College Football Playoff says it's looked at 63 — yes, 63 — ways to expand from its 4-team format

·3 min read

How many ways can you expand a four-team playoff? There are apparently over 60.

The College Football Playoff said Friday that it had discussed 63 different ways to expand the four-team playoff at its spring meeting. The four-team playoff has been around since 2014. 

"In its analysis, the working group has reviewed some 63 possibilities for change," a statement from the playoff said. "These included 6, 8, 10, 12 and 16-team options, each with a variety of different scenarios."  

"The group informed the management committee that it continues its work and anticipates making a report to the management committee about the future format at an upcoming meeting."

All of this reviewing doesn't mean the playoff is expanding anytime soon, however. The playoff made sure to say in its statement that it was committed to a four-team format for the near future. The College Football Playoff is currently entering its eighth season of the 12-year deal it signed with ESPN to replace the BCS. 

“I want to remind everyone that whatever recommendations the management committee may make, all decisions about our future format—whether to remain at four teams or change to a different format—will be made by the 11 presidents and chancellors who manage the CFP," CFP spokesperson Bill Hancock said in a statement.

The College Football Playoff logo is shown on the field at AT&T Stadium before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game between Notre Dame and Alabama in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
2021 will be the eighth season with a College Football Playoff. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Expansion a matter of inevitability?

It sure seems like its only a matter of time before the Playoff expands to include more teams. Especially as the same teams keep occupying the four spots year after year. The seven previous years of the playoff have included 28 spots. Twenty of those have gone to Alabama (6), Clemson (6), Ohio State (4) and Oklahoma (4). 

An eight-team playoff seems the most logical way to expand. It could simply include the top eight teams in the College Football Playoff rankings, the five Power Five conference champions, the top non-Power Five team and two wildcards or another combination of eight teams. We're guessing that there were at least a handful of eight-team options discussed among the 63 options that were reviewed by the committee. 

Any playoff expansion will also include an increase in revenue for the playoff. More teams equals more games and more money for schools. Remember, that's likely going to be the main reason why the playoff expands. 

CFP planning for a 'more typical' season

Attendance was limited at CFP games in January because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Rose Bowl was played in Arlington, Texas, instead of Pasadena. It was the first time since World War II that the game had been moved from California. 

This year, the playoff is expecting to have a much more normal existence. 

“We are planning to have marching bands, cheerleaders, mascots and the rest of the wonderful traditions at the CFP games," Hancock said. "We are optimistic, but, of course, everything will depend on the circumstances this fall.”

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