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College Football Teams Finally Finding Parity

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Fear not, college football fans, the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams is opening the door for a new era of football. The sport aligns with the times, and the typical four NCAAF picks of the old days are no more. 

Starting in 2024, 12 teams – five conference champions and the highest-rated Group of Five teams, along with six at-large picks – will make the College Football Playoff. The top four seeds will get a bye, and in 2026 the top seeds in the first round of games will be hosted on their college campuses. The final matches will be played at bowl games.

College Football

Parity in 2022 has been big. Ohio State has been a fixture in the playoff and risks missing out due to Michigan winning the Big Ten in 2021 and potentially 2022. Georgia hasn’t always been a fixture, though they are the reigning champions. Alabama is set to miss its first playoff barring a miracle, as is Clemson.

That allows teams like the Texas Christian Horned Frogs and Southern Cal Trojans to make their first appearances. It won’t matter if they lose their conference championship games because they’ll likely be in a 12-team playoff regardless. That’s where the beauty in the playoff lies.

Expansion isn’t the only thing that’ll change. The revenue shares will be split among leagues with teams, which is certainly a play for Power Five leagues to benefit.

Here’s a look at other ways an expanded College Football Playoff will impact the sport.

Roster Construction

In the era of name, image, and likeness, that changes the game as far as roster construction goes. A top player can go to a smaller school and get a bigger slice of the pie than they would on a stacked team, as Alabama has enjoyed. If a player goes to Nebraska, they could become the face of the state with no professional football team.

Access to the playoff for every team, regardless of the conference, opens up these opportunities even more. It should balance the top talent as opposed to them going to the same handful of teams – Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Georgia – who make the playoffs on a near-yearly basis.

Players can go to college towns where they’ll be superstars and appreciated. That balances the game and can allow for parity within conferences.

The one-time transfer rule also allows teams to reload their rosters quickly. If a certain player doesn’t develop, rather than waiting to give a high school kid a shot, grabbing a player from a rival school is fair game, like Cade McNamara leaving Michigan for Iowa between the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

Collective Agreement

Speaking of name, image, and likeness, players can profit in various ways. Instead of making great social media pages, a commercial allows players to benefit from who they are. Take Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen, on several commercials across Wisconsin.

Social media plays a big part in NIL, which banned a Central Florida kicker because he was profiting off his YouTube page, now stars of all sports – Miami Florida’s Cavinder twins play women’s basketball, gymnast Olivia Dunne is a star at Louisiana State, and other sports have benefitted as well – can make money for their creativity of creating content.

Those who enjoy playing video games can also host their communities on YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook and profit via subscriptions, donations, and more. It’s a great way to engage communities, too.

Then there is apparel. Many athletes have launched their own apparel lines and are making money off them. Athletes can have their faces on merchandise, whether tee shirts, hats, jewelry, or other items.

The other element is university collectives, where big boosters can spend their money on athletes. This time it is above the table as they no longer have to hide it since it isn’t against NCAA rules. But the athletes need to provide some sort of work to earn the dollars, hence the commercials and other advertisements.

All in all, the expanded playoff is going to open a lot of doors for coaches, players, and programs to crown new champs.