NCAA Loophole Gives Oregon State, Washington State Easy Path To CFB Playoff As Last Remaining Teams In Pac-12

Oregon State and Washington State path to College Football Playoff
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Oregon State and Washington State were left to fend for themselves after every other school in the Pac-12 left for the Big Ten, ACC or Big 12. Only the Beavers and Cougars remain.

While the outlook on their conference future is grim, the next two years could prove to be very profitable. A unique NCAA loophole gives Oregon State and Washington State a very easy path to the College Football Playoff in 2024 and 2025.

It could, and will, be an issue come 2026. In the meantime though, there is actually more incentive for the last two Pac-12 schools to sit tight and wait out their next move than scramble to find a new home.

NCAA bylaws give Oregon State and Washington State a grace period.

The NCAA requires a conference to have at least eight members. As of right now, starting next year, the Pac-12 has just two.

However, the NCAA grants a two-year grace period for a conference to get back to the eight team number. Thus, when Oregon, Washington, USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado bounce for their new conferences in 2024, the two-year clock begins for the Pac-12.

Oregon State, Washington State and the Pac-12 will have 2024 and 2025 to figure it out.

College Football Playoff expansion gives the Pac-12 an advantage.

At the same time, beginning in 2024, the College Football Playoff will expand to 12 teams. The field will comprise the selection committee’s six highest-ranked conference champions and its next six highest-ranked teams.

There are 10 conferences on the FBS level:

  • American
  • ACC
  • Big 12
  • Big Ten
  • Conference USA
  • MAC
  • Mountain West
  • Pac-12
  • SEC
  • Sun Belt

Presumably, the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC champions will make the 12-team CFP field. That leaves the American, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West and Pac-12.

The Pac-12 is allowed to exist with less than eight teams in 2024 and 2025. As of now, Oregon State and Washington State will be the only two teams.

Thus, either the Beavers or Cougars will be the Pac-12 champions.

How can OSU and WSU make the CFP?

Whichever school comes out on top in the Pac-12 must be ranked higher than all but one of the conference champions from the American, CUSA, MAC, Sun Belt or Mountain West. Should that happen, by rule, the Pac-12 champion would make the CFP.

Basically, Oregon State and/or Washington State could make their own schedules in 2024 and 2025, finish as one of the six highest-ranked conference champions, make the CFP and keep all of the money that is paid to the two-team conference. It is a loophole that sets them up to stall, and stall hard.