College Football Playoff board won't vote next week on proposed 12-team format

The College Football Playoff board, made up of 11 chancellors and presidents, has the power to alter the playoff. Next week, they will not vote on the proposed 12-team format. This further delays any major changes to the four-team field.
Original plans for the board to meet with Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and 10 FBS commissioners on Sept. 28 in Rosemont (Illinois) were canceled. After some commissioners raised many issues during a conference call last week, and again on Wednesday at a Dallas meeting, the board decided to keep working before making a recommendation for approval to the presidents.

Swarbrick and the commissioners will meet next week in Chicago, but the presidents of the United States and the chancellors will join them via Zoom for part or all of the meeting.

Swarbrick stated Wednesday that he believes they can keep them informed, and they will decide when they are ready to vote. It's their decision. We felt there were still some issues that needed to be addressed. It would have been important for us address these issues before we made a recommendation or asked them to take action.

The playoff enters the eighth season of a 12-year deal that will run through 2025. It's possible for the format to change before the contract ends.

ESPN would be the first to own any new games if that happens. However, if ESPN declines to buy them, the CFP might take them to open market. According to sources, a majority of commissioners would like to have multiple television partners. However, ESPN must agree to this within the current contract.

Bill Hancock, CFP executive director, told ESPN Wednesday that there is no hurry to make the next move.

Hancock stated that "we have the time" because, if we wanted to change it in 2024 we would have a few more months. We have several years to make changes in 2026 if we want. There is no set time frame. The presidents will decide, but there is no hurry.

The CFP's board meeting of managers will be held in January. This is when the chancellors and presidents meet annually at the national championship games.

Sources familiar with the discussions say there is interest in an eight-team model but not unanimous support.

When asked about the eight-team format, Swarbrick stated that "the support for expansion" was evident. "I believe the focus will be on issues surrounding the 12-team format."

These obstacles are still there: concerns about the academic calendar and the postseason happening during December final exams. There are also worries about student-athletes' health. Rose Bowl's request to sell its television rights and keep its game on January 1 is a significant sticking point. The media rights to the Rose Bowl's semifinal or quarterfinal games would be owned by the CFP.

Mike Aresco, American Athletic Conference commissioner, said that his league remains "strongly supportive of" the 12-team format.

Aresco stated that there are still many issues to resolve and that it takes time. "I hope we can eventually get to 12. Because of the balance between automatics and at-larges, I believe 12 is the right number. This one has the greatest chance of pleasing the entire group. However, that's just my opinion.

Current proposal is to have the bracket include each year the six highest-ranked conference champions and six other highest-ranked teams, as determined by the selection board. There would be no automatic qualification for a conference and no limit to the number of participants.

The four conference champions with the highest ranking would be seeded from one to four. Each would also receive a bye in the first round. Teams seeded five to 12 would then play each other on the home turf of the higher-ranked team. The proposal would see the semifinals and quarterfinals played in bowl games. As in the current format, the championship game would still be played at a neutral location.

Speedbumps were created this summer after Oklahoma and Texas joined the SEC. Commissioner Greg Sankey was part of the CFP's four person working group which ultimately decided that the 12-team model was the best.

Since June, when the commissioners and presidents last met to discuss the 12-team format that had received more support, the collegiate landscape has changed significantly.

Sankey stated that a 12-team format allowed the six conference champions to access the national championship playoff. It also gives access to the six remaining best teams, who are not conference champions.

While we may long-term consider that four teams can work, in order to have a healthy national sports, a national championship is necessary, I am still convinced there is a lot to be learned from the 12-team approach. While I am open to other people's ideas and the discussion, I have not yet been able to say, "Hey, this is when I believe this change will occur. I don't think it will."