Rekindling College Football Expansion Talks: Friday’s Meeting Could Create More Field by 2024

Frustrated with the leadership of the FBS commissioners, the College Football Playoff Board of Directors will meet Friday with the goal of adopting an expanded playoff class once the 2024 season, CBS Sports has learned. The category will likely be expanded to 12 teams under the main proposal, which is the original concept that was brought to the attention of stakeholders from the CFP working group in June 2021.

The vote must be unanimous by 11 members of the Board of Directors. If enacted, the expansion will likely double access to the playoff from the current four teams. The 11-member board includes university CEOs representing each of the 10 FBS conferences, as well as Notre Dame president John Jenkins. Mississippi President Mark Keenum told ESPN earlier this year that presidential intervention could come as soon as next summer.

Apparently, the schedule has been raised.

The commissioners failed in their attempt to reach consensus on a long and drawn-out process that stretched into 2020 and into February 2022. That’s when the CFP officially announced that expansion talks were dead. The assumption then was that the extension of the supplement would have to wait until at least 2026 when the current deal with ESPN expires.

There is still widespread support for CFP media rights to come out to many bidders. If the expansion takes place in 2024, ESPN will still have the rights to all games for the last two years of a 12-year deal. Sports Illustrated first reported about the approaching CFP meeting.

If the expansion is approved on Friday, the playoff will move to at least 12 teams, according to one person involved in the process. However, this source left the door open for a 16-team playoff to be considered by the body.

A 12-team playoff was valued at $1.2 billion annually, up from $600 million currently.

A sub-committee of commissioners developed a 12-team tranche that was positively received in June 2021. The model included six automatic qualifiers—six of the conference’s top-ranked champions—and six senior teams. This will likely be the format adopted if the expansion rests on 12 teams. The sources said such a category could be adopted as a short-term placeholder with a future expansion to 16 teams if the board agrees to increase the field.

Asked if the presidents could achieve the required unanimous vote, a person familiar with the process said, “I don’t think we have any choice.”

“We realized we had lost control of the narrative as bosses,” the person continued. “We will actually proceed with certain standards ourselves.”

The board will only approve the expansion as a concept. It will then be up to the Commissioners who make up the CCP Management Committee to oversee implementation. One of the main questions remaining is whether the CFP can find enough gaming sites (maybe on campus for early round games) and put in place logistics such as hotel rooms, training facilities, etc. in a short period of time. While these are still significant hurdles, many sources believe they could be resolved 28 months before the first extended playoff.

“My general response is, if people are willing [to do it]”Anything can happen,” said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson.

Thompson was one of four original stakeholders in that working group that designed the 12-team class along with Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Greg Sankey and former Big 12 Commissioner Bob Paulsby.

During a meeting on the day of the CFP National Championships on January 10, commissioners for the ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 voted against the expansion, scuttling the idea. The final total was 8-3 to support the expansion, but again, a unanimous vote was required. A source in the room said the board of directors largely expected the commissioners’ vote to be sealed that day, but was surprised by the number of issues still in the works.

A presidential source expressed frustration at not getting the “response” from the commissioners that was necessary to move forward with the expansion. Since the official process of expansion began in 2019, four of FBS’s 10 commissioners have changed – Brett Yorkermark (Big 12), Kevin Warren (Big Teen), George Kliavkov (Bac 12) and Jim Phillips (ACC).

CFP recently announced the locations for the 2025 (Atlanta) and 2026 (South Florida) championship matches. These locations will not change if expansion is approved.


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