College Football Playoff to execute expansion plan in 2026
September 9, 2022
The College Football Playoff (CFP) management committee has confirmed it will execute its expansion plan in 2026, with the potential of an early expansion starting in 2024.
The commissioners are slated to have another meeting on September 28. Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said he was optimistic regarding the idea of an early expansion.
“When an event is worth it, you do what you need to do to execute it,” Yormark said.
Former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who proposed the 12-team expansion model, said he acknowledged there would be logistical issues with the plan for both teams and fans. Despite the challenges, he said the expansion was still doable.
New playoff model
The new playoff model will include 12 teams, which is three times more than the current four. CFP board chairman and Mississippi State president Mark Keenum said the more teams participating, the more support there would be for student-athletes and college football.
"More teams, more participation, and more excitement are good for our fans, alumni, and student-athletes,” Keenum said.
"I'm grateful to my colleagues on the board for their thoughtful approach to this issue and for their resolve to get expansion across the goal line and for the extensive work of the Management Committee that made this decision possible."
The 12-team field will consist of the six highest-ranked conference champions and six teams that qualify for the playoffs, which will be selected and ranked by the committee.
The first games are scheduled on either the second or third weekend of December. There will be 12 days between the playoff and conference championship games. The higher-seeded teams will play in the first-round games.
After the first round, the playoff will be played out as an eight-team competition, starting with the quarterfinals. Four teams will advance to the semifinals and two to the College Football Playoff championship game.
The 2025-26 NFL playoff is predicted to be scheduled from January 17 to February 1, with Super Bowl LX on February 15. While The CFP may complete the first three rounds before the NFL playoffs begin, doing so would require playing its games on weekdays.
The CFP can start playing early on Thursday, December 18, 2025, 12 days after the estimated days on which the conference championship game takes place. However, the NFL also plays on the same days through Week 17. It means Friday, December 19, is the only day the CFP may play first-round games without potentially conflicting with the NFL schedule.
After that, the quarterfinals could be held on Wednesday, December 31, and Thursday, January 1, while the semifinals would be on either Friday, January 9, or Monday, January 12.
The CFP will also need to determine when the CFP National Championship should begin while the NFL playoffs are ongoing. The available dates would be from January 21 to 23 or on January 26, considering the game traditionally plays on Monday night.
The other available option would be on Saturday night before the NFL conference championship on Sunday. However, playing on January 31 would leave a nearly three-week-long gap between the semifinal and title game in the 2025-26 schedule. Should they go with this plan, the CFP may need to extend the event to February.