After successful Year 1, what will Year 2 bring?

Eight league games or nine league games, conference championship game or not -- come as you are for Year 2 of the College Football Playoff.

The first season of the playoff was compelling and exciting because it was as shiny and new as its trophy, and as unpredictable as a freshman quarterback. Everyone was learning the system.

We still are.

Here's what we know: The selection committee puts enormous emphasis on winning a conference championship.

Here's what we don't know: If the Big 12 will miss out on the playoff because it's missing a conference title game.

Here's what we know: Ohio State could lose to Virginia Tech and still win the national title.

Here's what we don't know: If the Buckeyes can win their opener in Blacksburg, Va., without four suspended players.

We know a committee of 13 people will determine the top four teams in the country on Dec. 6, but how we get to that point -- and which Power 5 conference will be left out -- remains the beauty of the sport. With only four teams in the field, and a cloak of secrecy surrounding every committee member but chairman Jeff Long, there is still plenty of anticipation entering the second season of the College Football Playoff.

We have Urban vs. Harbaugh. We have an SEC West race that could feature an entire lineup of top-25 teams. We have a surging Pac-12 conference that has closed the gap with the SEC as the two premier conferences in college football, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. We have endless drama in the Big 12, where "one true champion" TCU and Baylor have become national brands and their snub from the top four created a great debate throughout the offseason.

Most importantly, we have a playoff system that works.

"Right now," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, "it's the best system we have."

The CFP has managed to expand the field to four while at the same time preserving the integrity of the regular season and the bowl games. Ask just about any coach, commissioner or athletic director in the country and he will tell you how vital that is for the good of the game, and how much of a priority it was when studying different models for the playoff.

They looked at eight. They looked at 16. They settled on four. Get used to it.

"College football has never been more exciting and popular than it is right now," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "Let's not mess it up."

There's a reason fans aren't going to see many changes to the playoff this fall -- because every single one of the 10 FBS commissioners learned a lesson about knee-jerk reactions from the BCS system: Be patient.

"The BCS was impossible to keep up with," Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "I do this for a living and I had no idea what was going on week-to-week in that thing."

This is a 12-year contract, and we're officially one year into it. One. You don't change tires after one lap or buy new sneakers after one mile.

The Big 12 should get a round of applause for not panicking this summer and hastily sending anyone and everyone invitations to join the conference. For all of the talk about the Big 12 being left out of the playoff, ESPN's FPI predicts the ACC will be the Power 5 conference on the outside in 2015. What if Georgia Tech would have beaten Florida State in the ACC title game last year? What if the Big Ten championship game was even close? TCU or Baylor -- heck, maybe both -- might have gotten in.

(If Oklahoma and Texas were as good as their brand name, the entire conversation would be moot.)

Conference title games can either knock a team out of the playoff, or boost it in. If current NCAA rules are loosened and deregulation passes -- which is expected -- the Big 12 could host its own title game as early as 2016 without the drastic measure of adding any more teams to the league. Only, of course, if it wants to, and not even everyone within the conference can agree on that right now.

"With the schedule we have, I like it the way it is," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.

"I'd like to see us be a 12-team conference with two divisions and a championship game," K-State's Bill Snyder said.

To the other Power 5 coaches who say everyone should be playing a conference championship game?

"Everybody should be playing nine conference games," deadpanned Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. "That would be my response."

Here's what it takes to get into the playoff, based on what we learned from 2014: wins against ranked opponents (aka strength of schedule) and winning a conference championship. It's not cracking the Da Vinci code. It's winning games against great teams and finishing on top.

That's a formula that's never going to change.

What you WILL see different this fall: two new selection committee members in Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt and former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson. The semifinal games will be played on New Year's Eve in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic and the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The biggest playoff adjustment will be in your New Year's Eve plans.

Only when there is a major controversy will we see major change. If the Big 12's spot on the bubble becomes permanent, then a conversation about expansion becomes valid. If the SEC is left out of the playoff? It expands faster than Alabama writes checks to Nick Saban.

For now? The only thing this sport needs is for the playoff to finally start -- again.