The method would rid the annual selection process of some of the most painful omissions, including the odd Power Five winners who miss the four-team playoff, and the so-called Group of Five schools among the Power Five, whose best teams have struggled for playoff spots with often unbeaten records hampered by weaker schedules.
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“Great day,” Mike Aresco, the commissioner of one of those Group of Five leagues, the American Athletic Conference, wrote in a text message, noting that “12 team, 6-6 is the model we wanted. Gives us access if we deserve it.”
Under the four-team concept over eight seasons, the ACC has missed a total of just once (in 2021), the Big Ten twice, the Big 12 four times and the Pac-12 six out of eight times. The SEC has reached all eight playoffs, including two with two teams.
The new format will launch in 2026, once the current 12-year contract expires, but another committee, the College Football Management Committee, may investigate the expansion for the 2024 or 2025 season. That committee is made up of the 10 conference commissioners plus Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick.
Under the model issued by the board of directors, the four highest-ranked conference champions would receive a first-round bye. That will make for eight round one matches at campus locations in December, with the higher seed hosting each game. The quarter-finals and semi-finals would take place at the venues of renowned bowl games, with those names, while the final would take place at a chosen neutral venue, as now happens with the four-team format.
“This is a historic and exciting day for college football,” Mississippi State president and chairman of the Board of Managers, Mark Keenum, said in a statement.
It came 15 months after a four-member panel recommended a 12-team playoff, similar to the method approved Friday, eight months after three conference commissioners at the time expressed doubts about expansion and seven months after an 8-3 vote lifted the notion. stalled. Even in January, amid a stalemate and frustration at the standoff, Pac-12 commissioners George Kliavkoff and ACC Jim Phillips publicly charged that an agreement would be reached. Kliavkoff stressed that decision-makers had time. Phillips said “In year 13” we will have an agreement, I am sure.”
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They joined the Big Ten’s Commissioner Kevin Warren in opposing the green light, and their reasoning varied. The ACC found the timing to be hectic amid other changes in the sport, such as NIL, the transfer portal, and the revision of the NCAA constitution in January. The Pac-12 was concerned about keeping the excellence of the Rose Bowl within any framework. The Big Ten wanted a method where all conference champions would qualify automatically, even if they had some losses that typically disqualified from the four-team playoff, which has never featured a team with more than one loss.
The idea of playoff expansion has sparked chatter since about 15 minutes — or maybe 14 — after the start of the current system in 2014, when the elongated system of determining champions eventually moved from a championship game to the four-team bracket. Expansion was kick-started in June 2021, when the four-member working group advocated a 12-team method consisting of six conference champions and six major teams. The four men, who had spent two years studying the possibilities, were Bob Bowlsby, then the commissioner of the Big 12; Greg Sankey, then and now the SEC Commissioner; Craig Thompson, then and now the Commissioner of the Mountain West; and Swarbrick of Notre Dame. It didn’t include any of the three conferences that would forgo meetings next winter, and it made its ideas known publicly, perhaps angering some others.
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All the while, the Pac-12 stated that it preferred all six models weighed in last winter. On Friday it expressed its “strong support for the extension of the CFP” for its “improved access and excitement” and “looked forward to working with our fellow conferences to finalize the important elements of a comprehensive CFP to to get started, as practically as possible.”
The ACC stated that it was “clear from the outset that it supports expansion” and called the decision of the Board of Managers “welcome”, while stating: “Our cooperation over the past six months will serve us well as we discuss important details for the prime minister in college football event.”
The Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 announced an alliance of common interests in August 2021, but by June 2022, the Big Ten had poached Southern California and UCLA from the Pac-12 to extend their membership to 16 schools from coast to coast. as reshuffling continues to determine which teams the conferences can represent.