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College football is shaking up its playoff bracket for 2024

College Football Playoff officials will introduce a 12-team playoff bracket for the 2024 season, expanding from the current four-team format.

College football is shaking up its playoff bracket for 2024
Tony Gutierrez / AP
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It is impossible to say the words "College Football Playoff" without controversy. This time of year always brings out the couch quarterbacks who say their team got snubbed.

This year, it was Florida State: an undefeated conference champion who was not considered a top-four team after starting quarterback Jordan Travis got hurt in late November. The injury caused 29 players on the team to opt out of its bowl game against Georgia — either to transfer to another school or enter the NFL draft — as the Seminoles got rolled by the Bulldogs 63-3.

But that wasn't the only controversy. It seemed everyone had an opinion on this year's top four teams. Would Georgia get a shot at the national title after losing only one of its last 30 games? What about perennial Alabama, who handed Georgia that one loss? Or would it be Texas, who beat Alabama earlier in the season?

Next year, the four-team playoff system will expand once more — this time to a 12-team playoff.

The top four teams will get a first-round bye into the quarterfinals, and college football will suddenly resemble something more similar to what the NFL has — a single-elimination tournament that includes 12 teams.

College Football Playoff final set after 2 thrilling matchups
College Football Playoff final set after 2 thrilling matchups

College Football Playoff final set after 2 thrilling matchups

Michigan and Washington will play in their first true national championship games. Both programs' last national titles were considered "split."

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In college football, the new system will allow programs that haven't had a legitimate shot at the crown — like 11th-ranked Tulane, for example — a chance to win it all.

Tony Barnhart has been covering college football as a columnist for 47 years. He says the new format will help schools, not just on the field, but off it as the expanded playoffs expand the number of relevant programs recruits will want to consider.

"It's going to be significantly different in that a guy can say 'I don't have to go to name-your-powerhouse-program — whatever it is,'" Barnhart said. "'I don't have to go there if I want to go to the College Football Playoffs. I can go here.' And I think that and the transfer portal has spread out the talent."

But it wasn't just the College Football Playoffs that stole the headlines: This was the third season that NIL deals were a major talking point as they allowed players to make millions of dollars off their name, image, and likeness.

Shadeur Sanders, Arch Manning, and Caleb Williams all make north of $2.5 million annually. It was also the year of Coach Prime, whose Colorado Buffaloes stormed onto the national scene with a 3-0 start after going 1-11 last year. Then, just as quickly as they had gained steam, they cooled off — winning only one of their final 9 games.

It was a year of triumph, of heartbreak, of what-ifs. What-if Jordan Travis didn't get hurt? Would Florida State have made it to the college football playoff? Would they have won it?