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Expansion of a football college – historical simulations of 12 teams, storylines and more



To see how a new development can affect the future, look at how it would affect the past. This is my decision – see: how the bigger playoffs would work in 2020 or how a much earlier playoff would affect things – and with the news that we can soon move to a playoff with 12 teams, we have reason to dive once more in this well.

For all the simulations I’ve done, I’ve never paid much attention to a 12-team format. Eight teams – six conference champions with two big offers – have long seemed completely inclusive and interesting to me. This was the logical next step. But as it turns out, the 12-man team works quite well in terms of political calibration.

A playoff with 1

2 teams really offers a path to the playoffs to what we have long called group 5 conferences, ensuring that the competition for the national title at the football college is actually including almost for the first time. But it also ensures that the most powerful conferences and teams benefit en masse from additional large offerings. And the news that the quarterfinal games will be held in cup games (probably the four New Year’s six cups that do not host the semifinals in a given year) instead of home fields allows the most influential cups to remain relevant. We lose the atmosphere at home, but Rose Bowl does not end up with the fourth best team in the Big Ten against the third in Pac-12.

To best learn what a team of 12 is changing, let’s jump into the simulation machine.

Below is how each of the last seven playoffs in college would be formed with 12 teams instead of four. I used the ranking of the play-off committee as it existed – there is an obvious possibility that the committee looks at the teams differently with 12 teams instead of four, but we will not know what the changes are for a while. I also worked on the aforementioned assumption that the quarterfinals will be held in four New Year’s six cups, with the semifinals being held in the same cups that hosted the semifinals with four teams. I simulated each playoff using my SP + ranking, and included each team’s chances of reaching the semifinals below, as well as the most likely champions each season. (Why semi-final odds? Because I want to see what can change compared to the four-team playoffs we actually got.)


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