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College Football Playoff Expansion is Happening!

The Committee approved the 12 team model originally proposed last year.

NCAA Football: 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

College football playoff expansion is finally here!

It’s been a long road. The committee (conference presidents plus the Notre Dame AD) met numerous times last summer and brought a model to a vote. It was too good to be true as they couldn’t reach a unanimous yes after three people (from the ACC, PAC, and Big Ten) got cold feet. Everything fell apart, but then a funny thing happened; The Big Ten broke “the Alliance” and announced they were adding USC and UCLA to their conference. Suddenly, the Power 5 was becoming the Power 2 and the other three conferences went into panic mode.

The ACC, PAC, and Big 12 were afraid the other two leagues would form their own playoff (think of an NFL model) and leave them out in the cold if they didn’t cave. Talks resumed and today, it was announced that they approved the 12-team model from a year ago.

For those of you who don’t remember, here are the highlights of this playoff model:

  • The 12 teams will consist of six highest-ranked conference champions and a group of the six highest-ranked non-conference champions
  • This guarantees at least one Group of 5 team every year AND in theory, allows the opportunity for more, bringing some balance of power between the haves and have nots.
  • The high-ranked conference champions will be seeded 1-4 will have a first-round bye
  • The first-round games will be played at home or a neutral-site decided by the higher-seeded team.
  • The current New Year’s Six Bowls (Sugar, Rose, Cotton, Orange, Peach, Fiesta) will likely be the quarterfinal and semifinal games (although of course they are still trying to figure out how to preserve the Rose Bowl in all of this).
  • The national championship game will continue to be at a neutral site.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson has long been a proponent for not only an expanded playoff, but was one of the early advocates for a playoff in general. He was on the subcommittee that developed this model.

Also, UNLV president Keith Whitefield had a vote for the playoff expansion:

We will dive into the big news in a future Peak Perspective and discuss what this means for the Mountain West (hint: it’s a good thing).