College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams as early as 2024 – The Washington Post

College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams as early as 2024 - The Washington Post

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The stew and a flurry of committee meetings over a possible College Football Playoff expansion found its way to a milestone Friday, when the 11-member board of managers that oversees the event unanimously agreed to a long-discussed expansion of playoffs from four to 12 no later. than the 2026 season.

The board, composed of 11 university presidents or chancellors from the 10 major conferences plus Notre Dame, voted in a virtual meeting held Friday. It favored a model of a four-round playoff featuring the six conference champions ranked highest by the College Football Playoff selection committee, then six at-large teams with the highest rankings other than those conference champions.

The method would rid the annual selection process of some of its most painful omissions, including the odd-numbered non-conference winners of the Power Five who miss the four-team playoff, and the so-called Group of Five schools below the Power Five. , whose top teams struggled for playoff spots with often undefeated 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 to we access if we win it.”

Under the four-team concept through eight seasons, the ACC has missed out overall only once (in 2021), the Big Ten twice, the Big 12 four times and the Pac-12 six times out of eight. The SEC has reached all eight finals, including twice with two teams.

The new format is set to begin in 2026, after the current 12-year contract expires, but allows another committee, the College Football Playoff Management Committee, to explore expansion for the 2024 or 2025 seasons. That committee is composed of the 10 conference commissioners plus Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

Under the model the board of managers issued, the four top-seeded conference champions would receive a first-round bye. That will make for eight first-round games at campus sites in December, with the higher seed in each game serving as host. The quarterfinals and semifinals would be held at the locations of famous bowl games bearing those names, while the final would be held at a designated neutral site, as is the case now with the four-team format.

“This is a historic and exciting day for college football,” Mark Keenum, Mississippi State’s president and the chairman of the Board of Governors, said in a statement.

It came 15 months after a a four-person panel recommended a 12-team playoff similar to the method approved Friday, eight months after three conference commissioners expressed doubts about expansion at the time and seven months after An 8-3 vote left the concept on hold. Even in January amid gridlock and frustration over the impasse, commissioners George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 and Jim Phillips of the ACC reckoned publicly that a deal would come. Kliavkoff emphasized that decision makers had time. Phillips said, “In year 13 [2026]we’ll have a deal, I’m sure.”

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They joined Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in opposing the ban, and their reasoning varied. The ACC found the timing hectic between other changes in the sport such as NIL, the transfer portal and the remaking of the NCAA constitution in January. The Pac-12 was concerned about maintaining within some framework the prominence of the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten wanted a method in which all conference champions would qualify automatically, even if they had a number of losses typically disqualifying for the four-team playoff, which never had a team with more than one loss.

The idea of ​​a playoff expansion has generated chatter since nearly 15 minutes — or maybe 14 — after the current system’s inception in 2014, when the long tattered system of determining champions finally moved from one championship game to the four-team bracket. Expansion began in June 2021, when the four-person task force recommended a 12-team method of six conference champions and six at-large teams. The four men who studied the possibilities between and away for two years were Bob Bowlsby, then the commissioner of the Big 12; Greg Sankey, then and now the commissioner of the SEC; Craig Thompson, then and now the commissioner of the Mountain West; and Swarbrick of Notre Dame. It did not include any of the three conferences that would flounder in meetings the following winter, and it made its ideas public, perhaps unsettling some others.

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All the while, the Pac-12 said it favored all six models weighed last winter. By Friday, it declared itself “strongly in favor of CFP expansion” because of its provision of “increased access and excitement” and looked forward to “working with our fellow conferences to finalize the important elements of an expanded CFP to launch as soon as possible.”

The ACC stated that “it has been clear from the beginning that it supports expansion” and called the decision by the Board of Governors “welcome” while stating, “Our cooperation over the last six months will serve us well as we address the important specifics for the premier. event in college football.”

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 announced an alliance of common interests in August 2021, but before June 2022, the Big Ten swept Southern California and UCLA of the Pac-12 to bring its membership to 16 schools from coast to coast as realignment continues to factor in which teams could represent the conferences.

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