Kirby Smart calls potential playoff expansion ‘greatest change’

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Future non-conference college football opponents for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart — speaking Saturday on ESPN’s Marty & McGee Show — calls the proposed 12-team playoff, “probably the greatest change there has been in terms of major college football.”

The proposed 12-team playoff, which goes before the College Football Playoff management committee on Thursday and Friday during meetings in Chicago, would be composed of the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six teams ranked highest by the CFP selection committee.

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The top four teams get byes, and teams 5-12 play on the higher-ranked team’s campus to make it into the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals and semifinals would be played at neutral site bowl games, as is currently the format with four teams.

The format could start as early as 2023.

Georgia would have made the College Football Playoffs each of the past four years had the 12-team playoff been in play.

Smart and Georgia have been scheduling in anticipation of expanded playoffs for more than two years, adding such future home-and-home series as:

Louisville is another home-and-home in 2026 and 2027, though it’s hard to gauge if the Cardinals will be any more competitive than ACC in-state foe Georgia Tech, which UGA has traditionally played home and away each season.

“I think a lot of this is going to boil down to strength of schedule,” Smart said on the ESPN show. “For a long time now we have been trying to build up our future strength of schedule, because it’s not the losses that are going to kill you; it’s not playing the best teams.

“We’ve tried to go out and schedule major Power 5s across our scheduling system all the way out with the hopes that this would give us the opportunity to go play some really good teams. And losses won’t kill you when you start talking about top 12. You’ve got to have a powerful schedule and go play good teams.”

Georgia opens the season at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 4, against Clemson in Charlotte, N.C.

The Bulldogs, who again play Clemson in their 2024 opener in Atlanta, have other non-conference games this coming season against UAB, Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech.

In 2022, Georgia’s season opens against Oregon in Atlanta, with non-conference games against Samford, Kent State and Georgia Tech.