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At most, two months from now the College Football Playoff expansion discussions will all be behind us. For now, though, the conversation rages on.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported that The Alliance of the ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten had proposed an alternative 12-team playoff last week to the CFP Management Committee. While the alternative proposal was almost identical to the 12-team playoff format that the subcommittee had proposed earlier this year, there were some minor differences that could have a big impact on who would be in and who would be out on a yearly basis.

The original proposal by the subcommittee would include the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large bids. The alternative proposal by The Alliance, however, suggested that the six at-large bids remain, but that the six conference champions be composed of the Power 5 champions plus the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion.

Now, we all know why this proposal was sent out to the CFP Management Committee. It's a primary reason for why The Alliance was formed in the first place: the three conference commissioners are concerned about having representation in the CFP.

In a typical year, the alternative proposal would likely not have much of an affect on the CFP landscape. In general, Power 5 conference champions are ranked higher and would likely all receive automatic bids to the playoff anyways. However, the past couple of years have shown that this wouldn't always be the case.

In the COVID season of 2020, Pac-12 champion Oregon would have failed to receive an automatic bid. If last season had been a 12-team format composed like the original proposal was structured, Oregon would have been surpassed by two Group of 5 champions in Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina.

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This season, Cincinnati once again would be granted an automatic bid assuming that it wins the AAC title. The Bearcats are currently ranked fifth in the CFP Selection Committee Rankings while the highest-ranked ACC team is Wake Forest at No. 12.

With the gap between some Group of 5 teams and Power 5 teams seemingly narrowing over the last couple of seasons, The Alliance appears concerned that a possibility of being nudged out of receiving an automatic bid would remain present. While the Pac-12 might even make the four-team playoff this year with its 8-1 Oregon team, the ACC is not so fortunate. Perennial powerhouse Clemson has had a difficult season and is not currently ranked in any of the three major Power 5 polls.

The alternative proposal has obviously had some pushback from Group of 5 conference commissioners, according to Dellenger. Back in June when then-PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott suggested that the Power 5 schools all receive automatic bids, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco let his feeling be known.

“That would be an enormous step in the wrong direction,” Aresco said.

The commissioners now have roughly two months to decide between three alternatives: The first option would be to keep the four-team format through 2025. Second, it could approve the subcommittee's original 12-team format. Or third, the alternative proposal could be approved. If a decision has not been reached over the next two months, then expansion would have to be delayed until at least 2026.

Regardless of the outcome, the teams of the Southeastern Conference will benefit from the format. The SEC has already succeeded with the four-team format, and the conference will only have more more teams represented with either 12-team format.

However, it's important to not block out the Group of 5. They might not possess as many juggernaut programs as the Power 5, but they deserve to have some form of equal footing and opportunity at representation. The 5+1 alternative model certainly has the potential to limit that opportunity. The Power 5 will, more often than not, maintain more representation year-in and year-out, but the possibility that Group of 5 times could have multiple teams in the playoff should always remain.

At most, two months from now the College Football Playoff expansion discussions will all be behind us. For now, though, the conversation rages on.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported that The Alliance of the ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten had proposed an alternative 12-team playoff last week to the CFP Management Committee. While the alternative proposal was almost identical to the 12-team playoff format that the subcommittee had proposed earlier this year, there were some minor differences that could have a big impact on who would be in and who would be out on a yearly basis.

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