Why the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams is good for the sport

·5 min read

For the second time in less than a decade, college football could have a new method of crowning its national champion. In 2014, the sport ditched the Bowl Championship Series, in which two teams played in a national title game, in favor of a four-team playoff. Now, eight more teams could be on the way.

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo, the College Football Playoff is likely to expand to 12 teams in the near future. A process will play out over the summer with an announcement expected in the fall.

Nobody seems to have the same opinion as to why expanding is a good or a bad idea. Some want to stick with four, others want eight while bringing back the BCS has even been suggested.

Without even thinking about it, 12 seems to be the right number. Not too many to feel like just anyone can get in, but not too few where nobody can get in. With the system reportedly being put into place, a 12-team playoff will be good for college football.

Here’s why:

A tad bit more parity

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Will Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State still make the playoff nearly every single year? Undoubtedly, yes. Will they still be the favorites to win the national championship every season? Again, undoubtedly, yes. But at least it is not just them. From the Big 12 alone, Baylor (x2), Iowa State, Kansas State and TCU (x2) would have featured in the playoff if this format was introduced in 2014. Arizona, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Indiana, and Western Michigan would have had opportunities as well. Seeing these schools and others like them in playoff atmospheres will appeal to people who want something different. Fans of the sport will tune in because Indiana, which has the second winning percentage in FBS history, can still compete for a national championship. Complaints about seeing the same teams playing each other from a playoff/championship, no matter the outcome of previous year's games, have run wild over the past half decade. The expanded College Football Playoff gives us an opportunity for the blue bloods to face other opponents before each other. Even then, it will be in question. Upsets are also what makes college football so magical. If March Madness can do it on a yearly basis, why can't college football? Any given (Satur)day.

Conferences mean more than ever

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Big 12 champions have been left out of the College Football Playoff. The conference could not decide between Baylor or TCU in 2014, while Oklahoma won the conference/title game but was omitted in 2016 and 2019. The Pac-12 has it even worse. Its champion has missed four straight playoffs. As a conference desperate for national attention, it should be leading the way for expansion. Under the proposal, winning the conference championship in early December will automatically put you in the playoffs. Per the Yahoo report, all five Power Five conferences would get a spot while one Group of Five team would get in as well. Only once has the Big 12 championship been a pseudo playoff game. Baylor and Oklahoma fought it out for a final CFP spot in 2019. From the moment expansion is announced, every championship game will have a different intensity to it. From a regular-season standpoint, until you are mathematically eliminated, the season is not over. Make it to the conference championship game and anything can happen.

On campus playoff games

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Search 'best college football atmospheres' on YouTube. Click on the first one. Watch it, enjoy it, and think about how awesome college football is during the regular season. Now, multiply that by 1,000 for a playoff game. Places such as Austin, Eugene, Madison and Happy Valley would provide incredible atmospheres on a yearly basis. Teams would watch the selection show and cringe at having to play on the road. Fans from across the country would bring it, especially in the cold December weather.

Recruiting will spread out

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Of the top 100 players on the 247Sports composite, 41 ended up at Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Coincidentally, those four programs have made the playoff more times than anybody else. With more teams able to compete for a championship, recruiting would again spread out more evenly. The top programs are still going to do well in the recruiting world, but who is to say others cannot catch up? At the end of the day, recruits want to compete for national championships for the three to four years they are on campus. Right now, going to the elite programs is the only option to do so. Don't join them and look from the outside in. Giving eight more teams playoff chances a season will open the eyes of high school players around the country. Going to smaller schools still provides the opportunity to play for a national championship. Recruiting becomes a bit more spread out and parity becomes even more apparent. A top 100 prospect from St. Louis may opt to stay "home" at Missouri to help it compete for an SEC championship and make the playoff instead of branching out to a Midwest powerhouse. More places have a chance to win on a yearly basis and the lifeblood of college football becomes a bit more even.

Schedule reform could follow

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If the current scheduling of 12 regular-season games plus the proposed postseason went through, teams who make the national championship could play up to 17 games in a season. For the college ranks, that is too many. Athletic directors and coaches from across the country would have to agree to cut out at least one game. More likely than not, it would be a nonconference game. Wanting to keep your marquee matchup to sell season tickets, a low Group of Five or FCS team could be the outlier. While universal conference scheduling between eight and nine games may not play out, there could be fewer weeks of "cupcake matchups" for people to consume. Eleven regular-season games followed by a conference championship and potentially four playoff games is more than satisfactory.

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