The board announced Friday that the college football playoff board of directors has unanimously approved the expansion of the current four-team playoff format to include 12 schools.
The new format is set to begin in 2026, but the board has tasked the college football management committee with trying to implement the expansion earlier, after the 2024 or 2025 season.
“More teams, more participation, and more excitement is good for our fans, alumni, and student-athletes,” Mark Keenum, Mississippi State President and Chairman of the College Football Board of Directors.
“I am grateful to my colleagues on the Board of Directors for their thoughtful approach to this issue, their insistence on expansion across the target line, and the extensive work of the Management Committee that made this decision possible.”
The format for four-team matches began during the 2014 college football season decades after the Bowl Championship Series in which two teams were selected to play in a bowl game designated as the national championship contest.
Keenum continued, “I am very happy that we were able to make this happen, and I am looking forward to expanding. The four-team playoff was very popular and successful. I believe this new format will be even more popular and successful.”
The board, which is made up of 11 university presidents and chancellors, said the field would be the conference’s six top-ranked champions by the selection committee and the other six top-ranked teams.
The four highest-ranked Conference Champions will bid farewell to the first round.
The other eight teams will play four first-round matches – seeded 12th for fifth, 11th for sixth, 10th for seventh and ninth for eighth.
Four quarter-finals and two semi-final playoffs will be played as bowls, with the host locations varying each year.
The National Championship match will be at a neutral venue. The scheduled host of the 2025 game crowned the 2024 season is Atlanta, and the 2025 season title match will be held in Miami.
The start of the new format after the 2023 season has already been ruled out, college football chief executive Bill Hancock said on a conference call.
He said that it is possible that the date of the national title match in the new format will come later than in the current play-off match.
“We have two more rounds of the tournament to play over the current two, so there will be four rounds, of course, and the way we’re looking at it now, it’s going to be hard to squeeze all of that out and we’re still done on the dates we’re playing now.”
Mike Aresco, commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, said officials in his league are very pleased with the news of the expansion.
“We have been strong proponents of the 12-team playoffs model, including the six top-ranked Conference Champions, since it was initially proposed by the College Football Playoff Working Group last June, and I am pleased to see that the CFP Board of Directors unanimously endorsed this model.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark tweeted It was a great day and the larger stadium will increase the interest of the fans and will focus more on the regular season.
Pac-12 officials said expanding the field is “the right thing for student-athletes and fans.”
Georgia is the defending Division I Football Association for the sub-championship, having entered the playoff as the No. 3 seed after losing the Conference Championship match.
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