College Football Playoffs Eyeing Further Expansion

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We have yet to see even one year of the newly expanded College Football Playoff field of 12 teams, and already there is talk about moving up to 16 teams. The leaders of the CFP met in Dallas this week, and they reportedly discussed the idea of further expansion as soon as 2026.

As things are set up now, the top four seeds in the 12-team playoff will get first-round byes, and seeds five through eight will host seeds nine through 12. With 16 teams, there would be no byes. The top seed would host No. 16, the second seed hosts No. 15, and so on.

Instead of four first-round games, we would have eight first-round games, which means more ticket revenue (which is split among the conferences) and a more attractive television package. Beyond the first round, neutral bowl game sites will host the CFP matchups.

Long-time college football play-by-play voice Tim Brando calls the expansion “tremendous for the overall growth” of college football. But the more cautious voices have expressed concern about the health of the non-CFP bowl games. Once you get to the majority of the Top 25 playing in the CFP, the remaining bowl games lose much of their luster. What kind of television rights are you going to get for the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl?

There is no firm timeline on when the CFP Management Committee would make a decision on further expansion, or how qualifying for those extra positions would work. But ESPN isn’t going to expand its new TV deal until those details have been decided, so look for a decision to come sooner rather than later.

Athletes Without a Voice

For the longest time, university presidents resisted the call for a playoff, citing the concern for the student athletes. But the money at stake now is simply too great to ignore. Concern for the players has taken a backseat.

NIL dollars have made it easier for universities to treat their players like professional athletes and not college students. But the majority of the players in the CFP are not getting paid, and now the postseason will last for a full month for two teams. The first round of games next year are scheduled for December 20-21, with the CFP National Championship scheduled for January 20.

Football bettors are getting -300 on Georgia to win the National Championship next year, with Ohio State at +480.

When the NFL expanded to 17 regular season games, the NFL Players Association was a major player in negotiations. As the CFP talks about even further expansion, the only decision-makers are university presidents and athletic directors.

Adding to the feeling that the players are being ignored is the upcoming return of EA Sports College Football, which is offering $600 and a free copy of the video game for any college football player who allows the use of their name and likeness. Beyond that $600, there will be no further royalties.

For some players, $600 and having your name in a video game is great compensation. For players like Quinn Ewers of Texas and Carson Beck of Georgia, cofavorites to win the Heisman Trophy next season, according to college football online sportsbooks, $600 is pocket change.

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