14-Team CFB Playoff an SEC and Big Ten power move or common sense?

The SEC and the Big Ten want a lot from a discussed 14-team CFB Playoff field. Does the Power Two deserve such special treatment?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The format for the 2026 CFB Playoff appears headed to a 14-team field with lots of automatic qualifiers. The most recent conversations are being driven by the SEC and the Big Ten. Given a new media deal will not be finalized until a format is determined, a decision could come within weeks.

When word first leaked that after two years at 12 teams, the field could grow to 16 or even 24 teams, most college football followers were surprised such bold action was being discussed with a short window for a decision. Within days it became known the most momentum was not to 16 or more but to 14 teams.

At 14 teams, it was reported the SEC and the Big Ten were lobbying to gain four automatic bids each. Quickly the argument from the Power 2 changed to six auto bids in total as long as the two conferences are guaranteed to have the two top seeds. The concession of four each to three each does not equal an every-season plan that would mean no team outside the SEC or the Big Ten could be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

Commenting for CBS Sports, Dennis Dodd wrote,

"... surely, some will question that teams should need to earn those top two spots by more than their conference affiliation."

Dennis Dodd

Others have expressed strong negative responses to the SEC and the Big Ten for trying to dictate to the rest of the college football world. Even if it is one of college football's boldest moves ever, at the same time the demand has more than a small degree of logic. Given that big-time college football is primarily driven by money, the product line's two dominant brands can claim a right to special consideration.

Even Dennis Dodd, who questioned such a change being good for college football, acknowledged the clout of the Power 2.

"... a hard truth must be acknowledged: The Big Ten and SEC really do run things. They really do deserve at least some dispensation. "

Yahoo's Ross Dellenger also commented on the proposalm writing,

"Such a concept — guaranteed byes for the Big Ten and SEC — is an unusual but somewhat expected maneuver from college football’s goliaths."

Ross Dellenger

One selling point for more automatic bids is that they would increase the value of regular season games. Would they also lessen the value of SEC and Big Ten championship games?

While resolution may come quickly, much work remains to develop a consensus.

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