There are still a lot of people that don't want the playoff expanded at all, so if they were actually willing to compromise, I doubt they would ever be okay with expanding from 4 to 16. They would want the bare minimum of 8. A field of 8 is better than a field of 4 but, in my opinion, the same criticisms of 4 will still be present at 8.
The way I view it is that a field of 8 will still be criticized for not being inclusive enough to the entirety of FBS. The best way to frame the proposal for 11 is that it is, in fact, also an 8-team model. The only difference is that it ensures that the final field of 8 are the 8 teams that truly deserved their playoff spot. And those extra few slots 9, 10, and 11 make UCF-type selections possible. That is right around where those types finish when they run the table.
Good point. 12 does function the same as 11 aside from number of Byes. The main reason I chose 11 is because the two primary numbers of focus are Top 5 and Top 10, which are very easy for people to latch on to. You're right, though.
I do think that the only way a field larger than 8 would get approved is if Byes are involved because those top schools are going to be asking why they have to play an extra game when they excelled at a higher level than everyone else. They will want to be rewarded, and college football needs their dynasty schools to be happy.
I don't know if there should be an auto-bid for a conference title. It would certainly be valuable on a résumé to lock in your spot or potentially get a Bye, but you wouldn't want to see a flukey conference champ from a weak division of a conference steal a spot when their body of work doesn't make the cut aside from the title. Ultimately, you just want the 11 best teams. That will almost always include at least 1 team from every P5 school, unless the Pac12 keeps embarrassing themselves lol but hypothetically, if it ended up being 1 Pac12, 1 ACC, 2 Big12, 3 Big10, 4 SEC, then I guess that's just how it will be sometimes. But if those 11 teams are the best 11, then that's a good thing. The SEC won't always have that many every time.
For this season, the playoff semifinals are on Dec. 28th and the title game is January 13th. If you bump the semifinals forward a week and played the quarterfinals on Dec. 27-28th instead, that would mean that the play-in games would be around Dec. 20-21st. That is after finals are over. Also, don't the playoff schools make a boatload of money for being in the playoff? Also, I don't think any college football playoff game will be played with an "empty crowd". It's not like it's some Preparation H Bowl played in a Walmart parking lot in the middle of nowhere. If UCF made the field of 8, it would mean they are undefeated, already pulled a play-in upset, and are riding a huge hype train, so I'm sure people would want to see it. Also, it IS more games, but it's still less games than they'll have to play in an NFL season. Some stars may hold themselves out, but I bet the majority of players would be lined up in droves ready for an opportunity to show what they can do in a playoff.