College Football Playoff expansion talks reignite: Friday meeting could create bigger field as soon as 2024 – CBS Sports

College Football Playoff expansion talks reignite: Friday meeting could create bigger field as soon as 2024 - CBS Sports

Frustrated by the leadership of FBS commissioners, the College Football Playoff Board of Governors will meet Friday with the goal of adopting an expanded playoff bracket as soon as the 2024 season, CBS Sports has learned. The bracket is likely to expand to 12 teams under the lead proposal, which was the original concept put before stakeholders by the CFP working group in June 2021.

The vote must be unanimous by the 11 members of the board. If realized, expansion would likely triple access to the finals of the current four teams. The 11-member board includes university CEOs representing each of the 10 FBS conferences, plus Notre Dame president John Jenkins. Mississippi State president Mark Keenum told ESPN earlier this year that the presidential intervention could come as soon 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 that stretched through 2020 and into February 2022. That’s when the CFP officially announced expansion negotiations were dead. The assumption then was that 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 to multiple bidders. If an expansion is put in place in 2024, ESPN would continue to have the rights to all games for the final two years of a 12-year deal. Sports Illustrated first reported the approaching CFP meeting.

If the expansion is approved Friday, the playoffs would move to at least 12 teams, according to one person involved in the process. However, this source left the door open for a 16-team final to be considered by the body.

A 12-team playoff was valued at $1.2 billion annually, up from the current $600 million.

A subcommittee of commissioners developed a 12-team bracket that was favorably received in June 2021. The model included six automatic qualifiers—the six highest-ranked conference champions—and six at-large teams. That would likely be the format adopted if expansion relies on 12 teams. Such a bracket could be adopted as a short-term placeholder with future expansion to 16 teams if the board agrees to increase the field, sources said.

Asked if the presidents can reach the required unanimous vote, a person familiar with the process said, “I don’t think we have any choice.”

“We realized we had lost control of the narrative as presidents,” the person continued. “We ourselves will actually proceed with certain parameters.”

The board would only approve expansion as a concept. Then it would be up to the commissioners who make up the CFP Management Committee to oversee the implementation. One of the key questions remaining is whether the CFP can find enough playing fields (perhaps on campus for early round games) and put in place logistics such as hotel rooms, practice facilities, etc. in a short period of time. While those remain big hurdles, several sources believe it could all be cleared with 28 months until the first expanded final.

“My answer generally is if people want to [to do it]anything can happen,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said.

Thompson was one of the original four stakeholders part of that task force 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.

During a meeting the day of the CFP National Championship on January 10, the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 voted against expansion, thus discarding the idea. The final tally was 8-3 in support of expansion, but again, a unanimous vote was required. A source in the chamber said the Board of Managers had largely expected to seal the commissioners’ vote that day but was surprised by the number of issues still being worked on.

A presidential source expressed frustration at not getting the “response” from the commissioners that was needed to move expansion forward. Since the formal process for expansion 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 sites for the 2025 (Atlanta) and 2025 (South Florida) championship games. Those sites will not change if expansion is adopted.

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