Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; A view of the CFP Trophy before the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Washington Huskies at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to their respective schedules, the NFL and college football often do their best to avoid each other.

So much so that when New Year’s Day falls on an NFL regular-season Sunday, bowl games are typically willing to wait a day longer than usual for their annual showcase.

But with the College Football Playoff expanding from four teams to 12 — and thus, three games to 11 — such conflicts are going to become increasingly difficult to avoid. And the two sides are already looking at a major one later this year, with the College Football Playoff set to host three first-round games on Dec. 21, a day the NFL had targeted as a late-season Saturday showcase.

But while the College Football Playoff announced its inaugural 12-team schedule nearly a year ago, the NFL is doing its best to get the entity to reconsider. And while it’s unlikely the CFP will completely overhaul its first-round schedule, according to Puck News’ John Ourand, the league is hopeful that it will move at least one of its Saturday games.

“Sources tell me the NFL knows that it’s unlikely the CFP will move all three games off of that Saturday,” writes Ourand. “Its new tactic is to convince CFP to move at least one of those games from Saturday to Friday. (There is already a game on Friday, and this would allow for two games on each day.) This appears to be the most likely scenario, but it will be fascinating to watch this game of Vulcan chess play out.”

Having already announced its schedule, the ball is ultimately in the CFP’s court.

While hosting two games on a Friday might not be ideal, it’s certainly doable and, more importantly, preferable to facing direct competition from the NFL. The CFP’s current schedule calls for one evening game on Friday, Dec. 20, but it could easily find a way to make room for two night games that don’t overlap, especially if one of them is on the West Coast.

Conversely, if the CFP doesn’t play ball, it will be interesting to see how the NFL reacts. Would the league merely adjust and avoid the competition? Or would the NFL feel even more inspired to go head to head against the CFP and let the chips fall where they may?

As Ourand alludes to, the safe bet is on a compromise. While their relationship might not be official, the NFL and college football are effectively partners and both sides would be best served to minimize direct competition against each other.

But the more intriguing income would be for the CFP to call the NFL’s bluff. Not only to see how the league would respond, but what the ultimate outcome of the potential head to head showdown would be.

[Puck News]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.