According to a recent report by Pete Thamel, the clubhouse favorite model for College Football Playoff expansion is not six or eight, but 12 teams. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum calls it “one of the biggest shocks in the history of college sports.”
Fairness to the Group of Five schools has rarely been a major concern of the powers that be in college football. However, Thamel cites that, plus a lack of different schools making the field as two concerns fully answered by going to 12 teams. It also keeps more big-time players involved, as the Playoff would take up more of the bowl schedule. Just 11 different programs have reached the four-team Playoff, and in 2020-21, we had no new programs for the first time in the seven year history of the event.
“A 12-team version would answer a lot of the immediate looming issues with the College Football Playoff — lack of diversity of programs, access for Group of Five and the erosion of the importance of supposed top-tier bowl games outside the CFP thanks to player opt-outs,” Thamel writes.
Finebaum is pretty shocked by the possibility of this big of an expansion. He spoke about it on Wednesday morning’s Get Up.
“Well, I’m still shocked Greeny when I heard this story the other day,” Finebaum said. “You have to remember the people who run college football are still using flip phones. They haven’t heard about the iPhone 1, or 12 or 15. The idea that these people who have been steadfastly defending the four as if there’s no other possibilities, suddenly to go to 12 is one of the biggest shocks in the history of college sports.
“I think they’re going to do it. I think they’re tired of fighting the status quo. They know what everyone is saying. They can’t really give you a justification why they would go from four to 12, but they’re going to do it because there’s a lot of money at stake and it’s time to change the narrative of college football.”
Using 2020 as an example, with the top four of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame getting byes to start the postseason (and assuming the final rankings would have shaken out the same way), we would have gotten these first round matchups:
5 Texas A&M vs. 12 Coastal Carolina (winner plays 4 Notre Dame)
6 Oklahoma vs. 11 Indiana (winner plays 3 Ohio State)
7 Florida vs. 10 Iowa State (winner plays 2 Clemson)
8 Cincinnati vs. 9 Georgia (winner plays 1 Alabama)
That sounds like a pretty good time to me.