It’s official! Only having 4 teams in the College Football Playoffs will be a thing of the past starting in the 2026 season. The CFP committee voted unanimously, 11-0, to approve the 12 team playoff system, ending the debate and speculation. Details on the exact format of the playoffs and which bowl games will be tied in are not out yet. We know that there will be automatic qualifiers and different levels of at-large bids. This expansion goes along with the current TV deal for the CFB Playoffs expiring after 2025. It makes senses not to do it earlier because ESPN would have the rights to the playoffs. That would be gifting the network 8 games for the agreed upon amount for 3 games. Some experts believe that the new TV contract could be valued anywhere from 1 to 1.5 Billion dollars annually. This is why they are waiting for 2026.
The 12 team format is interesting as in the top four teams will receive a bye in the first round. The question becomes on where games pitting 5 vs 12, 6 vs 11, 7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9 will be played. Could the College Football Committee move up upper mid-tier bowl games to meet the needs. With having 4 games in the 2nd round and 2 game in the semi-final, the committee could rearrange the New Years Day Six Bowls. It would be a rotating schedule on which games would receive which round. There is some serious money to be made on the 11-game slate of these playoffs and people better believe that committees like the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will be jockeying for position once final details emerge.
Utilizing the final rankings from the 2021 College Football Playoff Committee, the country would have been blessed with first round matchups in Notre Dame vs Pittsburg, Ohio St. vs Utah, Baylor vs Michigan St and Ole Miss vs Oklahoma St. The country only got the Ohio St. vs Utah matchup in an epic Rose Bowl performance. Using this format, there will be a lot of details that will need to come to light before the 2026 Playoffs.
Questions to be Answered
The biggest question is going to be how the committee hands out At-Large bids. How do they handle programs that are independent like Notre Dame? Will there be a limitation to the number of schools from a single conference that are able to make the playoffs? One or two rematches are tolerable but seeing three or four of the same game done earlier in the season would annoy a lot of fans. What will be the driving factor for conference expansion? There is so many factors that need to be discussed and decided upon that everything now is pure speculation. As for now, sit back, relax and enjoy a fantastic slate of College Football this week. We will have more information at SpinnableSports.com as it comes out. Also tune in The Irrational Confidence Podcast as Haps and Fresh bring you College Football information all season long