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(cue Ron Paul gif, in a completely playful and non-political sense)
Concerned that their four-team product has been harmed by the dominance of a select few teams from the same region, FBS commissioners are seriously considering expanding the College Football Playoff. And while it’s long been assumed that any change to the format would be modest, several influential decision-makers are suddenly open to a playoff system that skips past eight teams and into the double digits.
“I sense 12 teams is building support,” one Power 5 athletic director said.
The CFP first publicly acknowledged an exploration of larger expansion models in a news release Friday afternoon, and despite a line in that release that the commissioners currently support the four-team model, multiple sources who would be involved with the process have expressed to The Athletic a surprising willingness to contemplate what would have been considered radical only a year or two ago.
“There are two unintended consequences people didn’t see when they created the Playoff,” said a college administrator familiar with the discussions. “One, seeing the same teams over and over from one part of the country. It’s impairing the product, because there’s boredom. … There’s risk to not enough (geographic) spread. Secondly, the brand damage to a conference that doesn’t get in it.”
The CFP release revealed that a working group — made up of SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick — is studying six-, eight-, 10-, 12- and 16-team formats. It’s still possible the commissioners decide to stay at four teams, but the momentum seems to favor expansion.
Y'all old-timers may recall that, back in me days as plain ol' BJD95, I predicted we would skip the nigh-useless "8 teams" stage. I didn't consider 12, which does make sense as a compromise - and very TV friendly (like the NFL playoffs, 2 weekends of 4 fixtures each). Again, the main point is that every team could dream on making the field one day, unlike the current "closed shop."