College Football Playoff working group recommends expanding to 12 teams

Georgia football
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 7: The National Championship Trophy during the College Football Playoff National Championship Media Day on January 7, 2017 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

A big step towards the expansion of the College Football Playoff happened on Thursday, as the College Football Playoff working group proposed expanding the College Football Playoff from four teams to 12 teams.

The group, which is made up of SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, put out a statement regarding the decision.

“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the statement said. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”

The four-team model has been in use since the 2014-15 season and is contracted to run through the 2025-26 season. Current College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock has said that no changes to the current set-up will occur until at earliest the 2023 season.

Related: College Football Playoff expansion talk swirling, Georgia would benefit from 12-team model

The group put forth that there will be six automatic bids for the six highest-ranking conference champions and six at-large bids for the next six highest-ranking teams. That doesn’t guarantee every Power 5 champion a berth into the playoff. For example, Coastal Carolina would have qualified under these rules in the 2020 season, as opposed to PAC-12 champion Oregon.

The four highest-ranked conference champions earn byes, while teams seeded 5 through 12 will play first-round games on campus. Independent programs, such as Notre Dame and BYU, are not eligible for a bye. Using the 2020 season, No. 9 seed Georgia would’ve traveled to play No. 8 seed Cincinnati in a first-round game

Some of the other key suggestion put forth by the working group include:

  • First-round games would take place on campus sometime during the two-week period after conference championship games;
  • Quarterfinals would be played on January 1—or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday—and on an adjacent day;
  • Semifinals and championship game dates are to be determined; semifinals likely will not be played as a doubleheader.
  • The playoff bracket would follow the rankings, with no modifications made to avoid rematches of teams that may have played during the regular-season or are from the same conference;
  • The bracket would remain in effect throughout the playoff (i.e., no re-seeding);
  • The working group’s charge did not include deciding which bowls might be a part of the CFP in the future; however the group did recommend that if traditional bowls host games, teams would be assigned to their traditional bowls for quarterfinal games with priority going to the higher-seeded team;
  • All 11 games would be under the CFP umbrella, with the administrative specifications and the process for selecting the six bowls that would rotate as hosts of the quarterfinals and semifinals still to be determined.

The next step in the process for the recommendation becoming official is that the 11-member management committee will review the recommendation and decide whether to approve, amend or stay with the current format. That group meets on June 17-18 in Chicago.

From there, if the recommendation is passed it will go through to the College Football Playoff Board of Governors, who are set to meet in Dallas on June 22.

Related: What a 12-team College Football Playoff would mean for Georgia football

If the College Football Playoff had been at 12-teams as opposed to four, Georgia would’ve made the College Football Playoff in each of the past four seasons, as opposed to its lone 2017 appearance.

The Bulldogs figure to be in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt once again this season. Georgia returns a ton of top talent and will get a chance to show it in the first game of the season against Clemson.

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