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College Football Expansion Discussion

Okay, folks, let’s talk CFP expansion. I think, we can mostly agree, that the four team model is less than ideal. It’s marginally better than the old BCS model, but that’s like saying I’d rather pick up my lab’s crap than my great dane’s. 

So, where to go? With the news today, it certainly seems like 10 or 12 is the direction we might be heading, with auto bids for P-5 champs and one G-5 autobid. 

To me, there are two big flaw with the 10/12 team playoff: 1)the likelihood of rematches after the Conference Championship Games and 2) there’s almost a perverse incentive to miss out on the Conference Championship game. 

Let’s imagine a 12 team playoff scenario with 5 P5 conf. champ autobids and 1 G5 autobid if you’re in the top 12. Here are some imaginary Conference Championship Game matchups the week before the playoff field is set:

SEC – #1 Alabama vs #5 Georgia – Result – Georgia wins, moves up to #2, Alabama falls to #5

ACC – #2 Clemson vs. #12 Miami – Result – Clemson wins, Moves up to #1, Miamia drops down to #15

PAC 12 – #6 Oregon vs. #10 USC Result – USC wins by three, moves up to #7, Oregon drops to #8

Big 12 – #4 Oklahoma vs #9 Texas – Oklahoma wins, stays at #4, Texas drops to #10

Big 10 – #3 Ohio State vs. #8 Wisconsin – Ohio State wins, stays at #3, Wisonsin drops to #13

Penn State was ranked 7th and missed out on the CCG. After the CCG games Penn State bumped up to #6

LSU was ranked 11th and missed out on the CCG. After the CCG games LSU moved up to #9

Boise State was ranked 14th, won their CCG, and moved up to 12th 

Florida was ranked 13th, missed out on the CCG. After the CCG games Florida moves up to 11th. 


Okay, so the Auto Bids would be:

#1 Clemson

#2 Georgia

#7 USC

#4 Oklahoma State

#3 Ohio State


Your at large would then be:


#5 Alabama

#6 Penn State

#8 Oregon

#9 LSU

#10 Texas

#11 Florida

#12 Boise State

So, this highlights problem #2 with the playoff. Penn State, Florida, and LSU all missed out on having to play in the CCG and potentially getting knocked out of the playoff, benefited from it, and made it into the playoff. Wisonsin, who let’s say beat Penn State in the regular season, gets knocked out of the running because of their loss to Ohio State. So, in this scenario it benefits some teams to maybe miss out on the CCG and just get in by virtue of a team ahead of them losing in the CCG. I think this potentially creates some perverse incentives.

Anyway, moving on, so here are our hypothetical matchups

Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and Oklahoma get first round byes.

5/12 Alabama/Boise State – Alabama wins

6/11 Penn State/Florida – Florida Wins (yay upset!)

7/10 USC/Texas – Texas wins

8/9 Oregon/LSU – Oregon wins (suck it, SEC)


The next round would then show:

#1 Clemson/#5 Bama – let’s say Alabama wins 

#2 Georgia/ #11 Florida – Let’s say Georgia wins 

#3 Ohio State/#10 Texas – Texas puills off the massive upset

#4 OKlahoma/#8 Oregon – Oklahoma wins in a shootout


In this scenario, your semifinal game is just two rematches of the CCG, with Bama going up against Georgia and Texas playing Oklahoma. I know it seems somewhat unlikely, but I pretty randomly threw teams together and quite easily got to this scenario. I think that’s a big problem. 


So, how do you overcome those issues in a 12 game playoff? I really don’t know. What does everyone else think?


  • ProudUte

    I am for an 8 team playoff.  5 automatic bids to the P5 champs. 1 bid to the G5 if that team is ranked in the top 10.  2-3 at large bids to the next best teams. (This could include a 2nd G5 team if they are the next nest team.)

    • Dwight89

      I think 8 would limit the likelihood of the problems I pointed out above, for sure. Though it would still be a problem. 

    • PhiladelphiaUte

      ProudUte has it right.  Keep it simple.  8 is enough.  And the midmajors have to EARN their autobid.  Not “back in” to it like Memphis did in 2019.  I could even grant the G5 team an autobid if they finished in the Top-12, but Memphis sliding in at #17?  Hell no!  Utah had to earn ours by finishing in the Top-6, so a Top-12 finish is a “gift”.

      • Dwight89

        Yeah there has to be some sort of top-12 requirement for G5’s for sure. I think eight is probably the sweet spot for sure. 

  • UteBacker

    I know I’m in the minority here, and I’d actually be just fine with an 8-team playoff, but I like the 4-team playoff format.  I think what makes college football great is that the regular season is one big double-elimination tournament for the P5 leagues and a single-elimination tournament for the G5 leagues.  There is very little room for error which is what makes the regular season so exciting.  Could #8 Coastal Carolina sneak up and beat #1 Alabama in a first-round playoff game?  Maybe, but the #4 team rarely gives the #1 team a decent contest as it is.  Again, it will expand because they’re missing out on too much $$$ and I totally get that.

    • Dwight89

      I think the biggest flaw in that argument is the fact that there are such little opportunities for big, highly ranked match-ups in the regular season. Each team has 2, maybe 3, huge games each season, and that’s it. To make my point more clear, of the roughly 720 regular season FBS games in 2019, there were only 15, 15, games where both opponents were ranked in the top 12. 

      That’s 2% of all FBS games where both teams were highly ranked. We need more of those games, not less, and the expansion of the playoffs will give us that. 

    • AlohaUte
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      I’ve never disliked CFB more than I do right now and it is a direct correlation with the 4 team playoff. I hate it immensely. In fact, I think I’ll continue to hate it as long as there is a situation where a team can go undefeated and still have zero change of making the playoff. I think the only thing that solves that is where every conference champ gets an autobid, including the Sun Belt, MAC, etc.

    • PhiladelphiaUte

      Ohio St won a natty as the #4 seeded team in the CFP back on. Jan. 12th, 2015.  They first beat #1 Alabama, 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated…


      …then routed #2 Oregon 42-20 in the very first CFP championship game, in Arlington, TX, 2-wks later.

    • PhiladelphiaUte

      CCU might be able to sneak up and beat ybU…..but not ‘Bama.

      • AlohaUte
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        People said the same thing in January 2009, except replace CCU with Utah.

        • PhiladelphiaUte
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          Apart from you and the silly zoobs, literally NO ONE had ever tried to put CCU on the same platform as Utah.  These are two entirely different programs.  Utah had been there before, and, thoroughly dominated the Crimson Tide.  CCU had NOT ever been there before, and narrowly eked past a small-ball loving pretender (ybU), then stopped by another small-ball loving pretender (Lib).

          There’s no legitimate comparison.

  • Here are my two cents.

    Currently, the 4 playoff team is a top-feeder meaning the best get to the national championship, they get the best recruits, they get the biggest paydays, rinse, repeat, make money. Every year, you can expect Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson to put up absolutely monster teams. My problem is that there isn’t enough cycle to this. I want any of the top 20 teams to have a likely shot at winning the national championship. 90% of the spoils shouldn’t go to the top 5 teams or so.

    There’s also an incentive to keeping the season shorter because this is VIOLENT on men’s bodies and they can’t play for 6 months of the year.

    My vote is to play every single team in the conference every single year with a max of twelve teams in the conference with one pre-season game. That’s 4 months of football with 2 byes if my math is correct.

    I think winning the conference championship should be automatic IN. I am for a 12-team playoff which adds a month of football at the end of the season. The other 7 teams would be comprised of a second-in-conference, a G5 team, and an at-large team.

    This gives a possibility of a CCG rematch which I think is totally fine if they truly make it all the way to the final together. They are the best teams, period. This also allows extensive possibility for upsets so no more King Saban garbage every. freaking. year.

    • Dwight89

      On the recruiting front, I totally agree with you. I’ve done the research and there has 100% been consolidation of 4 and 5 star recruits to the top five programs in the last decade, especially after the advent of the 4 team playoff. 

      I believe if you expand access, recruits won’t feel like they need to all go to Bama/Ohio State/Clemson just to get buried in the depth chart. 

      • noneyadb

        That’s just a nod to the coaches and their staffs. FSU, Miami, USC, Michigan, etc… can all recruit any 4 and 5* they want, but that doesn’t automatically correlate to W’s. I think some people are putting to much emphasis on “including more teams will balance the playing field.”

        • Dwight89

          No, I don’t think that’s the case. When I ran the analysis, as time has gone on more 4 and 5* kids have elected to sign with the schools who were also ranked in the top 5 of the previous year than they had in the past. THere is certainly a statistically significant correlation between the playoff and recruiting consolidation at the top. Can I prove causation statistically? I dunno, maybe, I would have to re-run the numbers. But, the numbers are what they are. 

  • Holy s**t, you went 200 iq big brain on this post. I just want the Pac-12 champion to have an auto-bid, I think an 8 team playoff would be the best, but I just want more then 4 at this point

    • Dwight89

      Haha, let’s just say it’s a slow day at work. Agreed! We need to expand!

  • AllInUteFan
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    6 teams – P5 champs if in top 10. Top G5 if in top 10. Top ranked schools step in. Top two ranked teams get bye week.

    My rationale: what is the minimum number of teams needed in a playoff to be sure that the best team is included. If a team didn’t win its conference, it’s not the best team in that conference. No ifs or buts. As noted above, high-quality out-of-conference games are hard to get. So a team that wins a conference with a weaker OOC schedule is currently penalized, even if that team scheduled traditionally strong P5 schools that happened to have bad seasons. Winning the conference championship matters.

    For the record, I would also support an 8 team playoff.

    • Dwight89

      I like the six team playoff idea, for sure. It basically becomes an 11 team playoff because the Conference Championships in most scenarios decides who gets in. 

    • Stone

      I would be fine with the 6 team and auto bids for each conference P5 champ, but I would not qualify it to being in the top 10. That seems to defeat the whole point of giving it to the conference champ. Rankings are subjective. But a team winning its conference championship is objective. A deep conference should not be punished for beating up on itself (prime example would be the Pac 12 this last year in hoops – nobody thought they were good, but they did great in the tournament).

  • Thlete

    8 seems like just the right number. No matter what they do, PLEASE don’t put the early rounds in bowl locations. Reward the better regular season (higher seed) with home field advantage. College football belongs on campus as much as possible. Final 4 can remain in neutral sites.

  • AlohaUte
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    Any system that doesn’t have an autobid for every FBS conference is insufficient. Thus, I support 12 or 16 with 10 autobids and the rest being at-large.

    • MDUte

      This might not be a popular opinion but I’m definitely not in favor of giving all G5 conferences an auto-bid. I’d like to see a highly competitive and entertaining playoff. And if the top 1 or 2 G5’s were given a spot due to being ranked in the top 12 or 10 or whatever, then I think that’s fine. But to have the SunBelt champ or the MAC champ being matched up against Bama and Clemson is a waste IMO. I get that the G5’s want equal access but outside of 1 or maybe 2 top G5 teams each year, they simply can’t compete with Top P5 teams. And it would still be rare IMO that a top G5 team could hang with a top P5. I think it could make for a fun game to watch with the major underdog going up against a top seed. But 1 or 2 of these games is enough for me. If that’s not good enough for G5’s then maybe it’s time to completely separate from each other with a P5-only playoff and G5’s have their own playoff.

      I realize it wasn’t too long ago that we were a mid-major fighting against the college football cartel and therefore my opinion is hypocritical. But thankfully, we are part of the club now. And being on the other side has made me realize that there’s just no comparison between the teams we are able to field today through P5 recruiting vs back in the MWC days.

      At the end of the day, I’d just like to see either an 8 or more team playoff that give us the best opportunity to participate whenever we are able to have a “special season”.

  • leftyjace

  • Johnny

    I’ve always said at least 8 when they started this, but ideally 12. But for starters, these clowns must include all 5 top league champions. One top 12 lower league and 2 at large. Not complicated.

    • i didn’t run out of toes counting your teams. where do the other 2 come from?

  • Charlie

    I agree all conference champs should go to the playoffs. However, the way to do that is to have a playoff for the P5 and one for the mid majors separately. The mid majors might not think so at first but they would enjoy it more and make more money. For the P5, to make it to the conference championship is pretty much making the playoffs so all division champs are in the playoffs. Next, criteria for the 3 at large.

  • A 24 team playoff works very well – NCAA D-I Football Championship.
    A 32 team playoff also works very well – NCAA D-III Football Championship.

    • PS Union College has an interesting logo.