Outside of College Realignment, the big topic of conversation is the College Football Playoff. Starting in the 2024-25 season, college football is switching from a four-team playoff, which we currently have, and is in the last year of, to a 12-team playoff. However, there were talks of potentially changing that format before we even got there because of what happened to the Pac-12.
The good news for everyone is those changes are being shelved until the situation at West involving the Pac-12 is resolved. Hence, everything is in a holding pattern. There was a potential for change coming out of the two-day meetings at the Big Ten headquarters. However, all parties involved thought it was best to put “everything on hold.”
The new 12-team College Football Playoff would see six automatic highest-ranked conference champions get in plus six at large bids. That makes sense. It would be the Power 5 and the highest-ranked conference champion out of the Mountain West, the American, and Conference USA. Then, there were automatic bids. This allows Notre Dame to get in.
However, with potentially eliminating the Pac-12 Conference next season, there was talk of changing it to five automatic highest-ranked conference champions and seven at-large bids. Instead of six automatic bids, there would be five. Again highest ranked conference champions. The Big 4 of Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, and ACC plus one of the Mountain West or American getting automatic bids. Then the seven at large teams.
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The format was only approved last year. So some do not want it to change because we haven’t even seen it yet. The format is to be used for 2024 and 2025. There is no contract beyond the 2025 season.
You knew a potential change could be coming. Once the Pac-12 started losing all their teams to either the Big 12, Big Ten, or ACC. Just imagine if the Pac-12 could survive going forward because it is exciting to watch this year.
There is so much uncertainty involving Washington State and Oregon State. Not to mention the Pac-12 is in the midst of one of their best seasons ever. And who knows, the CFB Committee could allow the Pac-12 to exist with two teams. Unfortunately, that would be only allowable for two seasons according to NCAA Bylaws.
To be recognized by the NCAA as a conference, you need a minimum of eight teams. Thus, the Committee wants to see how things play if Oregon State and Washington State merge with the Mountain West.
If the Pac-12 does go away, there is a strong preference to change the model from 6+6 to a 5+7 format, meaning the five highest-ranked conference champions plus the next seven highest-ranked teams.
But that will need a unanimous vote to make a format change before the start of the 2024 season. However, American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco on Wednesday said he will currently vote against changing the current contract.
“[I] will vote 6-6 for now,” Aresco said. “If a nuanced proposal that is different should develop, I would consult with my conference membership.”
So if it favors the Group of 5, Aresco will vote for a format change.
But for now, everything is on hold, and the 6+6 format for the 12-team College Football Playoff stands as is. Again, for now.