There is much to like in the expanded CFB Playoff format that begins next season. SEC and Big Ten teams will likely and justifiably take up at least half of the slots. Alabama Football should either get a bye from another SEC Championship or host an opening round game in Bryant-Denny.
An expanded field has been demanded for years and it appears most college football fans think a 12-team format is better than eight. Even with all the positive momentum, enthusiasm will go down when debate begins over what 12 teams 'deserve' to make the Playoff field. No number, not 16 or 24 or 32 could ever squelch debate.
What we already know is the 12 'best' teams will not be in the expanded format. Choosing the 'best' teams was originally the most important goal of the CFB Playoff idea. Unfortunately, achieving that goal proved impossible. Selection Committees over the 10 Playoff seasons did their best. Their effort was often an impossible and thankless task of trying to build consensus about the soundness of their decisions.
Alabama football fans staunchly believe the Selection Committee failed the Crimson Tide in the 2022 season. Georgia fans feel the same way about the 2023 season. One of the two 'actual' semi-final games this season was the SEC Championship Game. Georgia belonged in the field despite the loss to Alabama.
The 'actual' National Championship Game was the Rose Bowl semi-final between Alabama Football and Michigan.
The CFB Playoff group was given a reality check last year. It was the final game debacle of a team that should not have been in the field getting embarrassed 65-7. The Playoff brain trust might have seen the obvious flaw in selecting teams but was powerless to correct it. The idea of 'best' and 'most deserving' had already been discarded to placate the lower regions of college football.
For fans thinking this assessment is unfairly harsh, think about how the field could be constructed in the 2024 season.
Projecting the first 12-team field requires an early Top 25 prediction. A recent one from a panel at 247Sports is used here.
The panel predicts the Power Four champions to be Georgia, Oregon, Clemson and Kansas State. The four teams become the top four seeds in the Playoff field and each team gets an opening round bye. So what is the problem? If the Top 25 prediction is correct, Clemson would be No. 14 and Kansas State would be No. 15. Ranked above the Tigers and the Wildcats - and not included in the Playoff field would be No. 10 Penn State, No. 11 Tennessee, No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 13 LSU.
An even bigger joke would be an opening round game matching a 12-seed Liberty against a 5-seed Texas. Liberty did not make 247's Top 25 but is projected to be the highest-ranked Group of Five champion. Texas could lose big against the Flames. Not in losing the game, of course, but potentially losing key players to injury and diminishing national championship chances.
There is one reason why none of these potential inequities matter. It is the bang of blossoming dollars the expanded Playoff field will produce. Money talks loudly, to the tune of potentially (according to ESPN) $1.3B annually - or more.
According to the 247Sports projected Top 25, five of the 12 teams would be from the SEC. Joining Georgia would be Alabama hosting Notre Dame, Ole Miss hosting Michigan, Missouri at Ohio State and the Liberty at Texas game.