As the College Football Playoff takes shape this month, sources indicate to @YahooSports that a 12-team model is the early favorite to emerge as the next version of the CFP. Here's why: https://t.co/ZBt94PJA2U— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) June 8, 2021
We all knew expansion to the College Football Playoff was coming. Earlier this week it was reported that a 12-team playoff is the preferred model. Of course when college football thinks they are doing something good, it is the opposite. Like when your parents think they have stumbled upon something this is hip to bond with you over, only to explain to them that it is at least five years out of date.
As soon as it was revealed that a 12-team playoff could be in the works, I let out a giant sigh. While there are some positives to a 12-team playoff, I feel like there are more negatives to expanding the playoff by eight teams.
What to hate about a 12-team playoff
So what are my biggest issues with a 12-team playoff? The biggest problem is it makes the regular season essentially irrelevant. Ohio State, Alabama, and other powers can pretty much sleepwalk through the regular season, lose a couple games, and still not have to sweat getting a spot in the playoff. Right now they have a little room for error, but with a 12-team playoff it’s not crazy to think we could see a two or three loss Ohio State in the playoff, or even a couple SEC teams with multiple losses.
To say the College Football Playoff games so far have been largely underwhelming is an understatement. You can count on one hand the number of CFP games that have actually been entertaining. Expansion isn’t going to fix that problem. If anything, you might see bigger blowouts in the semifinals or finals if a double-digit seed pulls an upset or two. Then you could possibly see a 12-seed in the semis taking on the top-seed. Just imagine you might have Alabama taking on a Group of 5 team. I’d be shocked if a game like that stays within three touchdowns.
Another question is what happens to the conference title games? If you are going to ditch them in favor or an expanded playoff, then that’s totally fine. I just can’t see keeping them AND expanding the playoffs. Then you could possibly have teams playing 15-16 games if they get to the title game. That’s essentially an NFL regular season. College football already feels gross when it comes to the exploitation of players, that to add on to the season even more is just wrong. The only saving grace is that by this time there should be NIL regulations in place so that players can at least get some of the pie.
What to like about a 12-team playoff
Not that I hate everything about a 12-team playoff. At least with an expanded playoff there will be some fresh blood involved. Since its inception, the playoff has pretty much been dominated by Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma. A couple other teams have been sprinkled in, but there hasn’t been much variety. That’s fine if you are a fan of one of those teams, but for everyone else it can be really lame. An expanded playoff should make room for at least one Group of 5 team, which is also exciting. Maybe we can get an exciting Cinderella run in somewhere like we see in March Madness.
Another thing an expanded playoff will help with is early opt-outs before bowl games. I don’t blame players not involved in the CFP from opting out in the current system. Why out your future on the line for some meaningless hunk of metal a school may get for winning the Pinstripe or Outback Bowl? This would at least keep some of the best players on the field a little longer before they head off to the pros.
The best model for the playoff
So if I hate the 12-team playoff so much, what do I think would work best? My preferred model is an eight-team playoff. The conference champions from each of the Power 5 conferences, the highest-ranked Group of 5 team, and two at-large bids. You make the regular season mean something, you could give the top-four seeds a bye if you still wanted to give them a bit of an advantage for being the best in the country, and the playoff doesn’t become too watered down with a bunch of teams from the same conference.
It’s obvious that a 12-team playoff is really nothing more than a cash grab. I totally understand it since really the only job of the College Football Playoff is to make tons of money, and this would definitely accomplish that. As much as I hate to admit it, maybe the BCS did have it right after all.