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The 12-team College Football Playoff wait will no longer be as hard.
In just two years, the College Football Playoff format will expand from the current four teams to 12 teams. The CFP Board of Governors officially announced Thursday that the new format will begin with the 2024 season
On Sept. 2, the board announced by unanimous vote the move from four teams, which began with the first CFP in 2014, to 12 teams by 2026 at the latest. But it said it would look into an earlier move. And that is what has happened after the Rose Bowl on Wednesday informed the CFP It would change its future dates to accommodate for a 2024 start to the 12-team format.
“We’re delighted to be moving forward,” CFP director Bill Hancock said Thursday. “When the board expanded the playoff beginning in 2026 and asked the CFP Management Committee to examine the feasibility of starting the new format earlier, the Management Committee went right to work.”
The four-team format tended to result in bitter arguments from schools finishing No. 5 and No. 6, including conspiracy theories. People also thought there was too much bias and loyalty to large brand names, such as Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. That has not happened this year, however, as the final four is expected to be the first ever without Alabama or Clemson – currently ranked No. 6 and No. 9 with little chance of moving up.
New Format Should Solve The Arguments
The top four as of Tuesday’s most recent CFP rankings were Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC, and the latter two have never made the CFP final four. In 2024, teams that were rarely even considered for the playoffs will be making it.
If the new format started today, the 12 teams in would be the above top four along with No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Tennessee, No. 8 Penn State, No. 9 Clemson, No. 10 Kansas State and No. 11 Utah based on the current CFP rankings. No. 18 Tulane would also get in as the 12th seed as it would be the highest ranked non-Power Five program.
The final CFP rankings for this season will be Sunday (Noon, ESPN) after critical conference championship games on Friday and Saturday.
“More teams and more access mean more excitement for fans, alumni, students and student-athletes,” Hancock said. “We appreciate the leaders of the six bowl games and the two future national championship game host cities for their cooperation. Everyone realized that this change is in the best interest of college football and pulled together to make it happen.”
How 12-Team Format Will Work
The Rose Bowl will be a quarterfinal game in the 2024 and 2025 seasons. The other quarterfinal games in 2024 will be at the Fiesta, Peach and Sugar bowls with the semis at the Cotton and Orange bowls in January. The national championship game for the 2024 season will be on Jan. 20, 2025, in Atlanta.
The first round in 2024 will begin the week of Saturday, Dec. 21. The top four ranked teams by the CFP will get first round byes.
Under the new, 12-team format beginning in 2024, the field will include the top six conference champions and six wild-card teams. After the top four get byes, the other eight teams will play first-round games at the home stadiums of the better seeded teams. Another entry will be the highest ranked non-Power Five team.
The New Year’s Six bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Peach) will alternate with quarterfinal and semifinal games.
If New Playoff Format Started Now
If the playoffs began this weekend, the first round games would pit No. 12 Tulane at No. 5 Ohio State, No. 11 Utah at No. 6 Alabama, No. 10 Kansas State at No. 7 Tennessee, and No. 9 Clemson at No. 8 Penn State.
The SEC would have three teams in the playoffs if the 2024 format was used now – Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. But SEC commissioner Greg Sankey expects more than that in 2024 and beyond.
“Six maybe seven,” Sankey said at a press conference on Thursday related to the SEC Championship Game on Saturday between No. 14 LSU and No. 1 Georgia (4 p.m., CBS). But he was kidding … sort of.
“We’ll max it out at seven with a smile on my face,” he said.