Analysis: What if 12-team College Football Playoff was here?

Dec 5, 2021, 10:21 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2021, 6:41 am

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) is tackled by Houston's Gervarrius Owens during the secon...

Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) is tackled by Houston's Gervarrius Owens during the second half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

              Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young celebrate the teams win after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
              Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) is tackled by Houston's Gervarrius Owens during the second half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
              Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) rushes up field during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

IRVING, Texas (AP) — A fun thing to do this season has to been ponder how the College Football Playoff race would have played out if expansion to 12 teams had already happened.

The CFP selection committee set the four-team field on Sunday, matching top-seeded Alabama against No. 4 Cincinnati in one semifinal and second-seeded Michigan against No. 3 Georgia in the other.

The committee ranks 25 teams to help fill out the lineup for some of the other marquee bowl games, too.

In the 12-team playoff model proposed earlier this year — and still being debated by the conference commissioners who manage the CFP — a selection committee would still have a role, but it would be less impactful because it would place more emphasis on winning a conference.

Which conferences are emphasized — if any — is one of biggest unresolved issues.

The original 12-team proposal included spots for the six highest-ranked conference champions and the next six highest-ranked teams, regardless of conference.

In the the last few weeks, the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference commissioners have pushed for a tweak that would guarantee automatic bids only to the Power Five conference champions and the highest-ranked champion from the other five conferences in the Bowl Subdivision.

That suggestion has not been well received by most of the other commissioners, especially those outside the Power Five who have been trying to get rid of that distinction.

“I think, to have credibility, I think there has to be a foundation of fairness, meaning you don’t give selected groups, divisions, conferences, in this case, preferred status. There isn’t any playoff that you can point to does that,” American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said Sunday.

American Athletic champion Cincinnati made history Sunday, becoming the first team from outside the Power Five to reach the four-team playoff in its eight-year history.

But it should be noted that if a 12-team playoff format was used this season, the teams and seeds would have been no different if the so-called six-and-six model was used or the five-plus-one model.

The strange part about how this has become a sticking point in expansion talks is that using past final CFP rankings as an example, only last season would the best six conference champions not have included each Power Five winner.

Last season, both Cincinnati from the AAC and Coastal Carolina from the Sun Belt finished ahead of Pac-12 champion Oregon. But the Ducks played an abbreviated Pac-12 schedule because of the pandemic. There is little reason to believe that wasn’t an anomaly.

In the committee’s final rankings released Sunday, the second-highest ranked Group of Five conference champion was Louisiana-Lafayette of the Sun Belt at No. 23. The lowest-ranked Power five champion was Pittsburgh of the ACC at No. 12.

In fact, the losers of each Power Five conference championship game were all ranked ahead of Louisiana-Lafayette.

There could be a compromise between six-and-six and five-plus-one where if a second Group of Five conference champion finishes head of a Power Five champ, the G5 team is guaranteed a spot and one of the at-large spots is taken away. But that might not go over well with everybody, either.

Anyway, what would the playoff have looked like this season if the proposed 12-team format — in which the top four conference champions get first-round byes and those four first-round games are played on campus — was used?

Here goes, though we made one small tweak to the format (teams from the same conference should not play in the first round if it can be avoided with a small shift in seeds):

First round

No. 12 Pittsburgh at No. 5 Georgia

No. 11 Michigan State at No. 6 Notre Dame

No. 10 Utah at No. 7 Ohio State

No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Mississippi

Second round

Pitt-Georgia winner vs. Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl

Michigan State-Notre Dame winner vs. Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl

Utah-Ohio State winner vs. Michigan in the Rose Bowl

Oklahoma State-Ole Miss winner vs. Alabama in the Sugar Bowl


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Analysis: What if 12-team College Football Playoff was here?