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How The New 12-Team CFP Proposal Impacts Pac-12, Utah Football

This is the Pac12 logo in Rice Eccles Stadium before the Utah Utes and Brigham Young Cougars college football game on September 10, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The College Football Playoff (CFP) will likely be expanding from four teams to 12 which impacts the Pac-12 and Utah football.

With the Pac-12 being a member of a Power-5 league, this will have a significant impact for Utah football to have an easier path of making the CFP.

It’s not a done deal yet but the Playoff Working Group submitted a proposal for a 12-team College Football Playoffs.

12-Team Playoff Proposal

The College Football Playoff released the detailed proposal on Thursday afternoon.

“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the members of the four-person working group said in a statement. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”

In that proposal is a bracket that will include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the six highest-ranked other teams which is determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee. No conference would automatically qualify for the CFP, which means it’s all based on the rankings that come out each year. Also, there isn’t a limit on number of participants from a conference.

The four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded one through four and each team will receive a first round bye. Teams seeded five through 12 would play each other in the first round with the higher ranked team receiving home field advantage.

No. 5 will face No. 12, No. 6 will battle No. 11, No. 7 will take on No. 10, while No. 8 will face No. 9. The proposal states that the quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games. The Championship game will be at a neutral site under the current format.

Other elements include the first round games taking place on campus sometime around two weeks following the conference championship games. Quarterfinals would be played on January 1 or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday and on an adjacent day. The semifinals and championship game dates are to be determined; semifinals likely will not be played as a doubleheader.

The Playoff bracket would follow the rankings and will not be modified in order to avoid regular season rematches or teams from the same conference. Also, the CFP bracket would remain the same throughout the entire process with no re-seeding.

The CFP Working Group did not include which bowl games would be a part of the CFP in the future.

What The Proposal Means For Pac-12, Utah Football

The new expanded playoff is big for the Pac-12 as the conference has only been represented in the CFP twice when Oregon was No. 2 in the inaugural playoff in 2014 and Washington at No. 4 in 2016. If you go back and look at the top 12 rankings from the since the CFP era began, the Pac-12 has been well represented.

  • 2014: Oregon, No. 2
  • 2014: Arizona, No. 10
  • 2015: Stanford, No. 6
  • 2016: Washington, No. 4
  • 2016: USC, No. 9
  • 2016: Colorado, No. 10
  • 2017: USC, No. 8
  • 2017: Washington, No. 11
  • 2018: Washington, No. 9
  • 2019: Oregon, No. 6
  • 2019: Utah, No. 11

If you look at the teams that cracked the top 25 in the final CFP rankings, the list of Pac-12 teams gets bigger.

  • 2014: UCLA, No. 14
  • 2014: Arizona State, No. 15
  • 2014: Utah, No. 22
  • 2014: USC, No. 24
  • 2015: Oregon, No. 15
  • 2015: Utah, No. 22
  • 2015: USC, No. 25
  • 2016: Stanford, No. 18
  • 2016: Utah, No. 19
  • 2017: Stanford, No. 13
  • 2017: Washington, No. 18
  • 2018: Washington State, No. 13
  • 2018: Utah, No. 17
  • 2019: USC, No. 22
  • 2020: USC, No. 17
  • 2020: Oregon, No. 25

Hopefully new commissioner George Kliavkoff will look at the nine-conference game schedule and will reduce it to eight Pac-12 games. That will allow more opportunities for the Pac-12 to reach the CFP because they won’t be beating up on each other for nine games per year. If that isn’t a possibility, all the conferences need to be on the same page.

According to reports, the expanded playoff will begin at the end of the 2023 regular season. With the amount of young talent Utah currently has on their roster, this could be a playoff team.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter:ย @TrevorASports.ย You can download and listen to the podcast,ย here.