Why College Football Playoff needs modified system to evaluate contenders amid expansion into 12-team era

When it came to narrowing down the field to four teams in the College Football Playoff race, a popular refrain was, “it will all work itself out” whenever we started to really twist ourselves into knots coming up with chaos scenarios. A decade of evidence from the four-team format has shown that by the end of conference championship weekend, picking the four best teams wasn’t all that difficult. You could take issue with how the committee seeded some of those teams between Nos. 5-12, but the impact of those rankings was relatively light and mostly altered or impacted non-playoff bowl matchups. 

Now, as the CFP field expands to 12 teams beginning in the 2024 season under a 5+7 model, those decisions will determine not only whether a team receives an at-large bid to compete for a national title but also whether a first-round participant will host a CFP game on its home turf or be forced to play an away game. When the CFP tripled the size of the field, it exponentially increased the responsibility of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. 

Deciding on the best teams is difficult

The selection committee has remained firmly committed to its process, and that provides cover when controversy erupts — like Florida State’s exclusion as a 13-0 conference champion last season. The process of voting on each position in the rankings one-by-one is purposeful with its patience. The CFP provides committee members with loads of data and lets them compare teams side-by-side with rounds upon rounds of voting to get through all 25 spots in the College Football Playoff Rankings. 

I turn in a ballot for the CBS Sports 133 — soon to be CBS Sports 134; hello, Kennesaw State! — every week during the season, and deciding on the Nos. 20-35 slots can be the…


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