College Football Playoff expansion talk swirling, Georgia would benefit from 12-team model

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ATLANTA, GA - December 6: The National Championship trophy is displayed prior to the College Football Playoff Semifinal Head Coaches News Conference on December 6, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

ATHENS — College Football Playoff expansion speculation continues to swirl this offseason with a subcommittee scheduled to make a presentation to the group of FBS commissioners on the CFP management committee, per multiple reports

CFP executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN it’s “the regularly scheduled June meeting of the management committee.”

The takeaway, however, is that new plans to expand the current four-team format continue to be discussed and draw public favor.

The college football playoff issue discussion arose earlier this season in April, at which point Hancock reminded everyone that the current format is only in the eighth year of a 12-year agreement, and that “there will not be a new format this season or next season.”

Still, it’s notable who has been on the smaller working group:

• SEC commissioner Greg Sankey

• Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby

• Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick

• Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson

Along with looking at the possible expansion of the playoffs, the subcommittee is also studying “whether or not the selection committee was doing what we wanted it to do and was better than the predecessor’s process (the BCS) for selecting teams,” Bowlsby told ESPN.

According to a Yahoo Sports report citing university officials, athletic directors and media executives, a 12-team playoff model appears to be the favored model over an eight-team model.

Georgia football has been scheduling with playoff expansion in mind for at least two years,

“The feeling we have is that tougher schedules create opportunities to excel in the metrics used by the College Football Playoff,” former UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said in April 2019, after the Bulldogs announced plans to add a home-and-home series with Florida State in 2027-2028.

“That’s with what’s in place now, and what could be in place in the future.”

A 12-team playoff would certainly present a more favorable likelihood of three teams from the SEC getting into the College Football Playoff.

Of course, it would also strike another blow toward non-College Football Playoff bowl games, as players have shown a recent trend of opting out even before COVID-19.

Georgia has had at least one team captain opt-out of each of the past three bowl games.

Former coach Mark Richt suggested earlier this offseason that a 32-team playoff should be explored because of the growing leverage players wield in college football.

RELATED: Mark Richt believes ‘seismic shift’ could soon be coming to college football

“The bowl system as we know it seems to be struggling, and I think the struggles will get worse as far players not showing up and maybe even teams not showing up,” said Richt, a former two-time SEC Coach of the Year at Georgia and ACC Coach of the Year at Miami.

“A lot of the bowl cancellations last year was Covid related, but truth be told, there’s a lot of kids asking ‘why are we doing this?’ And they are getting a bigger voice. What happens when they call a team vote, and say, ‘Coach we don’t want to play in this game.’ "

Georgia’s past three teams played in New Year’s Six Bowl games, facing Texas and Baylor in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans following the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and Cincinnati last January in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

All three of those Bulldogs’ teams would have likely been part of a 12-team playoff.

While Georgia has been affected by injuries each of the past three seasons, most notably at the receiver position in 2019, and at quarterback last season, Kirby Smart’s recruiting has enabled the program to build more quality depth than most all other programs.

For now, it’s a four-team playoff, and there’s plenty of optimism about 2021.

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