What Does 12-team playoff mean for Michigan and the rest of College Football?

Michigan football will always be the last champion of the four team playoff but let's look ahead at the format of the new 12-team playoff and how it could affect the Wolverines.
Michigan National Championship Celebration
Michigan National Championship Celebration / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

Whether you like it or not, the 12-team playoff era is officially upon us. I personally am excited to see what the new format brings. I love the history of college football but I am ready to start new traditions and this is going to create some unforgettable games. Let's take a deep dive into the decision process for who is going to make it, where the games will be played, and how seeding will work.

First, let's look at automatic bids and at-large teams. The top four seeds will go to the four highest-ranked conference champions. The top five conference champions are guaranteed a berth (pending approval), plus the seven-highest-ranked teams, based on the committee's ranking, will all receive at-large bids.

The top four teams will receive a bye week and teams 5-12 will play a first-round game hosted at the higher-seeded team's home stadium. The first round will undoubtedly bring us some great matchups. We will see some SEC teams traveling to Big Ten stadiums playing in snow games and we will see Big Ten teams traveling to the heart of the SEC trying to prove conference superiority.

Those are just two examples of all the unique types of games this new playoff is going to bring us. This is the most exciting part of the expanded playoff for two reasons. First, we are going to get top-tier college football teams from power conferences facing off against each other on a yearly basis.

All of the trash talk that happens between conferences will finally get settled on the field. There will be no excuses because of opt outs or teams "not caring" because it's a meaningless bowl game.

It will be two teams pulling out all the stops to win a playoff game and advance one step closer to a national championship. Secondly, we have never seen a college football team host a playoff game and I can't wait to see the atmosphere on a college campus for it. The quarterfinals and semifinals will rotate between the six bowls consisting of the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Cotton Bowl.

Now that we have twelve teams, that means we won't have another Florida State situation where a team feels slighted about being left out, right??

As Lee Corso would say, NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Let's look at the 2023 college football season as an example of how things are going to get controversial with the current system in place. Liberty football finished this past season with a regular season record of 12-0 and then capped it off with a conference championship win over New Mexico State to move to 13-0.

If we were already using the 12-team format, Liberty would have been in the playoff. They were 13-0 conference champs, so they deserved it, right? Their bowl game resulted in a 45-6 drubbing handed out by the Oregon Ducks. This is where I believe people are going to quickly become tired of the 12-team model. Big Ten and SEC teams are going to play an absolute gauntlet of a schedule year in and year out. Take Michigan's 2024 schedule for example. They play Texas, USC, Washington, Oregon, and Ohio State along with the rest of their Big Ten opponents.

If Michigan football loses two close games to Texas and Ohio State, and Liberty goes undefeated through an easy Conference USA schedule, does that make Liberty the better team? I don't think so and that's the part of the new system that I do not think a lot of fans realize yet. Bill Parcells was once famously quoted saying "You are what your record is". That may be true in the NFL but it most definitely is not the case when it comes to college football in 2024.


Overall, I believe the 12-team playoff will be a positive change for college football. There will be bumps and bruises along the way that will eventually be ironed out, but I think it will be a good thing for the sport in the long run. Do not be mistaken though, there will still be controversy when it comes to picking the 12 teams.