The College Football Playoff will expand to 12 teams


Committee meetings on College Football Playoff expansion reached a milestone Friday when the 11-member board of managers overseeing the event unanimously agreed to expand the long-discussed playoff spots from four to 12. than the 2026 season.

A panel of 11 university presidents or chancellors from within 10 major conferences and Notre Dame voted in a virtual meeting Friday. It favors a four-round playoff model with the six highest-ranked conference champions by the College Football Playoff selection committee, then the six highest-ranked teams other than those conference champions.

This system will rid the annual selection process of some of its most painful flaws, including the Power Five, where four teams missed the playoffs, and the odd-man-out conference winners from the Power Five named as a group of five schools below the Power Five. , top teams that battled for playoff spots with often undefeated records hampered by weak schedules.

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“Good day,” Mike Aresco, commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, one of the five leagues, wrote in a text message.

In eight seasons under the four-team concept, the ACC has missed out once (in 2021), the Big Ten twice, the Big 12 four times and the Pac-12 eight times six times. The SEC has reached the playoffs eight times, including twice with two teams.

Once the current 12-year deal expires, the new format will begin in 2026, but allows another group, the College Football Playoffs, to explore an extension for the 2024 or 2025 seasons. That committee consists of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

Under the model proposed by the Board of Managers, the four top-ranked conference champions would receive a first-round bye. That will make eight first-round games at campus sites in December, with each game hosting a higher seed. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held at the sites of famous bowl games, bearing those names, while the final will be played at a selected neutral site, now with a 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 after 15 months A panel of four recommended a 12-team playoff Like the system approved Friday, eight months after three conference commissioners expressed doubts about the expansion at the time and seven months later. An 8-3 vote killed the concept. Even in January, amid the impasse and frustration, Pac-12 commissioners George Kliavkoff and the ACC’s Jim Phillips publicly hoped an agreement would be reached. Kliavkoff emphasized that decision makers have time. Phillips said, “In the year 13 [2026]We will reach an agreement, I am sure.

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They joined Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren in opposing the move, and their reasoning was different. The ACC found its time amid other changes in the game such as the NIL, the transfer portal and the Restatement of the NCAA Constitution In January. The Pac-12 has been saddened to keep Rose Bowl excellence within any structure. The Big Ten preferred a system in which all conference champions were automatically eligible, even if they had multiple losses, and four teams were ineligible for the playoffs, which did not include a team with more than one loss.

After the current system was launched in 2014, the idea of ​​playoff expansion has generated conversation since the 15 minutes — or maybe 14 — in 2014, when the long-standing system to determine champions finally switched from a single championship game to a four-team bracket. Expansion began in June 2021, when a four-member task force recommended a 12-team system with six conference champions and six at-large teams. Four who studied the possibilities on and off for two years were Bob Bowlsby, then commissioner of the Big 12; Greg Sankey, then and now Commissioner of the SEC; Craig Thompson, then and now Mountain West Commissioner; and Swarbrick of Notre Dame. It did not include any of the three conferences that blocked meetings next winter, and it made its views public, perhaps even ranking some.

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Overall, the Pac-12 said it favors all six models weighed last winter. By Friday, it pronounced itself “in favor of CFP expansion” due to providing “increased access and excitement” and “looks forward to working with our peer conferences to launch key elements of an expanded CFP as soon as possible. Feasibility.”

The ACC said it “has been clear from the outset that it supports expansion” and “welcomed” the board of managers’ decision, adding that “our collaboration over the past six months will serve us well and we will address key details for the premier college football event.”

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 announced the alliance Common interests in August 2021, but by June 2022, The Big Ten also hunted Southern California and UCLA Realignment continues to bring its membership from the Pac-12 to 16 schools from coast to coast, which teams can represent the conferences.

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