The Board of Directors of the College Football Playoff voted unanimously on Friday to expand the CFP to 12 teams by 2026, but is encouraging the Stewards to implement it as soon as possible by 2024.
The board’s 11 presidents and chancellors approved the original 12-team model, which includes the six highest-ranked conference champions and six major teams, the board announced Friday.
“This is a historic and exciting day for college football,” Mississippi state president Mark Keenum and chairman of the CFP board of directors, said in a statement. “More teams, more participation and more excitement are good for our fans, alumni and student athletes. I am grateful to my colleagues on the board for their thoughtful approach to this issue and for their determination to get expansion across the goal line and for extensive work by the executive committee that made this decision possible.”
The ranking of the teams is still determined by the selection committee of the CFP, which remains largely unchanged.
The four highest-ranked conference champions are seeded from one through four, with each receiving a first-round bye. Teams of five to twelve play each other in the first round on the second or third weekend of December. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played in bowl games on a rotating basis and the championship game will be played in a neutral venue, as in the current four-team format.
The 12-team model was originally put together by SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Swarbrick, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, and former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. It was launched publicly in June 2021, but got bogged down in conference politics. In February, the CFP announced it would not extend its current contract, which expires after the 2025 season.
The major robbery was specific objections from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12. But after the lightning bolt of reshuffle this summer that saw USC and UCLA commit to the Big Ten and that conference signing a landmark television deal, those leagues’ problems began to fade into the background.
Two weeks ago, the CFP board issued an unannounced call, discussing expansion and the possibility of a 12-team play-off amid the structure of the current contract. That manifested itself Friday afternoon, a milestone in sport, on the eve of the formal start of the football season on Saturday.
“The Pac-12 strongly supports the expansion of the CFP and welcomes the decision of the CFP board,” the Pac-12 said in a statement Friday. “Expanding the CFP brings greater access and excitement and is the right choice for our student-athletes and fans. We look forward to working with our fellow conferences to finalize the important elements of an expanded CFP to to start as soon as possible.”
It could take weeks or months to work out the possibility of a 12-team playoff in 2024 or 2025. a powerful motivator for change.