June 14, 2021

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Proposed College Football Playoff expansion gives NCAA a dozen reasons to cut regular season by a game

3 min read

In pursuit of still another College Football Playoff championship, Alabama will play such demanding opponents as Florida, Texas A&M and LSU. The Tide also will play Mercer, which finished its previous season fifth in the Southern Conference.

Georgia will face Charleston Southern, which lost its most recent game against an SEC opponent by 62 points. Oklahoma is set for a game against the Western Carolina Catamounts, who wound up six games under .500 in 2019. That’s how it often goes in college football’s 12th game, which is about as essential to the sport as the “flying wedge” formation.

Yes, that’s right: It should be outlawed.

MORE: How the newly proposed 12-team College Football Playoff would work

It was all the way back in 2005 that the NCAA board of directors executed one of the most egregious money grabs in college sports history, which we all know is saying quite a lot. There was no good reason to approve expanding the college football regular season to 12 games other than getting an extra home gate for the power programs.

And there’s even less reason now to let it stand if the sport’s leaders are serious about expanding the playoff structure to include 12 teams and, potentially, four games for participating teams.

The late Myles Brand was a fine man and an effective leader for the NCAA during his presidency, but it’s hard to believe he managed not to laugh when he defended the schedule expansion by declaring, “The season will not be elongated; it just means the bye week would be taken out.”

There were also comedic discussions in newspaper reports about the schedule growth that suggested there might be more high-level non-conference games as a result, perhaps even between geographic rivals. Pitt and Penn State have played four times in the 15 seasons since.

No, this always was entirely about money. It’s not a small amount, and each FBS school participated in that revenue growth in its own way, whether by playing an extra home game if it owned that scheduling power or going on the road for a guaranteed payout.

MORE: How a 12-team CFP would’ve worked in 2020

The proposed expansion of the playoff to 12 teams triples the number of teams involved and more than triples the inventory of championship tournament games. The champions of the six highest-rated conferences will earn an automatic bid, which means at least one team from outside the “Autonomy Five” conferences will be represented.

This means there will be a dramatically expanded revenue pool from the postseason, in terms of television revenue and gate receipts. And the assurance in this system that all conferences will, in a sense, have a representative, means that all conferences, in a sense, will share in that abundance.

There has been a great deal of public reaction about the impertinence of stretching the season for teams that enter a 12-team CFP to as many as 16 or 17 games, which would be the number if a team makes the final with or without a bye. And, on the face of it, those who’ve spoken out against that concept are correct.

Their concerns can be resolved simply, though, and painlessly, with a one-page piece of NCAA legislation that could be rubber-stamped by the board of directors.

The 12th game has got to go.

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