Expansion of the College Football Playoff is gaining momentum, and not just in a small way.
The current four-team setup could become a 12-team bracket in the coming years.
A College Football Playoff management subcommittee that includes Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has written a proposal for a 12-team format that will be considered by Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners later this month.
Under the proposal, the four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded 1-4 and receive a first-round bye. Teams 5-12 would play each other on the home field of the higher-ranked team.
The quarterfinals would be played Jan 1 or Jan. 2. The semifinals would be played at bowl sites and the championship game at a neutral site, just as it occurs now in the four-team playoff.
The 12-team field would include the six highest-rated conference champions and six at-large spots.
No changes to the current system will happen this year or for 2022, CFP executive director Bill Hancock told The Kansas City Star. The current media rights contract with ESPN runs through 2025-26 and is worth about $608 million annually.
According to the proposal: “No conference would qualify automatically and there would be no limit on the number of participants from one conference.”
The proposal will be discussed June 17-18 at a meeting of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. If the group agrees on a model, it would go to the CFP board of managers — 11 presidents and chancellors — at a June 22 meeting in Dallas for approval.
“This is a very exciting moment for college football,” the working group members said in a 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 format had been in place last season, the top four seeds would have been Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. First-round games would have been Coastal Carolina (12) at Notre Dame (5), Indiana (11) at Texas A&M (6), Iowa State (10) at Florida (7) and Georgia (9) at Cincinnati (8).