by John Walters
It Goes To Twelve
Move over, Nigel “It Goes To 11” Tufnel. There’s a new extreme in town. The college football presents (i.e. the NCAA for college football, because there’s still not technically a Division I FBS NCAA championship) just announced that the college football postseason will be trebled (maybe our hed should’ve been “Treble Makers?”, but that’s too much Pitch Perfect for one week)in terms of schools (or, as Joel Klatt would say, “brands”), from four to 12.
They say that this will definitely begin in 2026, but could happen earlier. The bet here? 2024.
So, yes, we’ve never been a fan of any change to college football away from the core ethos that made it so magical: the idea that on any given Saturday in any podunk college town the best team in the sport could see its championship run terminated. Some people hate that; we love it. College football used to only sometimes reward the best team, but it always rewarded the most consistent team.
With a four-team playoff, we saw utter stagnation. It was basically four schools—Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State—and then it was everyone else. Those four schools represent 14 of the 16 national championship game finalists since the four-team playoff began in 2014. If it was supposed to promote more diversity, it in fact did the opposite. Will expanding the playoff only promote even more hegemony? It would be difficult to build upon that 7/8ths number, or 87.5% for just four schools.
What it will do, however, is make “regular season” games less impactful. It will also make third-year players who are about to go in the first or second rounds of the NFL draft seriously wonder if they want to put their bodies through up to three more games, against only top-flight competition, before heading to the ‘bine.
Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences. Meanwhile, college football was never broke. It’s a shame they always seem to wanting to fix it.