Playoff Expansion: It’s happening

The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach had the scoop of the decade, in terms of actual news regarding the sport of college football. The playoff’s on the verge of moving toward a 12-team playoff model that’s bound to shake the sport dramatically.

From her report:

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said that the format will not change this year or next year. The current agreements run through the 2025-26 season.

The 12-team format would include the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large spots. The four highest-ranked conference champions would receive a first-round bye. Teams 5 through 12 would play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team.

The quarterfinals and semifinals would then be played in bowl games with the quarterfinals scheduled for Jan. 1, or Jan. 2 if New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday.

The playoff bracket is recommended to follow the rankings. No modifications are expected to avoid rematches, and the bracket would remain in effect throughout the playoff.

The 11-member management committee will review the recommendation during an upcoming meeting from June 17-18. If the proposal is endorsed, the committee reaches a consensus on an alternative model or decides to keep the current four-team format, the management committee will forward a recommendation to the CFP board of managers, which will meet June 22 in Dallas.

Nicole Auerbach and staff (The Athletic)


I’m not going to get caught up in what the model should be/what I want it to look like/what I assume is fair to everybody because I don’t think that’s a fun discussion. Plus, why should we care about what isn’t going to happen? This is the model that College Football is going to go with (assuming there aren’t any major changes to the proposal above), and this expansion’s pretty hype.

You don’t need to know all the details of all the major stories going on in the sport, but consider all of the moving parts going on that will have obvious, direct affects on all 130 (and counting) teams at the highest level of the game. The pandemic year gave every team the opportunity to have Super Seniors (no hits on eligibility in 2020), the transfer portal began four years ago and this is the first year where first-time transfers get immediate eligibility, and Name, Image and Likeness is going make various-sized splashes across the states. While I think blue bloods will still end up being blue bloods and the MAC East will still be the MAC East, all of these rule changes are going to change the way recruiting happens and the way players move around.

What if P.J. Fleck had the transfer portal to lean on when he had his run at Western? What if Rod Carey could’ve dipped into the portal to find a replacement for Drew Hare? Could Toledo have won more than just one title in the 2010s if these opportunities existed? Whether a MAC team’s building up to a title, or quickly rises to through the rankings, the chance for a particularly good MAC team to reach the playoff is right there through the proposed model.

While winning the MAC championship doesn’t guarantee anybody a spot in the playoff, it’s not exactly unhelpful for the league. There are some options.

  1. Get good. That’s the answer to everything about this sport at the end of the day. I know Boise State was amazing and didn’t get its fair share at the national title during the Kellen Moore years, but the playoff does still demand you perform very well to have a seat at the table. The playoff is still such a pipedream for most of these MAC teams, but every MAC fan, and especially the current students, can honestly dream about the chance that their team might make it to the playoff just once in their lifetimes. You don’t need a dynasty to make it in an expanded playoff. Sometimes all you’ll have to do is hit a lick.
  2. Give the FCS schools a call. This is the chance for the MAC to really start thinking about expansion: something I usually never care to talk about, but this is a new age. Now’s the time to do whatever it takes to get the right FCS teams up to the FBS level in hopes that they could raise the potential of this league’s representation in the expanded playoff. North Dakota State, James Madison, Youngstown State — see if anybody’s tone of voice has changed since the last time they were asked about moving up a level.

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