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Expert: Expanded Playoff Will Improve College Football

The College Football Playoff will look much different in 2024, rightly giving national championship aspirations to more teams and introducing a "March Madness" vibe to the traditional holiday season.

Expanded college football playoffs will improve the game

College football is about to improve

The College Football Playoff will look much different in 2024, rightly giving national championship aspirations to more teams and introducing a “March Madness” vibe to the traditional holiday season, according to a sports management expert at Florida Atlantic University.

The new format will expand the current four-team playoff to 12 teams, with first-round games being played less than a week before Christmas Day in the higher seed’s home stadium. Bowl games will begin with the quarterfinal round, while the semifinals will be played on the Thursday and Friday before weekend NFL Wild Card games.

The National Championship will take place on Jan. 20, 2025, two weeks later than it is now.

These are seismic changes for college football that needed to happen, said Dan Cornely, assistant director of FAU’s MBA in Sport Management program in the College of Business.

“As it is now, the same handful of traditional powers have the inside track to the four-team playoff, and all the games are played in ideal weather conditions or in domes with corporate atmospheres,” he said. “By adding teams and introducing the unpredictability of weather, you keep more players and fans interested and increase the chance for upsets, which is exactly why the NCAA basketball tournament is so popular.”

For decades, Division I college football was the only sport that did not have a playoff. Coaches’ votes and wire-service polls decided who went to the national championship, but the format meant the two best teams often did not get to play each other to decide the title.

At the end of the 1998 season, the NCAA introduced the Bowl Championship Subdivision to guarantee the top two teams would face each other, but those matchups were still decided by imperfect computer rankings. College football introduced the four-team playoff in 2014, but almost immediately critics said the system still shut out undefeated or one-loss schools that deserved to compete for the national championship.

In the new 12-team format, the teams will be comprised of the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six highest-ranked other teams. That gives hope to mid-major teams, as well as more traditional football schools that are playing well after suffering a pair of early season losses, Cornely said.

He added that by scheduling playoff games on weeknights right before the Wild Card games, it may appear that college football is acquiescing to the NFL, the nation’s most popular sports league. But the new schedule creates a bigger window of football for fans of both the pro and college games, according to Cornely.

“This is a chance for NFL fans to see how exciting college football can be,” he said. “This is bound to increase the popularity of college football, which is a great thing for the players and fans.”


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