The College Football Playoff is officially expanding to 12 teams in 2024, and I couldn’t care less. This should be an exciting moment, the advent of a month-long extravaganza that will allow college football to crown a true, controversy-free national champion, and instead it feels like the worst fears of the BCS defenders have been realized, that college football has been turned into something unrecognizable, a big-money corporate cash grab not much different from the NFL instead of the tradition-filled pastime it once was. Granted, it’s been a corporate cash grab for a lot longer than the purists are willing to acknowledge, and becoming more so was probably pretty much inevitable so long as communities without professional teams invested the local college team with the level of importance of a pro team, but it still feels like the sport is becoming a shadow of its former self.
The last piece of the puzzle to put the CFP expansion in place was the Rose Bowl effectively being browbeaten into effectively being forced off its traditional New Year’s Day date on a regular basis (something that already happened every four years in the early days of the BCS before the creation of a separate national championship game) by college football’s poobahs setting a deadline for the Rose to fall in line. As much as the Rose Bowl might not like it, it will likely now be at its most relevant and most retain something close to its status as the “Granddaddy of them All” when it’s not played on New Year’s Day, when it serves as a semifinal instead of a quarterfinal. It probably can’t really be guaranteed its traditional Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup, but with USC and UCLA moving to the Big Ten that tradition probably wasn’t much worth keeping anyway. Any way you slice it, the Rose Bowl as we know it is dead, and with it, as I explained at the start of the season, is much of what people liked about college football as it existed.
And as I said at the end of that post, we could have avoided all this if the biggest names in college football had taken a step associated with perhaps the biggest sort of cash grab of all.