College Football Playoff expansion could be coming, and it may be even bigger than anticipated, with the current proposal calling for a 12-team field. That expands the field significantly, but as currently proposed, has one big downside for one of the nation’s biggest programs: Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish have made a pair of four-team College Football Playoffs, including this past season. Assuming the Fighting Irish stay on their current trajectory, they can expect to make many more with the 12-team set-up, though their current status as an FBS Independent may turn into a negative.
In the 12-team set-up, the four highest-ranked conference champions would get byes through to the quarterfinals. That means that Notre Dame would not be eligible for one of those coveted spots.
Last season, due to COVID-19 axing much of the non-conference college football schedule, Notre Dame fully joined the ACC for a season, and wound up making a run to the ACC Championship and College Football Playoff. The arrangement was a good experience for everyone involved, but Notre Dame has always resisted joining a league. It is unclear whether this could be enough to change that.
As an independent, Notre Dame would not be eligible for a first-round bye. Irish would have to survive four playoff games to win a national championship. https://t.co/5LqPdfrk3E
— David Teel (@ByDavidTeel) June 10, 2021
After the collapse of the Big East football league, and the conference’s split into the current Big East and AAC, Notre Dame moved its non-football sports into the ACC. They also play at least five ACC games per season, facing teams on a rotational basis.
Notre Dame previously proved it could land in the top four as an Independent, when there were significant questions about whether the Fighting Irish would be able to get it done without the chance to play in a conference championship. Now, access to the Playoff will be much easier, but making a run from the 5-12 seeds could prove pretty challenging.
We’ll see if this is finally the thing that changes Notre Dame’s thinking. New ACC commissioner Jim Phillips has to have his fingers crossed, as adding Notre Dame would be a giant win that could help the league close some of the financial gap with the Big Ten and SEC.