IRVING, Texas — The College Football Playoff Management Committee began work on Thursday to implement a 12-team playoff as early as the 2024 season, but a sense of progress and togetherness has also been tempered by a schedule accelerated which he hopes to meet this fall.
“The focus is on the schedule,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said. “Our minds are very focused because we know we have to make it happen. And I think the goal would be to make it happen, but who knows.”
The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick met in a small meeting room at DFW airport for about 4 1/2 hours, their first discussions since the 11 presidents and chancellors who control the playoffs have voted unanimously last week to expand the field to 12 teams in 2026. The CFP board has strongly urged commissioners, who have been unable to agree on a format since the initial proposal was announced in June 2021, to do so sooner if possible.
“I even feel better coming out of the meeting than I came in, and I was positive going into the meeting,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said. “But we have a lot of experienced people and we have common goals and it was a very productive meeting. So I’m very happy with where we are and yet we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot to do.”
CFP executive director Bill Hancock said while there is no exact deadline, they hope to have an answer this fall. The current contract runs through the 2025 season, and the CFP announced in mid-August that Atlanta will host the national championship game in 2025, followed by Miami in January 2026.
While CFP officials have laid out the hurdles to such a sudden move — locations, hotels and TV contracts — there’s an estimated $450 million in gross revenue if commissioners can roll out the new format for the final two seasons. .
ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said they were discussing each year – 2024, 2025 and 2026 – at Thursday’s meeting, but was “optimistic”.
“We had four or five really good calls in a row,” Phillips said. “It hasn’t been something where we’ve deviated, so that means we’re all trying to figure out how to do this thing. So there’s a lot of energy in the room. There’s a lot of optimism, but this are the details. The devil is in the details and the work that needs to be done.”
The commissioners and Swarbrick are scheduled to meet again this month at the Big Ten offices in Rosemont, Illinois. When asked how confident he is of a 12-team field for 2024, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said, “there are still several steps to go.”
“There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of parts,” Thompson said. “…So it won’t be for lack of effort, no matter what.”
Team rankings will continue to be determined by the CFP Selection Committee, which will remain largely unchanged. The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four, with each receiving a first-round bye. Teams ranked 5-12 will face off in the first round on the second or third weekend of December. The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played in bowl matches on a rotating basis, and the championship game will be played at a neutral site, as in the current four-team format.
On Saturday, before Georgia and Oregon kicked off the season in Atlanta, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey expressed doubts about the start of a 12-team playoff before the 2026 season.
After Thursday’s meetings, he acknowledged that was a possibility.
“A lot of work to do,” Sankey said, “but the opportunity is there.”