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#pounditMonday, September 20, 2021

This is what College Football Playoff expansion could look like

College Football Playoff

It is likely only a matter of time before the College Football Playoff is expanded, but there have been questions about what the format would look like if more than four teams were included. A number of different options are being considered, but it sounds like a clear favorite has emerged.

Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports spoke with more than a dozen officials involved with the future of the College Football Playoff. The consensus that he gathered is that there is a strong preference to expand the playoff field to 12 teams rather than 8, 10 or 16. While there is still a long way to go before a definitive decision is made, one industry source told Thamel that he has not heard an option other than a 12-team field discussed in any detail.

Why? There are a number of reasons. In the current College Football Playoff, all four spots are at-large bids. Automatic bids are a virtual certainty if and when the playoff field is expanded. As Thamel notes, an eight-team playoff field would likely feature at least one automatic bid for each Power Five conference and possibly another from the Group of Five. That would leave only one or two at-large bids. Expanding to 12 teams means more automatic and at-large bids.

Another argument against an eight-team playoff is that “snubs” could become more pronounced. For example, a team ranked in the top-five nationally could be left out of the field because a team ranked much lower earned an automatic bid. A 12-team field allows more flexibility.

According to Thamel, the belief is that the format of a 12-team playoff would involve the top four teams getting a bye and No. 5 through No. 8 hosting games against No. 9 through No. 12.

An official decision is still a long way away. One of the most prominent coaches in football has made a valid argument against playoff expansion, but it seems inevitable. As of now, the 12-team format appears to have plenty of support.

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