“So, it’s four or 12.”

As someone who is not a fan of playoff expansion, the thought that the people running the sport may be just petty enough to let their personal feelings stop the contemplated move to a 12-team playoff fills me with a certain glee.

It is the latest and maybe the most important chapter in a somewhat contentious and frustrating saga that’s existed since June, when a subcommittee of conference commissioners announced a 12-team playoff format that at first drew overwhelming praise but has recently faced pushback from their colleagues.

Commissioners enter the meetings having either resolved or have deemed resolvable some of the issues explored in this story from September, including the Rose Bowl, media rights partners and on-campus games. However, more obstacles stand in the way: As many as three league executives, most notably the ACC, prefer an eight-team format.

“What’s holding us up is the eight versus 12,” says one source.

Be still, my heart.  I mean, they really can’t be that egregiously moronic, can they?

Apparently, the possibility exists.

Twelve teams tripled the field. It was all-inclusive. Then suddenly, after a few conferences got their feelings hurt, it wasn’t.

What’s become obvious over the last few months is that it’s either four or 12. There is no in-between.

“We will end up staying at four,” a person intimately involved in the talks told CBS Sports over the weekend.

The math is actually very simple.  The vote to expand the playoffs has to be unanimous, so any conference or Notre Dame has veto power over any given proposal, which is why an 8-team proposal is DOA.

However, there exists a deep divide on each of the two eight-team models. Group of 5 commissioners say they will not vote for an eight-team format that does not grant them an automatic berth into the field—a “Best 8,” as it’s known. Meanwhile, several commissioners, including the SEC’s Greg Sankey, are against an eight-team model that provides six automatic qualifiers to conference champions and two at-large spots—a “6+2” format that they believe would leave out worthy schools.

Including Notre Dame, which makes them another veto point.  Expanding the overall field while shrinking the number of at-large teams is a solution only a conference that’s jealous of the SEC could love.  Sankey is better off with the status quo, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.

That’s not all, though.  There’s one other math problem with the eight-team format.

Passing on expansion to 12 would be eschewing millions. A 12-team playoff in 2024 and ’25 would bring in a combined $450 million in additional television revenue, sources tell Sports Illustrated. An eight-team expansion would not generate any additional revenue because it does not create more inventory[Emphasis added.]

Again, I ask:  these people can’t really be that stupid, can they?  One can only hope.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

27 responses to ““So, it’s four or 12.”

  1. This may be the only positive that comes out of SEC expansion (other than the TV money flowing to the SEC members).

    When the ACC and likely the Pac 12 get left out, I imagine the alliance formed by Kevin Warren’s hurt fee-fees will be on life support.

    Even though I’m an opponent of playoff expansion, this 12-team set-up is pretty well designed and balances the needs of all of the participants. Wake would likely be in if they win the ACC at 12-1. Oregon would also be in. Oklahoma wouldn’t have to worry about firebombing the rest of their schedule. Notre Dame is likely in as an at-large. Cincinnati doesn’t have to worry about the rankings just go win. The SEC and the Big 10 likely have multiple teams in.

    I really don’t get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bucketheridge

    The reaction to the 12 team expansion by the other power 5 conferences has been embarrassing even by college athletic director and administrator standards.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Terry McCullers

    Why is no one talking about an 8 team playoff?


    • Because the proposal by the “alliance” is a guaranteed bid to each of the Power 5 (still including the Big 12) and one for the highest ranked Group of 5. That means only 2 at-large spots. The SEC and Notre Dame both don’t like it (and I bet the Big 10’s coaches don’t like it).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Granthams Replacement

    Sounds like they should run for Congress, they’d all fit right in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Down Island Way

      Each of the committee members applied for any available open positions in Congress…all applications were forwarded to the cfp committee for future openings…


  5. MGW

    “A rising tide lifts all ships.”

    “Yeah but we don’t like that ship over there; let’s sink all the ships.”

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’m still trying to figure out how an 8 team playoff, adding 4 quarterfinal games, doesn’t add any inventory? Hell, even if there are byes, you gotta have at least 1 or 2 more games.


    • Because the quarterfinal games would be played at bowl sites. Therefore, to ESPN, there’s no additional inventory. At least, that’s what I think.


    • mddawg

      I was confused about that too. Adding 2 semifinal games must have added revenue compared to the BCS single-game format, so how does adding a couple of quarterfinal games not add revenue?


    • Gaskilldawg

      Currently all New Year’s Six bowls are part of the CFP inventory in the contract with ESPN. Only 2 of those games are semifinal games each year. By adding 1 round and making 4 of the 6 quarterfinals and the other 2 semifinals ESPN is still paying to televise the same NYS bowls and a final. Hence, no additional games for ESPN to televise under the contract.


    • David K

      From the linked article:
      “Inside the current CFP contract, ESPN doesn’t have to pay a dime more for an eight-team field because there would be the same amount of games there are now: seven. It’s just that, as of now, four of the seven games are called New Year’s Six bowls. In an eight-team bracket, all seven would be playoff games.”

      Currently there’s 6 NY games. 2 of which are playoffs. Then there’s the Championship game adding the 7th. With an 8 team playoff there’s 4 first round playoff bowl games, plus 2 semi-finals which would be the other 2 traditional NY bowl games, plus the Championship game. 7 total games either way. What I don’t get is that the audience for all 7 of those games in an 8 team playoff would be much better than the current format where 4 of the non playoff NY bowl games are pretty meaningless. Other than fans of the schools playing, how many people across the country were invested in the UGA Cincinnati Peach bowl last year with no implications? 4 of the NY6 bowls have lost a lot of the luster the years they aren’t playoff games.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    A 12-team playoff is idiotic. There are not 12 teams good enough that should make a playoff any year, let alone every year.

    At least in a 6+2, you get 6 conference champions, meaning that actually won SOMETHING before showing up to the playoff, and then two schools likely better than half the conference champions to preserve more competition.

    The 6+2 model also increases what fans and schools should actually care about, which is winning the conference, while a 12-team models all but destroys it.

    Sankey is 100% wrong here. I don’t want a playoff where the fourth-best SEC team gets in, and neither should fans of the sport.

    This is one where “The Alliance” is right even if their reasons are stupid and petty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Russ

      There really aren’t four teams that could win the NC, which has been shown by the repeated blow outs in the semis. But we’re stuck with the playoffs so might as well give everyone a party gift.

      Liked by 1 person

    • PTC DAWG

      You really think a 12 team playoff would have 4 SEC teams? Which 4 this year? Which 4 last year? That’s not happening.


    • People really love the idea of a plucky little Cinderella team defying all odds. It sells the NCAA tourney. It sells movie tickets. Hell, it’s the storyline some writers latched onto with the Braves (completely ignoring that the plucky Braves picked up BRUISING BULLIES to pull it off. ChopChop).

      Top 4 is “Rich get Richer” while Top 12 is “Everybody can be a champion!”

      While in practice, the former is most often true, people sure do love to believe the latter.


  8. godawgs1701

    Good. Let’s stay at 4 teams. The regular season has always mattered more in college football than in any other sport and a 12 team playoff eliminates any impact that a regular season loss has. I could go along with 8 teams but I wouldn’t be happy about it at all. Look, we’re about to be in a world where there’s only a Power 4 – the Big 12 isn’t going to be worthy of automatic qualifier status anyway. There are currently 6 teams I would consider realistically worthy of being national champion… maybe. There have never been 12 teams worthy of such in a given year. So stay mad, commissioners, and blow up this 12 team garbage. If the only way to end it is through y’all being dumbasses then so be it.

    Spoiler alert: It’s going to expand to 12 teams and most likely it’s going to happen soon. There’s a lot of money involved and there’s less money involved if you stay at 4.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. theotherdoug

    The PAC, ACC, and Big12 might love the revenue from a 12 team playoff, but they have to know their chances of winning a 12 team playoff are close to zero. Yeah, I know they will take the money,

    This year UGA and Bama would certainly get in and would most likely win their first game or get a bye. The Big10 would be in the same situation. Plus I could see the SEC and Big10 getting another team in the 12 team playoff. The 8 teams are going to be UGA, Bama, OSU, Sparty, and one other Big10/SEC team. Find me the outsider that can win 3 games from there?


    • rigger92

      I believe the idea behind 12 is that it opens up recruiting. Right now the top 100 kids nationally all set their sights on 4 or 5 programs because there’s only 4 or 5 that are in position to make a run at the playoff. It would take a few recruiting cycles but the PAC, big12, and ACC would theoretically have a better chance of building a program and attracting recruits just because they are now included.


  10. Tony BarnFart

    I personally am OK going to 12. What’s flirting with sick at this point is that this whole thing is in limbo 100% because of PERSONAL feelings. An expansion to 12 helps the Big12 and MORE IMPORTANTLY, Big12 football players. They are literally holding it up because they think the revenue gap with the SEC may grow even more with more playoff spots going to the SEC, which is (1) not a certainty even before (2) dissect why an increase in an already substantial gap is going to keep growing anyway, even if we stay at 4 in perpetuity. You’re not unringing the texas and ou bell Bob. That ship has sailed.

    Bob Bowlsby is literally angry that Greg Sankey has a better job with a bigger trough to feed from. It certainly ain’t about the kids (duhh), but hell it may not even be about the schools and his own league at this point. If I’m OSU or Texas Tech or even some of the new admitees, I’m screaming at him to quit putting his own butthurt over my interests. At the end of the day, if the top 6 conferences get an auto bid to a 12 team playoff, where they supposedly can win it all “on the field,” then revenue should greatly diminish in importance if you’re even HALFWAY “doing it for the kids.”

    Beyond that, Bob, I’m sorry we can’t craft legislation forcing kids to like Lubbock as much as Athens.


  11. whb209

    Money always wins
    It will increase from 4 teams and it will go to 12