College Football Playoff To Expand To A Dozen By As Early As 2024, But Most Likely 2026

It’s all happening.

The 11-member College Football Playoff Board of Managers voted unanimously Friday afternoon on a video call to go from the present four-team-playoff format to 12 teams as early as 2024, the College Football Playoff office in Irving, Texas, announced Friday.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart after winning the College Football Playoff Championship. (Getty Images)

The new 12-team system will most likely not begin until the 2026 regular season “unless earlier implementation is possible” a College Football Playoff release (CFP) said.

Six of the 12 will be the highest ranked conference champions. The other six will be the highest ranked teams not among the first six. The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded No. 1 through No. 4 and receive a first round bye.

The Board of Managers, which is made up of university presidents and chancellors, had grown tired of waiting for the College Football Playoff Management Committee (10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick) to increase the number of playoff teams to a more equitable 12 and rushed up this vote.

Now the Board of Managers is telling the Management Committee of commissioners, including the Southeastern Conference’s Greg Sankey, to “assess the possibility” of beginning the 12-team playoff as early as 2023 or 2024. Commissioners from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten are among the others on that committee.

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“This is an historic and exciting day for college football,” said Mississippi State president Mark Keenum, who is chairman of the Board of Managers. “More teams, more participation and more excitement are good for our fans, alumni, and student-athletes.”

The four-team playoff began in the 2014 season. The current CFP contract expires after the 2025 season.

More College Football Playoff games is likely going to mean more television networks involved with FOX, CBS and NBC expected to try to join ESPN.

“The four-team playoff has been highly popular and successful,” Keenum said. “I believe this new format will be even more successful.”

The members of the Board of Managers are Keenum (SEC), Western Kentucky president Timothy Caboni (Conference USA), Clemson president Jim Clements (Atlantic Coast Conference), West Virginia president Gordon Gee (Big 12 Conference), Troy president Jack Hawkins (Sun Belt Conference), Notre Dame president John Jenkins (Independent) Ohio State president Kristina Johnson (Big Ten Conference), Washington State president Kirk Schulz (Pacific-12 Conference), Buffalo president Satish Tripathi (American Conference), SMU president Gerald Turner (American Athletic Conference) and UNLV president Kieth Whitfield (Mountain West Conference).

The College Football Playoff Board Approved The Following:

  1. The 12 teams will be the six conference champions ranked highest by the selection committee (no minimum ranking requirement), plus the six highest-ranked teams not included among the six highest-ranked conference champions.
  2. The ranking of the teams will continue to be done by a selection committee whose size, composition, and method of selection will remain substantially unchanged. The College Football Playoff Management Committee will modify the selection protocol as required by the change to the playoff structure.
  3. The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will receive a first-round bye.
  4. The other eight teams will play in the first round with the higher seeds hosting the lower seeds either on campus or at other sites designated by the higher-seeded institution (No. 12 at No. 5, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7 and No. 9 at No. 8.)
  5. The model allows for first-round games to be played on either the second or third weekend in December in a way that best accommodates the format and the participating teams, with at least 12 days between the conference championship games and the first-round games. The Management Committee would make the final determination of the calendar.
  6. Subject to reaching agreement with bowls, the four quarterfinal games and two Playoff Semifinal games would be played in bowls on a rotating basis.
  7. The national championship game will continue to be played at a neutral site.
  8. Subject to reaching agreement with bowls, the four highest-ranked conference champions will be assigned to quarterfinals bowls on selection day in ranking order, and in consideration of current contract bowl relationships if those bowls are selected for the rotation. For example, if the Pac-12 champion were ranked #1, the Big Ten champion were ranked #3, and the Rose Bowl were a quarterfinal site, the Pac-12 champion would be assigned to the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten champion would be assigned elsewhere.
  9. With the four highest-ranked champions assigned to quarterfinal games in bowls, the opponent from first-round game winners will be assigned by the selection committee based on the bracket.
  10. The higher seeds would receive preferential placement in the Playoff Semifinal games.
  11. First-round games will not have title or presenting sponsors and existing venue signage will remain in place. The CFP will control the video boards.

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Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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