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What if the 12-Team Playoff Model existed since CFP era began?

DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
10 Year Member
With the announcement of a proposed (not yet accepted) 12-Team Bracket, I decided I'd take a stab at recreating what those brackets would have looked like for the existing years of the CFP (2014-2020).

The proposal as reported by ESPN has the following rules for selection:

  • The 6 highest-ranked Conference Champions get in, regardless of which conference they play in. This is hard to conceive that the Power 5 Champs wouldn't be shoo-ins for 5 of the 6 spots, but technically, you could have champs from G5 Conferences ranked higher.
  • The remaining 6 teams are at-large. No limit on how many teams can come from one conference.
  • The Top 4 Conference Champs get a First Round BYE in the bracket.
  • Teams 5-12 play at the home site of the higher-seeded team.
  • The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played at the six "BCS" Bowls (Fiesta, Sugar, Cotton, Orange, Peach and Rose). I did not go so far as to project which teams would play in which bowls. My hunch is that the two semi-final bowls will rotate and the four quarter-final bowls may get assigned with some degree of history or geography. If you have a USC-Michigan match up as a quarter-final and the Rose Bowl is available, I don't know why that's not the game played at that site.
  • Notre Dame cannot be ranked higher than #5. This is because, as an independent, they do not have a conference to become champion of. Note that on two occasions, Notre Dame would have been ranked high enough to earn a Top 4 seeding, but this rule drops them to the #5 seed immediately. I guess the penalty for not playing in a Conference Championship Game is that you have to jump right into a first round CFP game without the benefit of a week off. This is not a rule I would have thought they'd propose, but Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick was one of the four committee members charged with making this presentation to the wider committee, so I'm guessing he either agreed to it or got put in line rather quickly.
https://www.espn.com/college-footba...all-playoff-consider-expanding-12-team-format


Without further ado, here are your playoff brackets:

 
Last edited:

Frosty1980

Scout Team
2 Year Member
With the announcement of a proposed (not yet accepted) 12-Team Bracket, I decided I'd take a stab at recreating what those brackets would have looked like for the existing years of the CFP (2014-2020).

The proposal as reported by ESPN has the following rules for selection:

  • The 6 highest-ranked Conference Champions get in, regardless of which conference they play in. This is hard to conceive that the Power 5 Champs wouldn't be shoo-ins for 5 of the 6 spots, but technically, you could have champs from G5 Conferences ranked higher.
  • The remaining 6 teams are at-large. No limit on how many teams can come from one conference.
  • The Top 4 Conference Champs get a First Round BYE in the bracket.
  • Teams 5-12 play at the home site of the higher-seeded team.
  • The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played at the six "BCS" Bowls (Fiesta, Sugar, Cotton, Orange, Peach and Rose). I did not go so far as to project which teams would play in which bowls. My hunch is that the two semi-final bowls will rotate and the four quarter-final bowls may get assigned with some degree of history or geography. If you have a USC-Michigan match up as a quarter-final and the Rose Bowl is available, I don't know why that's not the game played at that site.
  • Notre Dame cannot be ranked higher than #5. This is because, as an independent, they do not have a conference to become champion of. Note that on two occasions, Notre Dame would have been ranked high enough to earn a Top 4 seeding, but this rule drops them to the #5 seed immediately. I guess the penalty for not playing in a Conference Championship Game is that you have to jump right into a first round CFP game without the benefit of a week off. This is not a rule I would have thought they'd propose, but Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick was one of the four committee members charged with making this presentation to the wider committee, so I'm guessing he either agreed to it or got put in line rather quickly.
https://www.espn.com/college-footba...all-playoff-consider-expanding-12-team-format


Without further ado, here are your playoff brackets:

Very cool and would be a lot of fun in late December early January!!
 

Puget Sound Husker

All N
2 Year Member
That’s good stuff @DuckTownHusker, thanks for breaking this down. Although I was in favor of expansion, when I saw W Mich (2016), Memphis (2019), Coastal Car (2020) to name a few I lost interest in a 12 team format. I think a group of 5 team should have to at the very least have a play-in game to get an invite. Playing a weak schedule should not be rewarded when the power 5 teams have a much more difficult strength of schedule.

I like a Cinderella as much as the next guy but put those teams I mentioned in a power 5 conference and I seriously doubt they would have the record/ranking they have at the end of the regular season. Maybe use an RPI like other sports do as rankings/records are rarely indicative of how these type of teams compare to power 5 teams.
 

LurkSker44

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
I'm not sure if I like the top 4 getting a bye. Seems like a similar built in advantage like they have now. Maybe make it 16 and at least they have to beat up on someone and play to advance.
 

LarstheRed

Travel Squad
5 Year Member
One concern I would have if we use some form of voting to establish the participants is an effort to leverage conference members simply for financial gain. By that I mean coaches voting all of their conference members at the top of a poll, and strategically voting top teams in other conferences well below where their record should have them placed. An undefeated Oklahoma or OSU voted as a number 25 team, and 2 loss GA or LSU as top 5 teams. There are financial incentives for conferences and their members to try and manipulate more teams in a playoff, and that needs to be controlled.
 

DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
10 Year Member
That’s good stuff @DuckTownHusker, thanks for breaking this down. Although I was in favor of expansion, when I saw W Mich (2016), Memphis (2019), Coastal Car (2020) to name a few I lost interest in a 12 team format. I think a group of 5 team should have to at the very least have a play-in game to get an invite. Playing a weak schedule should not be rewarded when the power 5 teams have a much more difficult strength of schedule.

I like a Cinderella as much as the next guy but put those teams I mentioned in a power 5 conference and I seriously doubt they would have the record/ranking they have at the end of the regular season. Maybe use an RPI like other sports do as rankings/records are rarely indicative of how these type of teams compare to power 5 teams.

I'll have to respectfully disagree. Take a look at when Frost coached UCF for the perfect reason why a G5 Cinderella makes for a great storyline.

The way the selection rules have been proposed, the Top 6 Conference Champions will get automatically selected. In theory, this means you could have multiple G5 Champs who are ranked higher than some P5 Champs. To illustrate this would yield a bracket like the following:
  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Boise State
  6. Houston
Notice the Pac-12 Champ is left out because TWO G5 Champs were ranked higher. A couple of thoughts on this. First, if you're Pac-12 Champ USC and you get outranked by two different G5 Champions, than chances are that either your entire conference was crappy, or you were some massive unranked underdog in the CCG and you managed to pull off an upset over the most highly ranked (but CCG loser) from the other division. In either scenario, you're a less worthy team, in my mind. Secondly, it's still entirely possible your team makes the cut because there are six more At-Large seeds for the 12-team tournament. I can't really fathom a scenario where a P5 Champ falls that badly in the polls, but again, if they did, it's likely an indictment on the entire conference's weakness that season.

In all practicality, though, this scenario is a virtual impossibility. With only five Power Conferences and six seats, we can easily "accept" one G5 Champ without screwing over a single P5 Champ. In other words you'd need to have at least two G5 Champs ranked higher than a P5 Champ to deny them an automatic bid. And you'd probably need something like 3 or 4 G5 Champions ranked higher to push a P5 Champ so far down the polls they cannot get an automatic bid. Either that or you have a year where the B1G and SEC gobble up like 4 slots each. In any event, it's a rarity.

The last time I can think of two G5 teams making a serious run deep in the season was TCU (pre-Big XII) and Boise State having a stretch of good seasons. You could conceivably have a couple of the other usual suspects like Cincinnati, UCF or maybe Houston, but the odds of them all being great at the same time (and a couple of P5 Champs also being crappy) is just really not a big factor.

Also, with six At-Large bids, it gives the P5 Conferences incentives to have more/better members. Getting 3-4 teams into the playoffs will likely become a reality for the SEC and the Big Ten, so you're no longer hamstringing yourself if you load up on a bunch of great teams only to have them sideline each other from a smaller 4-team bracket. This should probably encourage some additional expansion, especially as the Pac-12 and Big XII have room to grow.
 

RedRum

Blackshirt
10 Year Member
With the announcement of a proposed (not yet accepted) 12-Team Bracket, I decided I'd take a stab at recreating what those brackets would have looked like for the existing years of the CFP (2014-2020).

The proposal as reported by ESPN has the following rules for selection:

  • The 6 highest-ranked Conference Champions get in, regardless of which conference they play in. This is hard to conceive that the Power 5 Champs wouldn't be shoo-ins for 5 of the 6 spots, but technically, you could have champs from G5 Conferences ranked higher.
  • The remaining 6 teams are at-large. No limit on how many teams can come from one conference.
  • The Top 4 Conference Champs get a First Round BYE in the bracket.
  • Teams 5-12 play at the home site of the higher-seeded team.
  • The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played at the six "BCS" Bowls (Fiesta, Sugar, Cotton, Orange, Peach and Rose). I did not go so far as to project which teams would play in which bowls. My hunch is that the two semi-final bowls will rotate and the four quarter-final bowls may get assigned with some degree of history or geography. If you have a USC-Michigan match up as a quarter-final and the Rose Bowl is available, I don't know why that's not the game played at that site.
  • Notre Dame cannot be ranked higher than #5. This is because, as an independent, they do not have a conference to become champion of. Note that on two occasions, Notre Dame would have been ranked high enough to earn a Top 4 seeding, but this rule drops them to the #5 seed immediately. I guess the penalty for not playing in a Conference Championship Game is that you have to jump right into a first round CFP game without the benefit of a week off. This is not a rule I would have thought they'd propose, but Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick was one of the four committee members charged with making this presentation to the wider committee, so I'm guessing he either agreed to it or got put in line rather quickly.
https://www.espn.com/college-footba...all-playoff-consider-expanding-12-team-format


Without further ado, here are your playoff brackets:

This is a little surprising. I would have thought the SEC would dominate with a lot of 5-8 hosting seeds. In looking at this, it looks like the BIG who is filling in a lot if those spots.
 

DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
10 Year Member
This is a little surprising. I would have thought the SEC would dominate with a lot of 5-8 hosting seeds. In looking at this, it looks like the BIG who is filling in a lot if those spots.

Yep, exactly. I've always contended that the SEC is better at the top with a few elite teams (Alabama, LSU, UGA) but that the Big Ten is a deeper conference overall. I'll take our "midsection" of teams like Indiana, Northwestern, MSU (and yes, Nebraska currently) versus the SEC middle of Vandy, Kentucky, South Carolina, etc.

Here's a shakedown of the Power 5 conferences. Under this model, the Big Ten and SEC have each put TWENTY teams into the playoffs. The Pac, ACC and XII are hovering at 11-12 a piece.

Actually, if you take away Clemson, the ACC is a pretty weak conference overall. They need to thank God for Dabo and the Tigers' success, otherwise they'd be a distant 5th Place. The Pac and XII are at least fairly well balanced and host a good rotation of teams, minus Oklahoma who almost always gets in.

YearPac-12Big XIIBig TenSECACC
201423231
201512323
201631412
201721332
201811341
201922331
202002241
Totals1112202011
Average1.51.72.82.81.5
 

Middle-aged_Ball_Coach

Eternal Chairman of the Defense Commission
2 Year Member
@DuckTownHusker, I think that your data above does a better job of explaining how they've settled on a 12-team playoff than anything else that I've read. All of the key players are getting what they want: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma are still hoping/planning to be top 4 teams, so they would get a bye and then play someone who just had to play. The B1G and the SEC like it because they would load up with multiple teams. The Pac likes it because they would be assured of getting in. The G5 like it because they can finally crash the party.

It's a pretty good compromise,... so I'm pretty sure that it'll prove to be a disaster. ;)
 

DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
10 Year Member
@DuckTownHusker, I think that your data above does a better job of explaining how they've settled on a 12-team playoff than anything else that I've read. All of the key players are getting what they want: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma are still hoping/planning to be top 4 teams, so they would get a bye and then play someone who just had to play. The B1G and the SEC like it because they would load up with multiple teams. The Pac likes it because they would be assured of getting in. The G5 like it because they can finally crash the party.

It's a pretty good compromise,... so I'm pretty sure that it'll prove to be a disaster. ;)

It also ends the "overloading" argument where we got that LSU-Alabama national title several years back.

Under this arrangement, there are representatives from at LEAST six conferences, maybe more. And further, it's highly unlikely that any single conference would get more than 3 or 4 teams into the mix. That's still only 25-33% of the field. Much better than the SEC taking 2 out of 4 slots and locking up 50% of the bracket.

Also, when we do get to the day where there's an all-SEC or all-B1G championship, it's not completely without warrant or challenge. At that point, one of the contestants would have had to win 2 playoff games (AND a Conference Championship Game) and the other team would have had to win 3 playoff games (and likely lose a CCG, but they still got TO their CCG).

If we get to a year where it's an Oklahoma-vs-Texas National Title game, I'll have to tip my hat to them for winning multiple post-season games against Top 10 competition. At that point, you really can't knock anyone's resume. Everyone who was highly ranked (plus maybe 1 G5 Cinderella) all got a shot and the winners were the ones who beat multiple other Top Tens to close out the season in dramatic fashion.

I know purists will hate this and want us to go back to some Bowl Alliance - Big 8 - Orange Bowl days, but I personally think it's great for college football.
 

DuckTownHusker

Blackshirt Sith Lord
10 Year Member
Season become meaningless

That's literally not the case.

12 teams is still a very small sample size of the entire FBS population. Teams are further incentivized to win out and gain either/both home field advantage and a BYE week.

But, you know, maybe we'll beat Switzer and Bill McCartney this year and play the Big East Champ in the Orange Bowl. Maybe Dean Steinkuhler can even scoop a fumble for a TD.
 

Pops

I have squandered my resistance
15 Year Member
That's literally not the case.

12 teams is still a very small sample size of the entire FBS population. Teams are further incentivized to win out and gain either/both home field advantage and a BYE week.

But, you know, maybe we'll beat Switzer and Bill McCartney this year and play the Big East Champ in the Orange Bowl. Maybe Dean Steinkuhler can even scoop a fumble for a TD.
So the whole thought process becomes being one of the 12 teams

I don’t want to see a 7-5 team win the championship, 8-4 . You sucked during the season hoping to get lucky in the playoffs

welcome NFL lite
 
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