The current four-team College Football Playoff is working out fine, I’d say, and if we’re all being honest, there usually aren’t more than two or three legitimate title contenders in a given year anyway. But this format inevitably excludes at least one power conference, and there is more money to be had, so expansion is likely around the corner.
Last week, a CFP working group submitted a proposal for a 12-team playoff format in which the top four conference champions would receive byes, with teams seeded five through 12 playing the first round of games, which will be hosted by the higher seed in each contest (i.e. 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, etc).
That’ll get every power league champion in the field, and at least one Group-of-Five school most years, I’d imagine. The extra access isn’t necessary from a determining-the-best-team standpoint (again, there’s usually only a few title-caliber teams) but it gives a bunch of schools a chance of making the postseason when they’d otherwise have none, and that’s not a bad thing.
It’s definitely not a bad thing from an NC State perspective. The Wolfpack is almost certainly never going to be good enough to merit a top-four ranking, but top 12? That’s not a crazy notion by any means. There are realistic scenarios where State is ranked in the top 20 in late October or early November, putting it in the playoff conversation, which sounds pretty good to me.
Also, a 12-team tournament may hasten the demise of conference divisions, and anything that helps NC State get out from under Clemson is more than welcome, far as I’m concerned.
As leagues prepare to discuss the 12-team playoff, the fate of divisions will be in the crosshairs. With more at-large bids at stake, leagues may find more urgency to put their two best teams in the league title game. Expect leagues to make a deep dive on the potential impact.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) June 15, 2021
If there is to be an expanded field, it won’t be this season or the next, but could come before the CFP’s current four-team agreement ends in 2026.