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Hope In the Form Of An Olive Branch: 12-Team Playoff Proposal

Today I got a press release describing the proposal for the 12-team format devised by the College Football Playoff management committee sub-group. No doubt this has been filling your social media feed.

The important summary is that it is one that includes more teams than just the top-four. It is not perfect — the CUSA champion is not guaranteed anything (but neither is anyone else .. on paper) — but it is progress. Another important note is that the process for potentially adopting this format will not conclude “before this fall”.

This proposal comes after two years of looking at various formats. Here it is:

  • Six (6) highest ranked champions AND
  • Six (6) highest ranked other teams as deterred by the CFP selection committee.
  • No automatic qualifiers
  • No limit on number of participants from a conference
    Top seeds (1-4) are given a bye
  • Seeds 5-12 play a first round at home of higher seed 5 v 12, 6 v 11, 7 v 10, and 8 v 9
  • Quarterfinals and semifinals would be bowls (like current version) while championship is at neutral site.

Applying this to last year, we would get the following:

Conference champs and the CFP ranking in () on the final rankings sheet:

SEC: Alabama (1)
ACC: Clemson (2)
BigTen: OSU (3)
Big 12: Oklahoma (6)
American: Cincinnati (8)
Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina (12), Louisiana (19)
MWC: San Jose St (22)
Pac 12: Oregon (25)
MAC: Ball St

The rest of the top 15 that had not won a title:

ND (4)
TAMU (5)
Florida (7)
Georgia (9)
Iowa State (10)
Indiana (11)
UNC (13)
Northwestern (14)
Iowa (15)

So it would roughly be Alabama, Clemson, OSU, OU, Cinci, Coastal, ND, TAMU, UF, Georgia, Iowa State, Indiana.

You will notice that this proposal applied to last year 1 would add everyone’s favorite Cinderella out in Coastal Carolina while leaving Louisiana out, but adding Cincinnati as the other “G5” school. Convenient

Also added would have been three other SEC programs. Convenient.

In any case this proposal will be considered and reviewed at the next management meeting in Chicago June 17-18. Their recommendation will be forwarded to the board of managers, who will meet in Dallas on June 22.

CUSA-related board of manager members include USM president Rodney Bennett. The four-team format agreements are in place through the 2025-26 season. Executive Director Bill Hancock said that the new proposed format — if agreed upon — would not happen in the next two seasons.

There is some other information about timing — the first round games would be after the championship game etc, and which bowls would be a part of it all. This is not particularly interesting to me or — I imagine — you as a follower of CUSA football. The main thing would be to get (if this is approved) a team in the highest echelons of the rankings. As we saw with Coastal Carolina and Louisiana in the Sun Belt, even great seasons do not mean they would be in the playoff in the case of the latter.

We should note a tweet I saw from NT Athletic Director Wren Baker:

He likes it. None of this is ideal, and even the great equalizer that is the NCAA tournament really stacks the deck for the bigger programs. That tiny chance that is afforded the smaller conferences is all that some have needed to turn their programs into giants, however. So this may not be ideal, but it is something and that is great.

  1. Last year was very strange in a lot of aspects and so let us just say that is “acknowledged” and move on.

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