College Football Playoff expansion talks reignite: Friday meeting could create larger field as soon as 2024


Frustrated with the leadership of FBS commissioners, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers will meet Friday with the goal of adopting an expanded playoff bracket once the 2024 season, CBS Sports has learned. The bracket would likely be expanded to 12 teams under the lead proposal, the original draft presented to stakeholders of the CFP working group in June 2021.

The vote must be unanimous by the 11 members of the board of directors. If passed, expansion would likely triple playoff entry from the current four teams. The 11-member board is made up of university CEOs representing each of the 10 FBS conferences, plus Notre Dame president John Jenkins. Mississippi President Mark Keenum told ESPN earlier this year that the presidential intervention could take place as early as next summer.

Apparently the timeline has been moved up.

The commissioners failed in their attempt to reach consensus on a long, drawn-out process stretching through 2020 and February 2022, when the CFP officially announced that the enlargement talks were dead. It was suspected then that the playoff expansion would have to wait until at least 2026 when the current deal with ESPN expires.

There is still widespread support for CFP media rights to go out to multiple bidders. If expansion is set in 2024, ESPN will still have the rights to all games for the last two years of a 12-year deal. Sports Illustrated was the first to report on the approaching GVB meeting.

If the expansion is approved on Friday, the playoff would be moved to at least 12 teams, according to a person participating in the process. However, that source left the door open for a 16-team playoff for the body to consider.

A 12-team playoff is estimated at $1.2 billion per year, up from the current $600 million.

A subcommittee of commissioners developed a series of 12 teams that were favorably received in June 2021. The model included six automatic qualifiers – the six highest-ranked conference champions – and six major teams. That would likely be the format that will be adopted when the expansion settles to 12 teams. Such a bracket could be adopted as a placeholder placeholder with future expansion to 16 teams if the board agrees to expand the field, sources said.

When asked if the presidents can get the required unanimous vote, one person familiar with the process said, “I don’t think we have a choice.”

“We realized that as presidents we had lost control of the story,” the person continued. “We are actually going to work with certain parameters ourselves.”

The board would only approve expansion as a draft. It is then up to the commissioners who are part of the management committee of the CFP to supervise the implementation. One of the main questions that remain is whether the CFP can find enough game sites in a short time (possibly on campus for early-round games) and realize logistics such as hotel rooms, practice facilities, etc. While these remain major hurdles, several sources believe everything can be resolved with 28 months left until the first extended playoff.

“My reaction in general is, if people are willing [to do it]anything can happen,” said Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.

Thompson was one of the original four stakeholders who were part of that working group to model the 12-team bracket, along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

At a meeting on the day of the CFP National Championship on Jan. 10, the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 voted against expansion, rejecting the idea. The final total was 8-3 in support of the expansion, but again a unanimous vote was required. A source in the room said the board largely expected to approve the vote of the commissioners that day, but was surprised by the number of issues still pending.

A presidential source expressed frustration at not getting the “response” from the commissioners needed to push the expansion forward. Since the formal expansion process began in 2019, four of the 10 FBS commissioners have changed: Brett Yormark (Big 12), Kevin Warren (Big Ten), George Kliavkoff (Pac-12), and Jim Phillips (ACC).

The CFP recently announced the venues for the 2025 (Atlanta) and 2025 (South Florida) Championship Games. Those sites will not change if expansion is adopted.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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