By Ken Reed

When it comes to college football at the highest level, the move from a four-team playoff to a 12-team playoff has always been a no-brainer.

A 12-team playoff makes the regular season more interesting for a lot of teams — and their fans. It also makes the championship playoff more exciting; the current four-team playoff has become boring. A 12-team playoff will also generate a lot more money for each conference, including the smaller ones that need it most.

The League of Fans has long called for a 16-team playoff (see here and here). But we’ll take the 12-team proposal recently announced by a College Football Playoff subcommittee.

With the 12-team proposal, the subcommittee has basically admitted the four-team playoff was a bad idea. I think the primary reason they did it originally was to try to retain some legitimacy for all the silly bowl games. Well, the stands at most bowl games these days are 80% empty. The old bowl concept is basically dead. However, twelve teams, with multiple games on New Year’s Day, would allow college football to own New Year’s Day again.

Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have taken 11 of the 14 title game spots the last seven years under the current format. There was never any kind of equal opportunity or parity with a 4-team playoff. The same conferences and teams dominated. Smaller (Group of Five) conferences (and the Pac-12 which has struggled getting a representative in the four-team playoff) still face an uphill battle, but a 12-team playoff at least gives every FBS team a shot.

Everyone that starts a season — in any sport — deserves an opportunity to win the championship, even if the odds are long. The four-team playoff model didn’t give every conference and every team a chance. Ethically, it was unsustainable.

With the proposed 12-team playoff, the odds are still stacked against smaller conferences. But like the NCAA’s highly-successful March Madness basketball tourney, with a 12-team playoff, all FBS teams will now at least have a chance.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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