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College football enters new era with playoff expansion

Bryan Bresee of Clemson University is hoisted into the air by his teammates after a successful safety. Clemson beat Boston College 34-28 on their home soil of Memorial Stadium Oct. 31, 2020.

College football, run by the National Collegiate Athletic Association dates back to 1869, although the current playoff structure was established in 2014. Under this system, the College Football Playoff committee ranks teams from one to 25 weekly, considering performance and roster strength. At the end of the regular season, the top four teams compete in the playoffs.

Next season, starting in late August, college football will transition to the new 12-team playoff system, thus expanding viewership and revenues. The CFP will continue its weekly rankings, but at season’s end, it will rank teams from one to 12 instead of one to four. Following this, the top 12 teams will compete for the National Championship, with the winners advancing to the National Championship game.

Ethan Rhodes (’25) said adding more teams to the playoff will positively change the sport as it will allow a better chance for more teams to compete on the biggest stage.

“I did enjoy the four-team playoff,” Rhodes said. “However, I’ve always thought that there should be more teams involved so that a lot more teams can showcase their skills and talents in the playoff tournament.”

Additionally, Gabi Dawson (‘24) said the change from four teams to 12 will add value to the playoff.

“It will make more games important and give fans more of an opportunity to get excited,” Dawson said. “Many people are open to the change.”

According to Yahoo Sports, last season’s National Championship game was the second highest-viewed game, only behind the playoff semi-final, which featured the University of Michigan and the University of Alabama. Due to this, the NCAA wants to increase the number of playoff games, with the involvement of more fans and profit being central to the decision.

Rhodes said he agreed the change would benefit the sport’s finances and popularity.

“[The NCAA will] bring in more revenue for the sport in general because there will be more games for people to watch,” Rhodes said. “With 12 teams, it gives the best teams in college football a chance to try and win a tournament.”

Alumnus Joe Burston (’16), who works for the sports marketing agency GSE Worldwide, said he approves of the updated structure.

“In terms of the general structure, I think it’s great for college football,” Burston said. “It is a huge move for the NCAA and for college sports.”

From a fan perspective, Dawson said she believes the change will be beneficial to the team she supports.

“I think it will benefit my team, USC, which I support,” Dawson said.

Furthermore, Burston said the change will give players more opportunities to showcase their talents on a larger stage.

“For the fans, and the players, it provides more exposure and opportunity to play for a National Championship,” Burston said.

Moreover, Burston said the 12-team playoff could increase excitement within the college football world, as there will be many more games on the line.

“The bowl games are always big, in part because of the fanbases behind each school and the history behind each game, but I think the restructuring of the College Football Playoffs comes at a good time,” Burston said.

While it remains to be seen how next season will play out, fans welcome the chance to watch more high-stakes games in January. Rhodes said he has an optimistic mindset as he prepares for the future of college football.

“It’s going to bring a lot of positive change,” Rhodes said. “A lot of teams can make it to the playoffs a lot more.”

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About the Contributor
Colton Stenson, Media Team
Colton Stenson ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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