Expanding to 12 Makes Sense, but What’s the Catch

With the College Football Playoff management committee presenting their plans for expansion to the public on Thursday, this decision seems to be all but set in stone for the near future.

“This proposal at its heart was created to provide more participation, for more players and more schools,”

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said.

“In a nutshell, that is the working group’s message.”

Since the first CFP in 2014, of the 28 teams to compete for a National Championship, 20 of the spots have been occupied by Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma. This new format is going to expand the playoff to a new group of schools, fans and markets across the country.

“We probably underestimated — ‘we’ being the A5 commissioners — how difficult it was to be on the outside looking in on a four-team playoff,”

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.

“I think that was a factor. There was certainly lots of consternation around those of us that were left out at one time or another, so I think that was an element of it.”

The new format, which still has an unknown date of implementation, would provide the top four seeded teams to receive a first-round bye, while teams 5-12 will play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked teams. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in bowl games and the national championship will remain at a neutral site.

However, this proposal prevents Notre Dame from receiving a first-round goodbye because the top-four seeds go to the highest-ranked conference champions.

“The practical effect of this will be that with four or five weeks to go in the season, there will be 25 or 30 teams that have a legitimate claim and practical opportunity to participate,”

Bowlsby said.

“That should make for an extraordinarily good October and November.”

Essentially, what expansion does is give every team in the country an opportunity to make it to the college football and an opportunity to make it to the College Football Playoff every season.

For example, last season Iowa State, Indiana and Coastal Carolina would have been the 10-12 teams to make the playoff, all teams who traditionally would never have an opportunity to compete for a championship.

This provides more excitement around the CFP for fans of non-college football powers to be fully invested in the college football playoff.

So What’s the Catch

This system does create more excitement around the College Football Playoff for more fans across the country, but it’s not going to change who reigns supreme in the sport at the end of the season.

Remember, 20-of-the-28 spots in the first seven iterations of the playoff featured at least one Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Ohio State — often at least two or three of those schools. Those schools are still going to be the most likely national champion at the end of each season.

To compete for national championships, you have to have the best players. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have ruled the sport over the past half-decade because since 2018 each of those schools has featured a top-15 national recruiting class, according to 247Sports.

The best high school players in the country don’t often pick their college destination simply based on who is going to win the most games. They pick the school that is going to give them the best chance to make it to the NFL. Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson provide players the best opportunity to make it to the NFL, so the best players to those three blue-bloods.

You could soon hear your favorite college football team selected for the CFP, but don’t expect to see a different national champion on a yearly basis. The sport is still going to be dominated by Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. Everyone else is just playing catch-up.

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