College Football Playoff expansion remains unsettled as committee eyes 12-team field in 2024 – CBS Sports

  • October 21, 2022

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DALLAS — This week, one member of the College Football Playoff Management Committee was asked via text how close the group was coming to instituting an expanded 12-team playoff for 2024. The official took the question literally.
“About 14 months,” he texted back.
Good one. By now, shorthand is all that’s needed to describe the ongoing grind the committee has undertaken in trying to get playoff expansion ramped up and ready in time for the 2024 postseason.
There was progress (again) but no resolution (again) as the committee — comprised of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick — met Thursday to discuss the feasibility of starting an expanded playoff a year or two before the end if the CFP’s current deal in 2026. Time is running out.
“Progress is being made,” said CFP executive director Bill Hancock after the meeting. “Will we get there? I don’t know.”
No date has been set for the next meeting. The group has discussed this issue three times since the CFP presidents issued an edict in August to get an expanded playoff done by 2026 at the latest.
At the heart of the remaining hurdles is whether to play the 11 playoff games during the business week, head-to-head against the NFL or a blend of both scheduling strategies. CBS Sports last month took a deep dive into how scheduling an expanded CFP would potentially create conflicts with Week 18 of the NFL season and the NFL Playoff.
“Some of it is a combination of the NFL season has expanded,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said “We’re discussing expanding our playoff. There are more games. There is more inventory.”
The board is struggling with additional conflicts as it comes to playing first-round games on campuses, namely final exams and fall graduation. For example, the published final exam dates for both Alabama and Notre Dame would potentially conflict with first-round games played on campus. Per CFP guidelines, 2024 first-round games could not begin until Thursday, Dec. 19. Alabama’s finals run Dec. 13-19, while Notre Dame’s finals are set for Dec. 16-20.
“That’s on my mind, very much on my mind,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. Hancock added that the first round would need at least two days to complete with eight teams playing four games.
Unwinding and reworking existing deals with CFP bowl sites is another problem. “We’re having to, in essence, make changes to our deals with all of our [bowl partners],” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said.
Both the 2025 (Atlanta) and 2026 (South Florida) CFP National Championship sites can be moved to later in January if expansion is approved, Hancock said. Still, the commissioners remain stymied by trying to stuff more postseason college football in December and January than ever before.
Still, that’s only one resolved issue in the grander scheme. Here we are again waiting for the rest to be figured out.
After this long, though, what’s a few more weeks — or months?
It took the sport 129 years to get a two-team playoff (BCS, 1998) and 16 more to reach a four-team field (CFP, 2014). At some point soon, we will have a 12-team playoff. The question that remains is whether it will be in 2024, 2025 or 2026.
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