As the first full weekend of college football in the 2022 season was upon us, a report from ESPN says College Football Playoff expansion is officially on the way. We just don’t know exactly when just yet.
Pete Thamel of ESPN reported on Friday the College Football Playoff board of managers voted unanimously to expand the playoff field from four teams to 12. The new 12-team format will roll out no later than the 2026 season but could be implemented as early as 2024. The 12-team proposal that was unveiled last summer is the model that will be used moving forward.
As a refresher, the 12-team playoff model will include six automatic bids for the six highest-ranked conference champions, regardless of conference. The remaining six spots will be reserved for at-large bids. The top four seeds in the playoff will be reserved for the four highest-ranked conference champions and will receive a first-round bye. The remaining eight teams will meet in first-round matchups on campus sites, or potentially in a nearby dome stadium if desired and feasible.
The 12-team format makes every game in the college football regular season even more meaningful, and it adds immediate value to every conference championship game from coast to coast. With six automatic spots on the line, every conference championship game now has increased importance.
If this 12-team format was in play for the 2021 season, the College Football Playoff field would have looked like this;
Next two automatic qualifiers (next two highest-ranked conference champions): Utah (5), Pitt (6)
Utah (5) hosting Michigan State (12)
Pitt (6) hosting Oklahoma State (11)
Georgia (7) hosting Ole Miss (10)
Notre Dame (8) hosting Ohio State (9)
Worried about the SEC and Big Ten dominating the playoff field? Each conference would have had three teams in the playoff under this format in 2021, but the champions of the ACC (Pitt) and PAC-12 (Utah) would have had home games, two SEC teams would have squared off against each other, and we would have had Ohio State visiting South Bend to play Notre Dame. The playoff field would have included members of the ACC, American Athletic Conference, Big 12, Big Ten, PAC-12, and SEC as well as Notre Dame.
More details and plans on the next step for the playoff expansion will be discussed on Thursday, September September 8 at the next committee meeting in Irving, Texas.
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