of The Athletic, that model, which would triple the size of the current playoff, is gaining serious momentum.
Turns out, that was not just a line in a press release.
Momentum is building among key power-brokers to not just expand the College Football Playoff but go beyond eight teams. “I sense 12 teams is building support.”
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) April 28, 2021
“I sense 12 teams is building support,” a Power 5 athletic director told The Athletic. Six, eight, 10, 12, and 16-team formats are also being studied according to multiple reports, and there’s a chance that things stay at four teams, though that chance is dwindling.
Given how the last few College Football Playoffs have played out, it makes sense that the decision makers here are suddenly open to a more inclusive format. While a major argument for four teams is that there are only a handful of true national championship-quality teams every year, the four-team format hasn’t always delivered a bunch of good games. In 21 CFP-era games, including semifinals and national championships, only six games have been decided by one score. The three games this past season were decided by an average of 22 points.
If the games are no guarantee to be competitive, giving fans some more programs to watch and bringing in schools and regions that are left out can add some juice to the proceedings. Increased game inventory, which means more money for the sport, is a big plus as well.
It is unclear how quick a turnaround there may be on a decision here, but it does sound like the next iteration of the College Football Playoff is coming, and it will be a much bigger change than anyone could have realistically expected.
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