Fans clamouring for more parity and opportunity in college football are finally getting their way, it appears, as the College Football Playoffs (CFP) will soon expand from four to twelve teams.
According to multiple outlets, the College Football Board of Managers voted Friday for an expansion of the CFP to a 12 team format, with a bye-week for the top four ranked teams.
The highest level of college gridiron, referred to as Division I or the FBS, has had a four team playoff since 2014. But even with 131 teams (in the 2022 season) vying for just four spots, many fans found the results too predictable: always Alabama plus three other blue bloods. Now, long suffering alumni all over the nation are dreaming that their team could have a realistic shot at lifting the championship trophy in a not-too-distant February.
Source tells @TheAthletic that the College Football Playoff Board of Managers has approved a 12-team CFP by unanimous vote.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) September 2, 2022
The change is huge, particularly because for decades, the FBS has been further divided between schools that belong to five “Power” Conferences, whose football teams can have legitimate CFP aspirations, and those that belong to the other “Group of Five” Conferences, whose best teams can go undefeated and still miss out on the playoffs. The 12-team playoff structure is reported to be composed of the six highest ranking conference champions plus the next six highest-ranked teams, regardless of conference affiliation, making “all 10 FBS conferences technically equal,” observed Chris Vannini of The Athletic.
“The 12-team playoff format basically eliminates ‘Group of 5’ as a term and makes all 10 FBS conferences technically equal.” — @ChrisVannini
Welcome to the new era of the College Football Playoff.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 2, 2022
If that’s not enough, there appears to be momentum to begin the new 12-team format in the 2024 season, reports CBS Sports, which would be sooner than initial signals suggested. When CFP organizers first began formulating the 12 team concept back in 2021, the traditional power schools and conferences quickly enacted realignments (e.g., Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC) to delay, and possibly block, just such an eventuality. (RELATED:UCLA Would Have Cut Sports If The Bruins Stayed In The PAC-12, Money From The Big Ten Will Save The Program)
If the CFP Board of Managers wants an expanded playoff by 2024, they will have to deal with their current contract with ESPN that runs through the end of the 2025 college football season. ESPN may be amenable to a change because it could have rights to air any of the additional games through 2025 if there is early implementation, as reported by CBS Sports.