The College Football Playoff’s Board of Managers voted Friday to expand the playoff field to 12 teams and fans had a lot to say about it. The unanimous vote is an important first step in pushing the playoff beyond the current four-team format.
The proposed model grants automatic bids to the six highest-ranked conference champions, gives first-round byes to the four highest-ranked champions and completes the field with six at-large selections.
The board has approved the new format to be utilized beginning with the 2026 season, though it hopes that it can be implemented earlier, perhaps as soon as the 2024 campaign.
“This is an historic and exciting day for college football,” said Mark Keenum, chairman of the CFP Board of Managers chairman and president of Mississippi State. “More teams, more participation and more excitement are good for our fans, alumni, and student-athletes. I’m grateful to my colleagues on the board for their thoughtful approach to this issue and for their resolve to get expansion across the goal line and for the extensive work of the Management Committee that made this decision possible.”
Among the measures approved by the CFP board Friday:
- 12-team bracket: Six highest-ranked conference champions (no minimum ranking requirement), plus next six highest-ranked teams
- Rankings system: CFP Selection Committee will continue to determine weekly rankings with criteria to be reevaluated
- Bracket placement: Four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded 1-4 with first-round byes; four highest remaining seeds will host lower seeds at sites to be determined
- Scheduling: First-round games will be played at campus sites on either the second or third weekend in December, at least 12 days after conference championship games
- Bowl relationship: Quarterfinal and semifinal games will be played at rotating bowl sites subject to agreements being reached; national championship will continue being played at neutral sites; existing conference relationships with bowls will be considered for game placements