A sub-group of College Football Playoff’s (CFP) management committee today presented a proposal to change the current four-team format to a 12-team event.
The proposal was made to the full CFP management committee and is the first step in a process that will not conclude before this fall.
“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the members of the four-person working group said in a statement. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”
The working group was appointed by their management committee colleagues and has met over a two-year period to discuss possible new formats. The proposal calls for the bracket each year to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the six highest-ranked other teams as determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee. No conference would qualify automatically and there would be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.
The four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded one through four and each would receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 would play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 would host #12; team #6 would meet team #11; team #7 would play team #10; and team #8 would meet #9.) Under the proposal, the quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games. The championship game would continue to be at a neutral site, as under the current format.
The four members of the working group (Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson, and Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick) presented their recommendation today during a virtual meeting of the full management committee that administers the CFP.
The CFP management committee members are Mike Aresco, commissioner, American Athletic Conference; Bob Bowlsby, commissioner, Big 12 Conference; Keith Gill, commissioner, Sun Belt Conference; Judy MacLeod, commissioner, Conference USA; Jim Phillips, commissioner, Atlantic Coast Conference; Greg Sankey, commissioner, Southeastern Conference; Larry Scott, commissioner, Pacific-12 Conference; John Steinbrecher, commissioner, Mid-American Conference; Jack Swarbrick, athletics director, Notre Dame; Craig Thompson, commissioner, Mountain West Conference; Kevin Warren, commissioner, Big Ten Conference.
The next step in the process is for the 11-member management committee to review the recommendation at its upcoming meeting in Chicago June 17-18.
If the management committee endorses the 12-team proposal or reaches consensus on an alternative model or decides to retain the current format, it will forward a recommendation to the CFP board of managers, which will meet June 22 in Dallas.
Members of the CFP board of managers include Eric Barron – Big Ten Conference (President, Penn State); Rodney Bennett – Conference USA (President, Southern Mississippi); Jim Clements – Atlantic Coast Conference (President, Clemson); Gordon Gee – Big 12 Conference (President, West Virginia); Jack Hawkins – Sun Belt Conference (President, Troy); Rev. John Jenkins – President, Notre Dame (Independent); Mark Keenum (chair) – Southeastern Conference (President, Mississippi State); Kirk Schulz – Pacific-12 Conference (President, Washington State); Satish Tripathi – Mid-American Conference (President, Buffalo); R. Gerald Turner – American Athletic Conference (President, SMU); Keith Whitfield – Mountain West Conference (President, UNLV).
During the board’s June 22 meeting, it will review the recommendation from the management committee and decide whether to authorize feasibility assessments and potentially discussions with other entities that would allow for implementation of any altered format.
If the board authorizes this summer study period, the board would meet again in September to review the results of the summer assessments and also the input from presidents, athletics directors, coaches, student-athletes and others.
Any decision on changing the format would be made by the board.
“This is a very exciting moment for college football,” the working group members said in the statement. “We think we can capture what student-athletes and fans love about the game and extend it to more people in more places, while enhancing what’s great about the regular season.”
Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the CFP, said, “Now that the working group has presented its proposal, the management committee will solicit input from university presidents, coaches, athletics directors, student-athletes and others. That input will help inform what the management committee recommends to the ultimate decision-makers — the presidents and chancellors who serve on the board of managers. I do want to remind you that the final decision will be made by the board of managers, and that decision will not come before this fall.”
The date of implementation of a potential new format was not a part of the working group’s proposal and would be a matter considered if any recommendation is approved by the board of managers. Hancock said the format will not change this year or next year. The current agreements for the four-team CFP extend through the 2025-26 season.
Other elements of the working group’s proposal included the following:
- While the playoff calendar is still to be worked out, broadly this is the recommendation:
- First-round games would take place on campus sometime during the two-week period after conference championship games;
- Quarterfinals would be played on January 1—or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday—and on an adjacent day;
- Semifinals and championship game dates are to be determined; semifinals likely will not be played as a doubleheader.
- The playoff bracket would follow the rankings, with no modifications made to avoid rematches of teams that may have played during the regular-season or are from the same conference;
- The bracket would remain in effect throughout the playoff (i.e., no re-seeding);
- The working group’s charge did not include deciding which bowls might be a part of the CFP in the future; however the group did recommend that if traditional bowls host games, teams would be assigned to their traditional bowls for quarterfinal games with priority going to the higher-seeded team;
All 11 games would be under the CFP umbrella, with the administrative specifications and the process for selecting the six bowls that would rotate as hosts of the quarterfinals and semifinals still to be determined.