Oh, lord. College football fans could not have asked for a better gift as Week 1 is underway.
Finally, the College Football Playoff is set to expand from four teams to 12, according to ESPN's Pete Thamel. The CFP Board of Managers have answered our prayers and are ditching the four-team model for an expanded one. While the move is expected to take place in 2026, after the current contract, it could take place as early as 2024.
The 12-team model is expected to start in 2026, after the current contract, according to a source. There's still a chance that it could go earlier, but those details are complicated and would take some time to work out. https://t.co/sRWlmiDvbe
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 2, 2022
An expanded playoff has been talked about for quite some time now. Fans have understandably complained that four was too little. The question then turned logistical: Six teams? Eight teams? 10? 12? 64? (OK, I'll admit that last one might be too many.)
The arrival of a 12-team playoff is an overall good thing. Why? I'll explain in four simple points.
1. 12 Teams Mean Byes, Which Places Importance on Regular Season
Think about it. With 12 teams, there will have to be four byes for the top four teams. Teams will be fighting like crazy to get into one of those spots, because it means one less playoff game they'd have to play. So while Texas A&M could assuredly have a spot in the playoff if they were ranked No. 5 near season's end, there's an incentive for the Aggies to play their butts off instead of "resting up" before the playoff.
Some detractors of byes think it isn't fair four teams don't have to play. I'd argue they deserve those byes.
2. More Meaningful Games is a Great Thing
Along that same vein, this format will give fans more meaningful games to watch. The current format gives us just three playoff games. This one would theoretically produce 11 games. It also means some of those New Year's Six Bowl Games will actually matter.
A potential look at what a CFP bracket could look like with 12 teams.
I would love to see the higher seeds host the quarter/semifinals ? could be a great added wrinkle in mid-late December. pic.twitter.com/QcYqdYU5g5
— Tony Liebert (@TonyLiebert) September 2, 2022
The only people I could see against more games are the players. You know how some top NFL Draft prospects sit out during bowl games for fear of getting hurt and losing money? Those guys would most certainly be expected to play in a playoff game that would've been a bowl game.
3. Money, Money, Money
This isn't so much about the fans, who are winning in this scenario anyway, as it is about the NCAA and its conferences. They'd be set to make a boatload of cash. According to CBS, "a 12-team playoff has been valued at $1.2 billion annually," while the current format is worth only $600 million. Another $600 million is plenty of incentive for the CFP bigwigs to make this happen. Like, sooner than 2026.
4. A Level Playing Field
Remember all the teams who've complained about not making the playoff despite winning their conference or going undefeated (I'm looking at 2017 UCF) against subpar teams? This eliminates the complaints. Those smaller schools that have been slighted get a chance to prove themselves with 12 teams in the mix. That's definitely a good thing. Even if a blue blood like Alabama or Ohio State ends up on top anyway, at least every deserving school got their shot.