College Football Playoff approves new format: How will CFP look in 2024-2025?

A new format is coming soon to the recently-expanded College Football Playoff.

Jan 7, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; A helmet with the College Football Playoff logo at the CFP National
Jan 7, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; A helmet with the College Football Playoff logo at the CFP National / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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College Football Playoff Board of Managers approves new format; who will make the 12-team CFP?

When the College Football Playoff began back in 2014, it was an exciting time of change in the sport. After years of controversy under the BCS system, the very first year of the 4-team format saw an Ohio State squad that barely snuck in the field win the whole thing in dominating fashion.

Now, ten years later, there’s been just as much controversy, if not more, than what preceded. This has been so much the case, in fact, that some have advocated for a return to the BCS system, declaring that it would be better than the committee format that we currently have.

The majority opinion among the casual fans, however, is that expansion is the answer. And expansion is the path that has been chosen, as, beginning this fall, the playoff field will increase to twelve teams.

There are pluses and minuses to this move, without a doubt. Detractors claim (just as they did with the original CFP) that it will detract from the regular season. There’s merit to that. But overall, I think this is a welcome move among the college football-viewing public. 

This isn’t just a simple move to 12 teams, however. There are more format changes than just an increase in the number of teams. Those format changes—approved today by the CFP Board of Managers—can be a bit confusing. 

The playoff is moving to a “5+7” model. In other words, the top five seeds are reserved for the five highest-rated conference champions. You can see how this was originally conceived in the all-too-recent Power 5 era—a moniker now out of date given the change in membership in the Big 12 and essential dissolution of the PAC-12.

An interesting consequence here is that teams without a conference, such as Notre Dame, cannot come into the playoff ranked in the top 5, as they cannot be a conference champion. Will this be an incentive for the Irish to make a move to a full-time member of a conference? I know the ACC, who currently has a strange semi-member agreement with ND, would love to have the Irish fully enfolded so as to increase their brand power.

One thing is for sure, though: there is almost a complete certainty that whatever happens next, controversy will spring up sooner rather than later. We saw it with the BCS and the original CFP, and it won’t be long until we see it in this new format. The only question will be what changes next.

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