The College Football Playoff (CFP) will consider expanding from four teams to a 12-team format, it was officially announced on Thursday.
The 12-team format proposal was submitted to the full College Football Playoff management committee by a sub-group of the CFP management committee. The sub-group consisted of Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson, and Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick.
“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the members of the four-person working group said in a statement. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”
Under the proposed 12-team format, the four highest-ranked conference champions would receive the top four seeds and would also receive a first-round bye (Note: this would exclude Independents such as Notre Dame and BYU). The remaining seeds, seeds five through 12, would play each other at the home stadium of the higher seeded team. Below is a look at the complete first-round format:
- No. 1 Seed – Bye
- No. 2 Seed – Bye
- No. 3 Seed – Bye
- No. 4 Seed – Bye
- No. 12 Seed at No. 5 Seed
- No. 11 Seed at No. 6 Seed
- No. 10 Seed at No. 7 Seed
- No. 9 Seed at No. 8 Seed
Quarterfinal and semifinal round games would be incorporated into the bowl games, while the College Football Playoff National Championship would remain at a neutral site.
The proposal calls for the bracket each year to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the six highest-ranked other teams as determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee. No conference would qualify automatically and there would be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.
“This is a very exciting moment for college football,” the working group members said in the statement. “We think we can capture what student-athletes and fans love about the game and extend it to more people in more places, while enhancing what’s great about the regular season.”
If the 12-team format is ultimately approved, it will not be adopted for the 2021 or 2022 season, according to the statement. The current CFP agreement extends through the 2025-26 season.
“Now that the working group has presented its proposal, the management committee will solicit input from university presidents, coaches, athletics directors, student-athletes and others,” Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the CFP, said. “That input will help inform what the management committee recommends to the ultimate decision-makers — the presidents and chancellors who serve on the board of managers. I do want to remind you that the final decision will be made by the board of managers, and that decision will not come before this fall.”
Below are additional elements of the working group’s proposal:
- While the playoff calendar is still to be worked out, broadly this is the recommendation:
- First-round games would take place on campus sometime during the two-week period after conference championship games;
- Quarterfinals would be played on January 1—or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday—and on an adjacent day;
- Semifinals and championship game dates are to be determined; semifinals likely will not be played as a doubleheader.
- The playoff bracket would follow the rankings, with no modifications made to avoid rematches of teams that may have played during the regular-season or are from the same conference;
- The bracket would remain in effect throughout the playoff (i.e., no re-seeding);
- The working group’s charge did not include deciding which bowls might be a part of the CFP in the future; however the group did recommend that if traditional bowls host games, teams would be assigned to their traditional bowls for quarterfinal games with priority going to the higher-seeded team;
- All 11 games would be under the CFP umbrella, with the administrative specifications and the process for selecting the six bowls that would rotate as hosts of the quarterfinals and semifinals still to be determined.