The new format will begin in 2026 but the governing body has directed the College Football Playoff Committee to try to implement the expansion sooner, after the 2024 or 2025 season.
“More teams, more participation and more excitement is good for our fans, alumni and student-athletes,” Mark Keenum, the President of Mississippi State and the chairman of the College Football Playoff Board of Managers.
“I thank my colleagues on the board for their thoughtful approach to this matter and for their determination to achieve expansion across the finish line and for the extensive work of the Management Committee that made this decision possible.”
The four-team playoff format began during the 2014 college football season following decades of the Bowl Championship Series in which two teams were selected to play in a bowl game designated as the national championship game.
Keenum continued, “I’m very pleased that we were able to achieve this and I’m looking forward to expansion happening. The four-team playoff was very popular and successful. I believe that this new format will be even more popular and successful.”
The board, a group of 11 university presidents and chancellors, said the field will be the six conference champions ranked highest by the selection committee and the six other top-ranked teams.
The four highest-ranked conference champions will receive a bye for the first round.
The eight other teams will play four first-round games — No. 12 seed at No. 5 seed, No. 11 seed at No. 6 seed, No. 10 seed at No. 7 seed and No. 9 seed at No. 8 seed .
Four quarterfinal games and two playoff semifinal contests would be played as bowls, with the host sites different each year.
The national championship game will be at a neutral site. The scheduled host for the 2025 game capping the 2024 season is Atlanta and the 2025 season title game will be played in Miami.
Starting the new format after the 2023 season was already ruled out, Bill Hancock said in a teleconference.
He said it’s likely the date of the national title game in the new format will come later than in the current finals.
“We have another two rounds of a tournament to play over the current two rounds, so there will be four rounds, of course, and the way we look at it now, it would be difficult to squeeze all that in and still finish on the dates we’re playing now,” he said
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said officials with his league were extremely pleased with the expansion news.
“We have been strong proponents of the 12-team playoff model, including the six highest-ranked conference champions, since it was initially proposed by the College Football Playoff Task Force last June, and I am pleased to see that the Board of Governors of CFP. unanimously supported this model,” he said.
Pac-12 officials said the expanded field is “the right thing for our student-athletes and fans.”
Georgia is the defending Division I Football Bowl Subdivision national champion, entered the final as the No. 3 seed after losing its conference championship game.