College football will move to a 12-team playoff, perhaps as soon as the 2024 season, the College Football Playoff board of managers announced Friday.
The CFP has been a four-team tournament since its inception following the 2014 season.
“There are still quite a few issues that have to be resolved, but our hope is that we can move on this as quickly as it is possible to do so,” said Mississippi State president Mark Keenum, chair of the board of managers. “We have asked our commissioners, the management committee, to explore the possibility of us beginning the 12-team playoff format before the 2026 season, in either 2024 or 2025.”
The 12 teams in the revamped playoff will be the six highest-ranked conference champions and the six highest-ranked at-large teams.
“This is an exciting day for the future of college football,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “The 12-team playoff creates more access for teams and conferences across the country to compete in college football’s championship event.”
The College Football Playoff originally was set up as a 12-year contract set to expire after the 2025 season, and Friday the committee of 11 college presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to increase the field. The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick are scheduled to meet next week in Dallas to discuss expansion plans.
The current format matches the No. 1-ranked team vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in semifinal games that rotate annually among six bowl games: Cotton, Fiesta, Peach, Orange, Sugar and Rose.
The 12-team plan had been discussed in the summer of 2021, but never got out of the CFP committee, which announced in February that the playoffs would not be expanding until after the 2025 season. Since then, with Southern California and UCLA leaping from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten starting in 2024, the Pac-12, ACC, and Big 12 had shown increased interest in an expanded playoff.
“The Pac-12 is strongly in favor of CFP expansion and welcomes the decision of the CFP Board,” the Pac-12 said in a statement Friday after last summer voting to block the expansion as conferences bickered over the automatic-berth format.
Keenum emphasized that “having only four teams” was simply not offering enough access to the playoff.
“We do recognize the additional revenues that will be available,” he said, “but that hasn’t been the driving force behind this ultimate decision.”
This season’s CFP championship game is scheduled to be played Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.
–Field Level Media