On September 2, 2022, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers unanimously voted to expand the College Football Playoff (CFP) from four teams to 12 teams. The new CFP format could begin as soon as 2024.
The CFP has been the playoff system for Division 1 college football for the past eight years. The current CFP format consists of the top four teams in the nation, which are voted on by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
Many of the Selection Committee’s decisions have caused controversy. Due to the seemingly annual debates, the Selection Committee has looked into expanding the playoff for several years.
Accordingly, the announcement of the change to include 12 teams instead of four made many fans exuberant, but many were also upset.
One benefit stemming from this decision for college football fans is that it makes the the postseason lengthier by having 11 postseason games instead of three. In addition, future NFL players who may play for any of the eight additional teams that now will qualify for the CFP are less likely to sit out and began preparing for the NFL due to the attention and magnitude of the CFP, as opposed to meaningless bowl games. College football stars sitting out of bowl games has become a major problem in the sport in recent years.
Saint Paul’s sophomore Alex Mott thought the move was a great move for college football: “I think the 12-team playoff is great, and I think it will give many more teams a chance at a National Championship. It will also be fun to watch with many possible upsets.”
However, there are potential drawbacks that come from this decision.
For instance, the regular season games might not have as much significance for some teams; now, two and maybe even three-loss teams, can make the CFP. This, to some fans, eliminates a significant aspect of college football: when a team receives a loss, it’s a deal breaker on that team’s season. This unquestionably raises the stakes for the regular season in a way that many other sports, including the NFL, cannot rival.
The new CFP format also increases the probability of player injuries. Many fans fear some of their favorite players getting injured due to playing so many games and being such young student athletes. Sports Analyst Enzo Flojo voiced this concern: “Extending the College Football Playoff would be wonderful for a Group of Five programs that wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to compete on a national scale… However, what happens when they leave the field with significant injuries?”
In my opinion, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers is making an excellent decision for two reasons. First, it gives fans more football and does not water down the playoff product too much. Second, there will be fewer controversies about which teams gets in and whether the eventual champion actually deserved to win. For example, it’s easy for an undefeated team that finishes ranked 5th, just outside of the current 4-team CFP format, to claim it deserved a chance to compete for the national championship. And that has happened multiple times. However, this same argument would not carry a lot of weight if the 13th-ranked team misses out, as it would be far less likely that this team could have won it all.
In sum, the new CFP format is a win-win because it creates more games and less controversy.