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The Future College Football Power 2 Playoff

Updated: Jan 5

Major MAJOR changes are eminent in college football. I laid out my thoughts on that in these two articles.




The NCAA is having its convention 1/10/24- 1/13/24. We may seem some of these changes way more quickly than even I expected.


Here is another radical change that is coming (probably in 2026), and most are not even considering. The 12-Team College Football Playoff will be broken before it arrives. There is going to be a war on representation.

Conference realignment is going to fuel this war. A look at the final CFP standings illustrates the looming problem.

CFP Standings

Twelve of the top thirteen ranked teams play in the SEC and the B1G. If the CFP wants to have the best twelve teams in the playoff (their communicated goal this year), all but one of those teams would be from those two conferences.


Conference realignment is going to make this issue worse.

  • Florida St., the ONLY non-SEC/B1G member in the top teams, has made it clear that they intend to exit the ACC.

  • Rumors surround us that Clemson will soon make similar declarations.

  • North Carolina is believed to be the one program that both conferences covet the most. Politics in North Carolina have made it clear that UNC and NC State are likely a package deal.

  • If those four go, Miami and Virginia and Virginia Tech may beg to be part of the exodus to the SEC and B1G.

  • Oregon State (and Washington State) likely to be part of a Pac and Mountain West merger with Group of 5 status.


Put all of those together and seventeen of the top 22 and ALL of the top thirteen will be playing in the "Power 2." The gulf in competition is likely to get even worse. Twenty-four of the top 30 teams in the On3 consensus recruiting rankings will play in the Power 2 in 2024. Who are the other six?


Miami - 6th - rumored to be a SEC/ B1G expansion possibility

Notre Dame - 10th - fiercely independent

Florida State - 11th- announced they intend to fight to be able to leave the ACC

Clemson- 13th- expecting an announcement soon

Texas Tech- 21st- the ONLY Big 12 team

North Carolina- 28th- the most valuable realignment target


So, most of the non- Power 2 teams in the top 30 are teams rumored to be trying to get out of the ACC.


Folks, at the very moment that the college football postseason is being retooled to be more inclusive is the very moment that all true championship competitiveness is being consolidated into fewer and fewer teams.


The Power 5 is dead, and the Power 2 is going to demand things be done the way they want starting with the college football playoff. There is no turning back.


The current rules for the CFP award a bye to the top four conference champions. If the current rankings held in a 2024 conference alignment, this means that #2 Washington and #4 Alabama WOULD NOT have a bye; and #5 Florida St. (not an issue) and #14 Arizona (a huge issue for the Power 2) would. If Florida State is not in the ACC, then #15 Louisville would get the second bye. Do this for two years and the SEC and B1G are going to demand change. Radical change.


Here is what I expect will be the demand from the B1G and SEC. The Power 2 will argue that their program's schedules are far more rigorous than what teams in the other conferences face.


Here are some example questions. Who is better:

  • Oregon (the 2024 alignment ranked FOURTH B1G team) or Arizona or Louisville?

  • Missouri (the 2024 alignment ranked FOURTH SEC team) or Arizona or Louisville?

  • Penn State (the 2024 alignment ranked FIFTH B1G team) or Arizona or Louisville?

  • Ole Miss (the 2024 alignment ranked FIFTH B1G team) or Arizona or Louisville?


Under the current format Arizona and Louisville would get byes (assuming FSU leaves the ACC) and Penn St. and Ole Miss would miss the playoff. One can argue they finished fifth. Do you understand WHY the CFP committee was talking the BEST teams in the playoff yet?


The SEC and B1G are going to reset the college football community to the best teams argument.


I believe the Power 2 are going to lobby for something like the table to the right.


future CFP

The SEC and B1G are going to demand that they get the byes- two each. They would propose the ACC and B12 champion get the #5 and #6 seeds. The third highest B1G and SEC teams will be seeded #7 and #8. The SEC and B1G teams will be seeded to prevent intraconference matches as shown. The #9 and #10 seeds will be allocated the top Group of 5, Independent, second ACC team, or second B12 team (where they will likely lose to the #7/#8 B1G/SEC seeds). A group of 5 team will be required to get one of these seeds. The #11 and #12 seeds will be allocated to a fourth representative from the SEC/B1G or second or third teams from the B12/ACC.


I allocated the #9 and #10 seeds to the other teams to facilitate the alignment to prevent intraconference matches until the semifinals. Frankly, #11 and #12 seeds coming from the SEC or B1G- Oregon and Penn St. for 2024- are probably better than the #5 and #6 coming from the B1G and ACC. The SEC/ B1G will set the bracket up in this manner to likely make almost ALL of the quarterfinals' teams be members of the Power 2 (and the financial benefit of going deeper in the CFP).


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How would this look like if one applied the 2024 conference alignment (FSU still in ACC) to this 12-team setup. I have put the 2024 date and bowl alignments below if the table above is unclear.


First Round

  • #5 FSU (ACC1- Home) vs. #12 Oregon (B1G4)

  • #6 Arizona (B121- Home) vs. #11 Missouri (SEC4)

  • #7 Ohio St. (B1G3- Home) vs. #10 Oregon St. (G5)

  • #8 Georgia (SEC3- Home) vs. #9 Louisville (ACC2)

Quarterfinals

  • Rose Bowl- #1 Michigan (B1G1) vs. Georgia/ Louisville winner

  • Sugar Bowl- #2 Texas (SEC1) vs. Ohio St./ Oregon St. winner

  • Fiesta Bowl- #3 Washington (B1G2) vs. Arizona/ Missouri winner

  • Peach Bowl- #4 Alabama (SEC2) vs. FSU/ Oregon winner

Semifinals

  • Orange Bowl- Rose winner vs. Peach winner

  • Cotton Bowl- Sugar winner vs. Fiesta winner

Finals

  • National Championship- Orange winner vs. Cotton winner


If this were the playoff seeding, I think it would be the greatest event in the history of college football.


Question- will the college football world align to Power 2 playoff structure? That would require the leadership of the non-Power 2 conference to accept the reality of the status of competitiveness in college football. I have my doubts.


Here is the ultimate trump card in this discussion. What if the SEC and B1G refuse to accept the playoff structure and go it alone in 2026 with playing each other?

Power 2 CFP

Which would you rather watch the B1G/ SEC tournament above or the non-B1G/ SEC tournament below?

Non Power2 CFP

I don't think there is any debate. Therefore, I think the SEC and B1G will get what they want.


I KNOW fans of the non-Power 2 conference do not want to hear this. The truth is 2023 was just the beginning of a competitive gulf that is going to get wider and wider as the SEC and B1G get all of the best players in recruiting and portal transfers.  Fans of the ACC, Big 12, and other programs in college football that believe they are only one great QB away from competitiveness are not dealing with the realities on college football in 2024 and beyond.


Among all of the college football changes coming, perhaps this sort of Power 2 alignment of the future playoff will be the most difficult to accept.




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