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The College Football Playoff revealed Thursday it is exploring expansion from four to 12 teams and laid out the details of the proposal, which was generated by a sub-group of its management committee that included Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

The reaction came in instantly and has continued in the days since. Some of it centered on the specific provision pertaining to Notre Dame: The Irish would not qualify for one of the four byes in the potential 12-team because of their independence and could earn no higher than the No. 5 seed. Those byes would go to the four highest-ranked conference champions.

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Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick (right) helped design the proposed 12-team playoff format.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick (right) helped design the proposed 12-team playoff format. (BGI/Bill Panzica)

A format with six at-large bids, though, is a victory for Notre Dame.

There’s a lot to unpack. Here is a sampling of the Notre Dame-centered reaction to the proposed 12-team model.

Paul Finebaum, ESPN (On Get Up)

“I don’t think I’ve ever made the following statement ‘this is not fair for Notre Dame.’ If you go back in the history of college sports, Notre Dame has literally stolen championships because they are Notre Dame

“I think and it’s time Jack Swarbrick and those who run Notre Dame need to get with the program. The ‘program’ is that they need to join a conference.

“Last year, they had a one-off. They joined the ACC on a one-year basis…I think it’s better for Notre Dame to be in a conference because there are too many obstacles. Playing at home [in the playoff] is great, but there is still a lot of risk involved. In two years, think about this, Notre Dame plays Clemson and Ohio State. They can be undefeated having beaten two of the top four teams in the country, and they still have to play [in the first round]. That’s ridiculous.”

Ralph D. Russo, AP

In an expansion Q&A: “The Irish have not won a national title since 1988. To end that drought in a 12-team format it will have to win four playoff games. But with six at-large spots available, getting into the playoff shouldn’t be too tough for the Irish.”

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Pete Thamel, Yahoo! Sports

Jason Kersey, The Athletic

In a Q&A: “I feel like it virtually guarantees Notre Dame a spot in the Playoff most years as long as it doesn’t lose more than two regular-season games. Sure, it’s a tad unfair…the Irish can’t have a first-round bye. But I feel like that is at least partially made up by advantages Notre Dame’s situation affords it.

Patrick Engel,

“The lack of an opportunity to earn a bye is not ideal. It’s a loss and a negative consequence of being independent. It’s also a small trade-off for getting the playoff system that’s friendliest to Notre Dame’s independence.”

Read the entire column here.

Jack Swarbrick

“I look forward to never hearing again about how we played one less game or don’t have a conference championship.

“From my perspective, it was an appropriate trade-off to get a model that I thought was the right one for college football. Even though we don’t play in a conference, I recognize the importance of strong conferences and providing opportunity to the [Group of Five]. We wanted to do that.

“I do think it’s helpful to us to be able to say, look, Alabama put its position at risk in its title game, or Oklahoma put its position at risk in its conference title game. We’re doing the same thing in the first round. We are on par in that regard, other than not enjoying a potential No. 1 through 4 seed.”


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