How the new 12-team college football playoff proposal would work

Discussions about the expansion of college football playoffs continue to escalate at a rapid pace.

A proposal that would expand the playoffs from four to 12 teams will be presented to the league commissioners. Athleticism first reported the news Thursday, and it comes two days after a report from Yahoo Sports that a A 12-team model was envisaged.

The college football playoff committee released a statement on the proposal on Thursday.

The management committee will meet in Chicago on June 17-18. The 12-team model is somewhat unexpected given that most playoff expansion assumptions revolve around eight-team formats.

How would the new 12-team format work?

According to, the 12-team bracket “would include the six top-ranked conference champions and the remaining six top-ranked teams, as determined by the CFP selection committee.”

That’s a departure from most of the standard college football playoff plans that would give automatic spots to the champions of all five Power 5 conferences.

There are other quirks in the proposal that might spark interest:

  • No conference would automatically be of quality.
  • There is no limit to the number of teams in a conference.
  • The top four champions would receive first-round exemptions.
  • The first round matches would take place on campus.
  • The quarter-finals and the semi-finals would be played in bowls games.
  • Bracket would follow the rankings without reseeding.

How would it have looked in 2020?

Sports news described what a 12-team CFP would have liked in 2020, but it would have changed that perspective. Coastal Carolina, who finished 12th in the CFP rankings last year, would have qualified as the sixth highest ranked champion instead of Oregon, who won the Pac-12 but finished in 25th place.

Thus, the field of the playoffs would have been:

1 Alabama (SEC champion) 1
2 Clemson (ACC champion) 2
3 Ohio State (Big Ten Champion) 3
4 Oklahoma (Big 12 champion) 6
5 Cincinnati (AAC champion) 8
6 Coastal Carolina (Sun Belt champion) 12
7 Notre-Dame (ACC in the broad sense) 4
8 Texas A&M (SEC broadly defined) 5
9 Florida (SEC in general) 7
ten Georgia (SEC in general) 9
11 State of Iowa (Big 12 in general) ten
12 Indiana (Big Ten in the broad sense) 11

12-team CFP vs four-team CFP

In this format, there would have been four SEC teams last year. There would also have been two Group of 5 champions, which is remarkable as a Group of 5 team has yet to reach the MFF in its seven years of existence.

TEAMS 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Champion 1 Alabama* Clemson * Alabama* Clemson * Alabama* LSU *
Champion 2 Oregon* Alabama* Clemson * Oklahoma* Clemson * Ohio State *
Champion 3 Florida State * Michigan State * Washington* Georgia* Oklahoma* Clemson *
Champion 4 Ohio State * Oklahoma* State of pennsylvania Ohio state Ohio state Oklahoma*
Champion 5 Baylor Stanford Oklahoma USC UCF Oregon
Champion 6 Boise State Houston West Michigan UCF Washington Memphis
In general TCU Iowa Ohio State * Alabama* Our Lady* Georgia
In general Mississippi State Ohio state Michigan Wisconsin Georgia Baylor
In general Michigan State Our Lady Wisconsin Auburn Michigan Wisconsin
In general Be Miss Florida State USC Stanford Florida Florida
In general Arizona North Carolina Colorado Our Lady LSU State of pennsylvania
In general Kansas State TCU Florida State TCU State of pennsylvania Utah

* Denotes the CFP team in the format of four teams

When will the PSC expand?

The next step for the committee will be to approve the 12-team proposal or reach consensus on an alternative model or decide to keep the current four-team format. He will make a recommendation to the CFP Board of Directors, which will meet on June 22 in Dallas.

CFP manager Bill Hancock has said the current format will not change during the 2021 or 2022 seasons. Current agreements for the four-team CFP extend through the 2025-2026 season.


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