If an agreement on a new format can't be reached soon, Bowlsby says expanding the College Football Playoff as soon as the 2024 season is in some jeopardy.
Bowlsby told reporters that the chances of implementing a new format before the current 12-year agreement ends are waning.
A proposal to expand the playoff from four to 12 teams could not be reached at a meeting of the management committee, made up of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director.
Bowlsby said that year 11 is probably in some jeopardy because there are good and appropriate things to do in order to host the games.
It's possible that we wouldn't be able to do it for year 12 and we'll be talking about what to do in year 13 and beyond. There are no contracts that bind us beyond 25-26, he said.
The proposal for a playoff that would need approval from the university presidents and chancellors who oversee the CFP is currently being considered by the management committee.
The next meeting of the Commissioners and the Presidents is in Indianapolis around the national championship game in January.
The next iteration of the playoff may not need the approval of the Group of Five conferences, if the group is starting to look beyond the current agreement.
I don't think it's necessary for 11 people to say yes to a solution that would benefit college football. If we find a solution, we can focus on whether or not we can also get to that solution for'24 and 25'.
I think you start by asking what the group that needs to agree on a model is. We can invite the rest to join us. It's just a different way of thinking about who gets to make a decision about what the model looks like.
Bowlsby said full consensus is needed to expand before the contract ends. "There is no next contract after 2025."
Bowlsby said the group could start from scratch on a new model if the expansion attempt fails.
I think that a lot of the work that the working group did will be a basis for that, because we did a fairly thorough vetting on virtually any model you can name. He said that it's likely to be the underpinning of it.
One of the stumbling blocks to expansion is which conferences have automatic access for their champion.
Kevin Warren was the first Big Ten commissioner to come out in support of guaranteeing access for the highest ranked champion from the five other conferences.
"I'm a big believer in the automatic qualification for the Big Ten conference and the other Power Five conferences," Warren said this week.
The proposal put forth by Bowlsby included recommendations for the six highest-ranked conference champion from all 10 conferences to be included in the playoff.
Automatic access is preferred by the Group of Five conference commissioners, most notably Mike Aresco from the American Athletic Conference.
Sankey still favors the six-best-champions model. Bowlsby explained one of the reasons the group avoided automatic access.
Bowlsby said that the extent to which we get called before Congress or challenged legally is the extent to which we anoint ourselves in the privileges. There are good reasons why we proposed six highest-ranked conference champions.