We did it!

On what College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock described as an “historic day” in college football, the CFP’s board of managers unanimously voted Friday to expand the CFP to 12 teams as late as 2026 and as soon as 2024.

It truly feels like a win for all of us.

Well, maybe not for SEC and Big Ten fans who bid goodbye to a near-monopoly of the four-team format.

But for those of us who wanted a bigger, better, broader, fairer postseason tournament, we’re finally getting what we wanted after watching the CFP flirt with expansion for months.

And for Pac-12 fans who have watched five consecutive winters go by without a playoff berth, this news is especially sweet. Not only should the league get one playoff team on a regular basis, but it will contend for two — and sometimes — even three spots.

Here are the three reasons the Pac-12 might just be the biggest winner in all this.

1. Does this stave off expansion?

Way back in what feels like 1988 — June of this year — the college football community was rocked to its core with the defection of both USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.

Could this news prevent the conference from any more major expansion, at least for the moment?

That’s the prevailing thought, at least among many college football reporters.

The reason is two-fold.

First, with the Pac-12 currently negotiating its next TV rights deal, the league ostensibly should command greater dollars knowing that at least one team will likely be heading to the postseason tournament. Will that be enough to make up for the loss of the league’s top market to the Big Ten? No. But it won’t be insignificant.

“Revenue, sure, there’s going to be more revenue,” Hancock said in a conference call with reporters. “We all know that. There’s four new days, four new games. This will be an 11-game event versus a seven-game event. But the board’s thrust was on participation, the increased participation, more opportunities for student-athletes, and more opportunities for people all around the country to grow this great game. The board really did focus on the participation.”

That participation is the key for the Pac-12, because the path to participation is filled with less obstacles than in the looming super-conferences.

Might an Oregon or a Washington decide it would rather tangle with the Colorados and Arizona States of the world than the Ohio States and Michigans?

2. The path to glory

It’s been years — a half dozen, in fact — since the Pac-12 warranted even one CFP team, much less two. Last year, the conference’s top team, Utah, entered bowl season with three losses. No CFP top-four team had more than one.

Same thing in 2018: a 10-3 Washington team was left out in favor of three undefeated programs (Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame) and one-loss Oklahoma.

It took one-loss seasons from the Huskies in 2016 and Oregon in 2014 to give the conference its only two CFP representatives. We’re talking zero margin for error here.

But here’s the thing: The difference between first and second place in the Pac-12 hasn’t been all that big.

In 2019, Oregon was No. 6 in the CFP standings and Utah was 11th. Both would’ve gotten in under the upcoming structure. In 2017, USC finished 8th and Washington 11th, a year after three schools — Washington (ranked 4th), USC (9th), Colorado (10th) — likely would’ve made a 12-team field. And from 2008-2014, the conference had two schools in the top 11 every year.

By expanding from four up to 12 schools, multiple spots will be up for grabs for each Power 5 conference. Giving automatic bids to the six highest-ranked conference champions will make the league feel pretty secure come selection time.

3) All eyes on me

With a playoff drought of five years, even the cream of the conference crop could not sell potential recruits on appearing in college football’s biggest showcase games. If you’re Oregon or USC, you can tell young recruits that they can be the ones to break the curse. But if you’re Alabama, you’re telling those kids to pack their bags for New Year’s day about two years in advance.

Several top recruits in the Pac-12 footprint have absconded to the greener pastures of the SEC and Big Ten in recent years, in large part because of the platform afforded to playoff-bound teams. SoCal quarterbacks in particular have cited a desire to compete at the highest levels and for the highest prizes as reasons for them abandoning their local schools.

Getting a shot at an expanded field is now a realistic talking point for Pac-12 coaches, and in some ways, those coaches can sell the path of least resistance. Who’s got a better shot at getting into the playoffs: a one- or two-loss Pac squad or a three- or four-loss Big Ten team?