The New Expanded 12-Team Playoff: Is it Good For College Football?


Oliver Thomas

On September 2nd, 2022, the College Football Playoff board made one of the biggest decisions in the history of the sport: expanding the playoff to 12 teams. The new playoff is set to debut by 2026 but could be implemented as early as 2024. 



Rules of the New playoff


According to, “The 12-team Playoff will be made up of the six conference champions ranked highest by the committee, with no minimum ranking requirement, and the six highest-ranked teams not among the conference champions. The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded Nos. 1 through 4 and will receive a first-round bye.”

The first round of the playoff will be played on the campus of the 5-8 seeds. The sport has never seen anything like this before, and it is safe to say these games will be nothing less than thrilling. This new playoff brings opportunities to more schools and gives them the opportunity to compete for a national championship. The expansion of the playoff does bring some concerns such as losing out of conference matchups as well as the importance of the regular season. Some people described that this expansion may even create college football into a younger version of the NFL. 



What is a power 5 Conference?

According to CBS: “The Power Five encompasses 65 schools, those that make up the five largest and richest conferences in college athletics (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) plus Notre Dame.”





Is the Expanded playoff good for College?

Though it will be unlike anything the sport has ever seen, the expanded playoff is great for college football. There is a sense of mystery behind this playoff. No sport is like college football. During the BCS/4 team playoff era every game matters. Usually, a team can drop 1 game during the regular season, but that’s it. As of now, no two-loss team has ever made the playoff since the expansion. This is something that makes college football so special. Along with the bands, student sections, heated rivalries, and many other great and historic traditions, one of the main things that the sport holds is the importance of every game. The wins mean more, and the losses hurt more than they would in any other sport. Just one game can throw a team in the conversation of a playoff spot, meanwhile, the fact that one off night can have a team go from national title contender to looking from the outside in of the playoff picture.


This is something that makes college football so special. Once the playoff is expanded, each game becomes less important. The lower seeds in the playoff will most likely be 2 loss teams, which is something that the sport has never seen before. By no means will the regular season be meaningless. This expansion just expands the room for error and will allow teams to lose 2 or even 3 games and still have a shot at continuing their season. 


The home playoff games will also bring something new and exciting to the sport. College football atmospheres have always been the best in all sports. Whether it be a Penn State whiteout or just a big game at Neyland for Tennessee, college football games always have some of the loudest and most energetic crowds in all of the sports. There isn’t much to say about these on-campus playoff games except that the environments will be amazing. This expanded playoff will give even more schools a shot at the glory of a playoff, and having a playoff game on campus will make these games even more energetic. 

The semifinal games that were played in the 4 team playoff era from 2015 to 2022 also tended to be lackluster from an entertainment standpoint. Though we got arguably the greatest college football game ever in Georgia’s 54-48 Rose Bowl overtime thriller and the wild last-minute interception from Nolan Turner that gave Clemson a win over Ohio State win in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, the majority of these games have been flat-out bad. Giving the best coaches in the sport 3 or more weeks to prepare for an opponent gives less chance of an upset and tends to lead to blowout games. 13 of the 16 semi-final games have been decided by double digits or more, showing that clearly change is due. The new playoff will allow the -4 seeds to receive a bye week, but also won’t allow these teams to prepare for their opponent until after the first round of games because they won’t know their opponent. 


With Bowl Games becoming less popular among players, this expansion makes even more sense. Prior to the CFP era, the bowl games felt more prestigious, but as time has gone on they have grown to become more unpopular. For good reason, more players have chosen to sit out of their school’s Bowl Game to avoid injury and prepare for the draft. There has been much less interest surrounding the non-playoff bowl games, and it has gotten to the point where there is no point in having them if there isn’t any actual meaning to them. With the new possible “Super Conferences” the Bowl Games become even more pointless with the bowl tie-in systems. With UCLA and USC moving into the big 10 as well as Oklahoma and Texas making the move to the SEC in the upcoming years, the conference tie-ins to bowl games make less and less sense. 


Chris Vannini, writer for the Athletic went as far as to say these non-playoff New Years’ six games were “purgatory”. With star players sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft, the games are less entertaining and feel unnecessary and as if they are a waste of time. To change this, the new playoff will have these typical New Year 6 Bowl games played in the Quarterfinal and Semifinal as neutral site games. The issue with these neutral site games is they don’t bring the same atmosphere and excitement an on-campus game would bring. Even if the semi-finals are played at neutrals sites, I do believe that the Quarterfinal round should be on-campus as well. 


With the elimination of the New Year 6 Games, the New Expanded Playoff makes the postseason much more exciting for everyone. There are some questions that this expanded playoff raises, whether it will affect the regular season, in many different ways. Now with the winner of all 5 power 5 conferences as well as the winner of one Group of 5 schools having an automatic bid for the playoff, scheduling may become much different. In the current state of college football, many big-name schools schedule an out-of-conference game with another big-name school. An example of this is Ohio State and Notre Dame scheduling a home-and-home series (Notre Dame at Ohio State in 2022, Ohio State at Notre Dame in 2023). This allows the winners of these games to have a good win on their playoff resume, giving them a better shot at earning a playoff spot over a school that had a less challenging out-of-conference schedule. Now that the winner of each conference gets an automatic bid, would there be any point to continue a tough out-of-conference schedule? Though there are many exciting out-of-conference games scheduled all the way up to the next 10 years, many of these games could get canceled and be rescheduled for an easier opponent. However, a school would need to be banking on the fact that they win their conference. This is a dangerous way to go about a season, so we very well may see many schools keep these matchups. 


Though many more changes are on the horizon, the expansion of the playoff may be the best one we see. Though the obvious reason for its expansion was for money purposes, the expansion adds more entertainment without tarnishing what college football truly is.