How newly proposed 12-team College Football Playoff would work

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College Football Playoff expansion talk continues to escalate at a rapid pace.

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

The College Football Playoff committee released a statement on the proposal Thursday. 

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

How would the new 12-team format work? 

According to ESPN.com, the 12-team bracket would "include the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six remaining highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP selection committee."

That is a departure from most standard College Football Playoff plans that would give automatic berths to the champions of the five Power 5 conferences.

There are some other quirks in the proposal that would generate interest:

  • No conference would quality automatically. 
  • There is no limit to the number of teams from a conference.
  • The top four champions would receive first-round byes.  
  • First-round games would take place on campus. 
  • The quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games. 
  • Bracket would follow rankings with no re-seeding. 

How would that have looked in 2020? 

Sporting News outlined what a 12-team CFP would have liked like in 2020, but this would have changed that outlook. Coastal Carolina, which finished No. 12 in the CFP rankings last year, would have qualified as the sixth-highest ranked champion instead of Oregon, which won the Pac-12 but finished No. 25. 

So the playoff field would have been: 

RANK TOP 12 TEAMS 2020 CFP RANK
1 Alabama (SEC champion) 1
2 Clemson (ACC champion) 2
3 Ohio State (Big Ten champion) 3
4 Oklahoma (Big 12 champion) 6
5 Notre Dame (ACC at-large) 4
6 Texas A&M (SEC at-large) 5
7 Florida (SEC at-large) 7
8 Cincinnati (AAC champion) 8
9 Georgia (SEC at-large) 9
10 Iowa State (Big 12 at-large) 10
11 Indiana (Big Ten at-large) 11
12 Coastal Carolina (Sun Belt champion) 12

12-team CFP vs. four-team CFP

Under this format, there would have been four SEC teams last year. There would also have been two Group of 5 champions, which is notable because a Group of 5 team has yet to make the CFP in its seven-year 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* Penn State Ohio State Ohio State Oklahoma*
Champion 5 Baylor Stanford Oklahoma USC UCF Oregon
Champion 6 Boise State Houston Western Michigan UCF Washington Memphis
At-large TCU Iowa Ohio State* Alabama* Notre Dame* Georgia
At-large Mississippi State Ohio State Michigan Wisconsin Georgia Baylor
At-large Michigan State Notre Dame Wisconsin Auburn Michigan Wisconsin
At-large Ole Miss Florida State USC Penn State Florida Florida
At-large Arizona North Carolina Colorado Miami, Fla. LSU Penn State
At-large Kansas State TCU Florida State Washington Penn State Utah

*Denotes CFP team in four-team format

When will CFP expand? 

The next step for the committee will be to endorse the 12-team proposal or reach aconsensus on an alternative model or decide to retain the current four-team format. It will forward a recommendation to the CFP board of managers, which will meet June 22 in Dallas. 

CFP director Bill Hancock said the current format will not change in the 2021 or 2022 seasons. The current agreements for the four-team CFP extend through the 2025-26 season.
 

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