We learned Tuesday how the first edition of the expanded-by-200-percent College Football Playoff will look. For one final year, the “P” in CFP will stand for “puny,” with only four qualifiers. Come December 2024, the field grows to a dozen, which leads to the first of several thoughts/questions/quibbles.
· Will any season produce 12 championship-level teams? We answer that query with another: Was not the score of the most recent title game 65-7?
· The 12-team field will include the champs of the six highest-ranked conferences – essentially the Power 5 plus the American – and the six highest-ranked “other” teams, to use the CFP’s unflattering description of its wild cards. The four highest-ranked conference champs get byes. There’s the reward for being a conference champ.
· If we apply next year’s formula to last year’s CFP rankings, half the four-team field would have gone bye-less. TCU lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 final. Ohio State, having lost to Michigan, didn’t play for the Big Ten title. Clemson, ranked No. 8, and Utah, ranked No. 9, would have drawn byes. Whoa, Nellie.
· Again grafting last year’s standings onto next year’s specs, first-round games would have been staged in Columbus, Ohio; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Knoxville, Tenn., and Manhattan, Kan.
· There’s a tantalizing bit of CFP verbiage: The Round 1 higher seeds will host the lower seeds “either on campus or at sites designated by the higher-seeded institution.” Does this open the door for Bama to play a tournament game in Birmingham? Might Cincinnati decide its “home” game should be held in the Bengals’ place by the river, as opposed to the quaintly antiquated Nippert Stadium?
· SEC folks assume the league where It Just Means More will, in the new CFP, Just Get More. That wouldn’t have been the case in 2022. The SEC would have generated three of the 12 – Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The Big Ten would have sent Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. The Big 12 would have dispatched TCU and K-State, the Pac-12 Utah and USC. The ACC would have had Clemson. The highest-rated non-Power 5 champ would have been Tulane of the American, ranked No. 16 overall.
· If you’re wondering – SEC folks surely are – the maximum number of teams from one league that can make the 12-team field, it’s seven. Realistically, it’s probably four. Unless Greg Sankey throws a snit fit.
· Round 1 in 2024 will feature a Friday night game and a Saturday tripleheader the weekend before Christmas. The campus games won’t be designated as bowls – a bowl in the other Manhattan would be intriguing – but all games in the next two rounds will be.
· The 2024 New Year’s quarterfinals: Fiesta on Tuesday, which is New Year’s Eve; Chick-fil-A Peach, Rose and Sugar on New Year’s Day. Thus does the Rose Bowl gets to keep its late-afternoon kickoff after its morning Tournament of Roses Parade. The more things change, the more the mighty Rose holds fast.
· The semis will be in Miami and Dallas on Jan. 9 and 10, which are Thursday and Friday. The final will be on Jan. 20 – a Monday – in Atlanta. That means Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the site of both a quarterfinal and the title tilt. On Jan. 19, 2026, it will play host to a semifinal. The CFP really, really likes us!
· Back to the 2024-5 schedule: CFP games will be played on Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday again, and a Monday. The only day of the week it will miss is Sunday, which belongs to a higher level of football.
· A 12-team tournament will feature 11 games. What happens with the other thirtysomething bowl games? Beats the heck out of me.
· Over the past two postseasons, Bulldog Nation has descended on Miami, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles, not to mention two SEC championship games and a semifinal in the A-T-L. That’s a hefty monetary outlay. Will the willingness to pay any price and travel any distance hold when the playoff begins before Christmas and lasts until the latter half of January?
· Then again, Atlanta appears to be the center of the expanded CFP universe. At last check, Atlanta’s in Georgia.
· From the moment of the first CFP game – Jan. 1, 2015 – we wondered how long it would take the event to grow. Answer: 10 years. We now wonder how long before this becomes a 24-team lollapalooza. When it comes to money and TV, more and bigger is always better. And is there such a thing as too much college football? Didn’t think so.
· Oh, and since you asked: The first 12-team playoff will be won by Georgia. It’s Kirby’s world.
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