A 12-team school soccer playoff may someday embody Kent State

So you’re saying there’s a chance …

Mid-American Conference football teams could soon say they have a chance of winning a national championship if the college football playoff field expands to 12, a move that has been rapidly gaining momentum in recent months and it’s almost certain to become official at some point in the relatively near future.

On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers approved a feasibility study to be conducted by conference commissioners over the next several months, the results of which will likely be presented at a September meeting attended by the same commissioners and university presidents.

According to the latest expansion proposal, which has been heavily considered and received widespread support, the 12-team playoff field would consist of the six top-ranked Conference Champions and six big teams. One of the large berths would be given to the highest champion of the group of five, which consists of the Mid-American Conference, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.

Kent State head coach Sean Lewis is an eternal optimist. Back in 2017, he spoke of playing in a bowl game on New Years Day, immediately after adopting a Golden Flashes program that had only enjoyed one winning season in the past 16 years. But not even Lewis had considered Kent State’s potential to play a national championship.

“I think it’s great,” said Lewis when asked about a possible extension of the playoffs. “I’m excited to see what the deeper conversations will bring, but I’m pleased that the GFP working group is exploring the possibility. I think as things expand, the regular season will become meaningful for more teams even longer. Especially for the state of Kent, this new model gives us the opportunity to really get into conversation while we continue to improve our program. “

If the proposed 12-team format had been introduced just nine years ago, the Flashes would have earned the opportunity to play for a chance on the college football playoff field.

The 2012 MAC Championship Game featured two nationally ranked teams, No. 17 Kent State and No. 21 Northern Illinois. Both squads were 11-1 after remaining undefeated in conference play. The Huskies fell 18:17 at home against Iowa in the season opener and then picked up 11 wins in a row. The Flashes lost their second competition of 2012 in Kentucky 47:14 (trailing 17:14 in the middle of the third quarter), then bounced back to win 10 in a row – including a 35:23 triumph at No. 15 Rutgers in late October that shocked the nation.

In arguably the most exciting title game in the history of the MAC, Kent State scored 21 points in the last 4:53 of the regulations to send the competition into overtime. After exchanging field goals in the first overtime, Northern Illinois scored a touchdown in the second extra session and won 44-37 in Detroit.

The Huskies moved up to 15th place in the BCS. Because they were ranked ahead of a champion from an automatic qualifying conference, they received a BCS Bowl bid – they fell to the state of Florida at 31:10 in the Orange Bowl.

Under the current proposal to expand the playoffs, Northern Illinois would have been a playoff team as the highest ranking champion of the Group of Five.

So yeah Kent State fans there is a chance.

Coastal Carolina would have qualified for the College Football Playoffs if the currently considered expansion to 12 teams had happened last season.

If the current playoff proposal had been in effect last year, two Group of Five teams would have qualified for the playoffs (Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina) because Pac-12 champion Oregon was in 25th place and therefore would not have received a bid ( not among the six top-ranked champions).

Thoughts of college football playoff games don’t keep Kent State freshman track and field director Riot Richmond awake at night, but he’s obviously intrigued by the possibilities playoff expansion could create.

“I know there are still a lot of details, but I commend the CFP Working Group for getting this far,” he said. “I think it has great potential to help all schools of the group of five.”

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