The College Football Playoff has held its current format since the 2014 season. Since then, the landscape of college football has changed so much, with conference realignment news seemingly dropping every week.
The College Football Playoff might follow suit. The CFP presidents will be meeting Friday to discuss a potential expansion to the playoff. If they vote unanimously in favor of expansion, the playoff could have 12 teams in it as early as 2024.
Should the vote not be unanimous, it would have to wait until 2026. The contract between the CFP and ESPN expires after the 2025 playoff. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, the most popular option remains the 12-team playoff that was proposed last Spring.
While an expanded playoff would be good for college football, putting in 12 teams is overkill.
I believe that six teams would be the sweet spot for an expanded playoff. I would be ok with an eight-team playoff, but six just feels right. If, for whatever reason, six teams aren’t enough, adding more teams is always an option. However, subtracting teams from the playoff doesn’t seem like an option. There’s no going back after introducing a 12-team playoff.
Here’s what the first round of a six-team playoff would have looked like for last season:
No. 1 Alabama: Bye
No. 2 Michigan: Bye
No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
This would have been a lot of fun. Adding in those No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 games could add one more week of great football to the college football season. Adding those spots to the playoff could also lead to more athletic departments deciding to go all-in on their football programs, leading to more competitive teams. However, there simply isn’t enough blue-chip talent to go around for a competitive 12-team playoff.
College football is a very top-heavy sport. It always has been, and it always will be. There isn’t going to be a playoff where there’s one cinderella team every season. It will be a heavily one-sided affair in favor of the higher seeds.
A benefit of the proposed 12-team format is that fans would get to see more nonconference Power Five matchups between big programs. Seeing Florida play Wisconsin or Wake Forest play Oregon would be fun. I’m for that.
A lot of this is up in the air and we don’t know exactly what an expanded playoff would look like for 2024 if the vote even goes through unanimously. I’m hopeful that the new college football playoff, whatever form it ends up taking, takes the sport to a new level.
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