How newly proposed 12-team College Football Playoff would work

How newly proposed 12-team College Football Playoff would work

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, 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:

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

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.

Champion 1Alabama*Clemson*Alabama*Clemson*Alabama*LSU*
Champion 2Oregon*Alabama*Clemson*Oklahoma*Clemson*Ohio State*
Champion 3Florida State*Michigan State*Washington*Georgia*Oklahoma*Clemson*
Champion 4Ohio State*Oklahoma*Penn StateOhio StateOhio StateOklahoma*
Champion 5BaylorStanfordOklahomaUSCUCFOregon
Champion 6Boise StateHoustonWestern MichiganUCFWashingtonMemphis
At-largeTCUIowaOhio State*Alabama*Notre Dame*Georgia
At-largeMississippi StateOhio StateMichiganWisconsinGeorgiaBaylor
At-largeMichigan StateNotre DameWisconsinAuburnMichiganWisconsin
At-largeOle MissFlorida StateUSCStanfordFloridaFlorida
At-largeArizonaNorth CarolinaColoradoNotre DameLSUPenn State
At-largeKansas StateTCUFlorida StateTCUPenn StateUtah

*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.


About the author


Donald Langer

Donald is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional cricket and football matches. He is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. He currently caters his skills for the sports section of The Madison Leader Gazette.

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