Since its debut in 2014, the College Football Playoff structure has been in question. The four team format allows mainly SEC and BIG10 powerhouses to compete for a championship. On the contrary, the four-team format makes every game meaningful.
The FBS commissioners and CFP board of managers met throughout the week and could not come to an agreement to extend the playoff format. The playoffs will contain only the four best teams as determined by the CFP Committee, and this will be the case until the conclusion of 2025 season.
The College Football Playoff will remain at four teams through the end of its current 12-year contract, which expires following the 2025 season, the CFP executive director told @CFBHeather on Friday. https://t.co/CniP7Fo4Mw
— ESPN (@espn) February 18, 2022
Maintaining Four-Team Playoff
The College Football Playoff has showcased some incredible games over the past eight years. With it being extremely difficult to qualify for the playoffs, every game in the season counts, creating a competitive Saturday week in and week out. This format ensures that only the best of the best are making it. Creating more playoff spots could allow for teams with multiple losses to make it. It would also make some games at the end of the regular season meaningless if a team is locked in.
It is also widely believed that there are bigger issues that college football is facing. This includes the emergence of NIL deals and the transfer portal. Both have affected where recruits are choosing to play and could change the landscape of college football. Teams that can offer the highest NIL deals have a distinct advantage when recruiting. This is arguably more of a necessity than a playoff expansion.
Drawbacks of the Current Format
The biggest argument against the four team format is that there aren’t enough spots to truly discover who the best team in the nation is. There are some great one and two loss teams who end up missing out because powerhouses like Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State are automatically making it if they win out their schedule. Additionally, there are non-power 5 conference teams who deserve a spot for dominating their play field. Their schedule doesn’t amount to that of an SEC team, but they should definitely be awarded a lower end playoff spot to prove their talent.
A hypothetical eight or 12 team format would allow the champions of each power-5 conference to qualify for the playoffs. This would also leave room for a few more teams to qualify if they didn’t win the conference title. We have also seen record numbers of players opt out of their respective bowl games to prepare for the draft. This can be avoided if their team is competing in the playoffs.
Future of the Playoffs
For the next three college football seasons, we will see the traditional four team format in the playoffs. If the same issues persist after the next three years, the committee will discuss an expansion and will pose a high chance of change. For now, NIL deals and the technicalities to the transfer portal will be at the forefront for changes to college football.