As expected the CFB Playoff Board of Managers approved a 12-team expansion on Friday. The plan gained a unanimous vote. The 11 Board of Managers represent the 10 FBS college football conferences and Notre Dame.
For now, the beginning of the new format is scheduled for the 2026 season, but sources state there is intent to implement the change as soon as the 2024 season.
Hard, more detailed work remains and is to be conducted by the CFB Playoff Management Committee, made up of conference commissioners, plus Notre Dame AD, Jack Swarbrick. The committee will meet to begin the task next week.
Putting an expanded format in place for the 2024 season hinges on another necessary unanimous vote to define how the 12 teams would be selected.
The media rights deal will have to be renegotiated for growth to 11 Playoff games as soon as the 2024 season. ESPN has the rights through 2025 and some adjustment would have to be made, for a product now valued at $600M annually, which would increase to an estimated $1.2M annually.
The most discussed format is the 12-team one that was rejected nine months ago. It gave the six highest ranked conference champions automatic bids, plus six at-large bids. The top four seeds would have first-round byes.
Less certain is an expanded role for bowl games and whether first-round games will be held on the highest ranked teams’ home fields.
The long-held sentiments of most college football fans have been support and excitement about an expanded Playoff field. Whether it will be ‘more fair’ or will not lead to more diverse champions concerns some fans.
College Football Playoff Concerns
Some college football experts question if a disproportionate number of the 11 games required would be blowouts. A close look at CFB Playoff history provides an argument that every season, there are less than 12 legitimate National Championship contenders. The number is often less than six.
Putting aside that 12 teams might lead to many blowouts, there are other reasons why 12 is a good idea. Nick Saban recently said he supports a 12-team format.
"I was never a guy that was for expanding the playoff in years past … being an old traditionalist, I thought bowl games were one of the most significant, enjoyable things for lots of college players, lots of college fans …… now that we have playoffs, nobody talks about anything except the playoffs. So we have a 4-team playoff – nobody gives a hoot about any bowl games anywhere…I’m actually for expanding the playoffs…If we had 12 teams gonna get in the playoffs, you’d have 50 teams that they’d be talking about who have a chance to get in the playoff."
As usual Nick Saban is right.
A best guess is the new format will be determined for the 2024 season, and with so much money being on the table, it will gain unanimous approval.