College football looks ready to make a big playoff leap, but is it too far?

How a 12-team college football playoff would work

SportsPulse: Paul Myerberg explains how a 12-team college football playoff would work and the potential impact that would have on the entire college football landscape.


If you’re one of those who fled to Florida in the last 15 months and made up your mind not to go home and return to Lansing or Poughkeepsie, be warned, we haven’t gotten into the real summer yet.

You may get homesick because, literally and figuratively, this is just a warm up.

But it’s hot enough to make you wonder why we’re here to talk about college football 11 Saturdays before the first all-skate of 2021.

Well, that’s part of the Florida climate too.

How many playoff teams?

An old saying goes that our two favorite sports are soccer and spring soccer, which by default make “waiting for soccer” and “talking about soccer while waiting for soccer” two favorite things to do.

And boy, boy, has the NCAA Vatican Council leaked some juicy talking point.

Is there a playoff with 12 teams coming?

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Maybe. A four-member breakout group on the College Football Playoff Committee has put together a proposal to potentially replace the current four-team playoff system that is contractually bound to continue through the 2025 season but, as we are told, is already expanding could be 2023 (well-placed loopholes are the best).

The idea was presented to the entire governing body last Friday in Chicago, essentially approved and presented to the 11 university presidents and chancellors in Dallas on Tuesday. The lords of the empire will then weigh the income against what is left of their belief in the sanctity of the ideals of students and athletes.

Given that it’s soccer, you’d like to think they left on purpose at 11, but who knows.

Power five, group of five and … Notre Dame!

As I said, the devil is in the details and no, this is not a Nick Saban crack. Originally leaked details spoke of automatic playoff beds for the six top-ranked conference champions and the next six best-rated teams, regardless of conference membership.

That would soothe the have nots of college football a bit. If they go from the top with six conference champions, and since there are five power five conferences (what a coincidence!), At least one conference champion from the “suppressed” group of five would finally get a chance. If someone else works their way up to the top 12 of the final rankings, this team will be there too.

With 12 teams, you can see that four get a bye in the first round, while the other eight compete against each other to give us four winners and a quarter-finals with eight teams. The initial dribbling of information suggested that only conference champions are eligible for a first-round goodbye, which means the independent Notre Dame would not be eligible, which means that this is obviously being tweaked.

Is the college football season going to lose its luster?

And now, after all that, one has to ask: isn’t 12 too much?

This isn’t quite like complaining about thirst just to have a fire hose in your jaw, but it’s not exactly gradual either. Those who have asked for the playoffs to expand have generally spoken of increasing it to six or eight teams and therefore just adding one more weekend of games.

At 12, assuming you aren’t in the first round bye, you’re looking at a potential 16-game season. At the risk of it sounding like this yesterday, it doesn’t feel like college football season to me.

Let’s pull the traditionalist’s helmet further down over the ears and also consider the additional damage done to the once righteous order of the bowl season. And maybe most of all, how tripling the current playoff line-up would also accelerate the loss of the regular season’s importance.

Given what losing can do to a school’s biggest dreams, especially November, college football has long had the most momentous regular season in the sport. And the pageant on Saturday to prove it.

In an earlier generation it was considered good if a new system guaranteed the meeting of the two top-ranked teams for the national championship. The obvious next step came in 2014 with the introduction of our current four-team college football playoffs.

Aside from the annual arguments over who these four teams should be, we seem to have gotten used to a playoff and accepted it. That suggests that at some point (for some, right away) we’d be fine to expand it to eight teams, and yes, maybe even put the 12 into circulation.

But we’re staggering to the point where college football season becomes a time-passing distraction while we wait for the postseason – much like college basketball, only without the option of a real Cinderella.

Who wants that? Yeah that’s what i was thinking.

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