NCAA Football Playoff Expansion


Caitlin Patten

Taken at a USC football game

Caitlin Patten

Within the offseason of college football, it is important to keep an eye out for emerging teams, top recruits, and most importantly new decisions regarding the game of football. As of 2023, American football is the most popular college and professional sport in the United States. One noteworthy change for college football is the expansion of the Division 1 playoffs from four teams to twelve. 

Back in 2014, The College Football Playoff Board of Managers members decided on a four team playoff format with one talented team taking home the National Championship. Over the past years, elite programs such as Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and Clemson have won, most recently Georgia. Although the board met in September and decided this change would be enacted in 2026, they unanimously voted in November to make the change as early as 2024. This means that the upcoming season of college football will be the last with the four team playoffs. Naturally, concerns arose regarding regular season schedules, bye weeks, and injuries. However, The College Football Board remains confident in their decision for a variety of reasons.

For starters, the new adjustment for the playoffs will allow a number of rising programs to gain recognition. Since talented recruits look to play at top universities, every team can benefit from increasing their presence and name recognition. Although there are still conversations to be had, board members do not anticipate significant changes to the regular season. Late November games will likely become more important than in years past. Also, the new format will recognize the four highest ranked conference champions as the top seeds. They will each earn a first round bye, leaving the other eight teams to compete for advancement. 

Freshman Cavan Nicholas says that “The way I see it is so many small college football schools go into every season knowing they have little to no chance to even make the playoffs. For many schools one loss is all it takes to not be considered a top 4 team.”

Additionally, the sports industry is always looking for ways to grow viewership and increase fan bases. Allowing more teams into the playoffs will certainly provide that. Teams lacking school spirit will see a rapid increase in fans, even if they don’t make it far into the playoffs. A rise in the total number of televised games will definitely intensify the sport. The title of a College Football Playoff game is sure to bring in alumni, students, and fans to fill the stands. 

When asked to speak on the topic, Freshman Ryan Hallisey says that she is “Thrilled by the announcement of the change. I’m going to love spending more weekend nights watching football with my friends.”

As the offseason progresses, fans can expect to see a magnitude of discussion circling around college football. With viewership increasing each year, these new changes will provide the NCAA Football Playoffs with more hype than ever before.