College football postseason format changing from 4 to 12 teams by 2026

The Alabama offense takes the field against the Clemson defense in the 2019 National Championship game. (Kunal Mehta via WikipediaCommons)

The Alabama offense takes the field against the Clemson defense in the 2019 National Championship game. (Kunal Mehta via WikipediaCommons)

On Sept. 2, the College Football Playoffs (CFP) board of managers unanimously voted to expand the College Football Playoff from 4 teams to 12 by 2026. According to ESPN, the CFP board is trying to encourage the sport’s commissioners to implement the expansion as soon as 2024. 

According to Sports Illustrated, the CFP expansion will “lead to an additional $450 million in estimated revenue in 2024 and ’25.”

In an appearance on HBO’s Back On The Record, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said: “Bowl games are not something players want to play in. Now players opt out of that if it’s not part of the playoff. Therefore, I’m for expanding the playoffs.” 

This decision by the CFP committee sparked debates among fans about whether it was a good or bad idea for the NCAA. Some fans consider it a good idea because it could be more entertaining and make the playoffs more competitive. Other fans could see it as a bad idea because expanded playoffs could lead to more injuries to players, and an extended season could be a problem for some fans too. 

“I think it’s a pretty good idea because it makes it feel like March Madness (the basketball tournament),” said Guilford senior Chandler Tuten.

Tuten also mentioned that expanding the tournament could make it more fun for fans to watch and could be more fun for the players. Since college football playoffs are being expanded, teams have more opportunities to compete for a championship. In contrast, with this current format, if a team loses more than one game, then its chances of making the playoffs are slim to none, he said.

“I think it would be more competitive, but those teams like Alabama, Georgia, or Ohio State would still be dominant when the new college football playoff format is established,” Tuten said. 

“I think it’s a great idea for the NCAA because it could bring a lot more revenue to the NCAA and the colleges,” said Luke Proctor, a sophomore who plays on the men’s basketball team. 

Expanded playoffs also would bring in teams from non-Power Five football conferences because, in the current format, you rarely see a team outside of the Power Five make it, Proctor said.

“The only problem I see is guys getting injured because of the number of games, but if they could keep injuries out of it, I think it would be a good thing for the NCAA.” 

Guilford graduate student Luke Bryant also sees expanded college football playoffs as a good thing for the NCAA, “because the same four teams that make it yearly are getting the best recruits.”

Being the best team is a significant part of recruiting because recruits want to win games, and now that the playoffs are expanding, more schools can get some of the best recruits, Bryant said.

“The new format will be competitive in a few years after it’s established because the powerhouse teams will still have a lot of the best recruits and players, but as time goes on, it (the playoffs) will start to be very competitive,” said Bryant.