It looks like there is a good chance the College Football Playoffs (CFP) will expand soon. With that expansion will come an increase in opportunities for bettors to put money down on their favorite teams. But does that mean those teams will have more of a shot at winning it all as they do now?
Nope, not even a little bit.
There is a good reason why the BYUs, UCFs, Cincinnati, and the Pac-12 have not had much of an impact on the college football playoffs. Simply put—they were not good enough. Handing them a ticket to the playoffs is not going to miraculously turn a good team into an excellent one worthy of a shot at the national title.
So, as far as the national championship picture is concerned, CFP expansion will have little to no impact. But is that true for sportsbooks as well?
Yes and no.
Is It Worth Betting On A Longshot To Win The National Championship?
Under the 12-team expansion proposal (the Power Five conference champs, one Group of Five conference champ, and six at-large bids), teams like Cincinnati and other Group of Five standouts will get a shot at the national championship.
When that happens, it will not be hard to justify putting $10 down on Cincinnati to win it all. Will they? Probably not. But on the off chance that they do, with their current odds (+8000), that $10 will become $800.
Is the unlikely but possible payout worth the risk? Many will say yes and gladly put down a small wager on a longshot. If the team gets lucky, it could win the national title.
But has it happened before? Yes, yes it has.
This season, outside of the top five teams, the preseason national championship odds are long (+2800 – +50000 at DraftKings) for everyone else. Of the last 20 national champions, three have had odds that fall inside that range– LSU in 2003 (+4000), Auburn in 2010 (+5000), and Ohio State in 2014 (+4000).
Ohio State is the only one during the CFP Era—which means it can happen.
The possibility of a longshot winning will encourage people to bet. But the reality that it likely will not happen will keep the wagers small. The number of bets may be high, but the handle will probably be relatively low.
Impact Of CFP Expansion On Sportsbooks
From the futures standpoint, the impact of expansion will be minimal, at best. The possibility of a longshot winning will get fans excited and betting, but the likelihood will keep bets small. Until an underdog takes down Alabama and plays in the title game, it will be hard to believe it can happen.
However, sportsbooks will benefit in two other ways. Those who take bets on whether a team makes the playoffs will see an increase in action. But the more significant impact will come from the additional eight playoff games.
There has been no talk on how the playoff games will be worked into the bowl game system (if at all). It would not be shocking if existing bowl games were just turned into playoff games. The added significance to the game will increase the betting interest on what would have otherwise been just another bowl game.
Will CFP expansion impact sportsbooks? Yes, but like the national title picture, not in a significant manner.