In a shocking twist Friday afternoon, the College Football Playoff Board of Managers unanimously voted to expand their aforementioned tournament to 12 teams, possibly beginning in the 2026 season. The development — which was first reported by ESPN’s Pete Thamel — will create a seismic change to the FBS landscape, with more questions asked than answered.
While many details remain undefined, in no small part due to the existing contracts still being intact, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach provided a significant detail shortly after the initial news break. In a tweet, she confirmed the 12 teams would compose of the six highest ranked conference champions and six at-large bids.
The 12-team CFP format will be the one that was initially proposed by the four-person working group. Six highest-ranked conference champions, six at-larges.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) September 2, 2022
Source tells @TheAthletic that there are a lot of details left to work out to see if it can be implemented before 2026.
After the failure of the board to approve the same proposal this past February, CFP expansion looked to have reached a dead end.
The Big Ten’s recent media deal — worth almost $1 billion a year — along with other pending negotiations between conferences and networks appears to have been a significant motivator in the reopening of expansion talk.
One of the main drivers of this College Football Playoff expansion was money. Presidents felt as if they were leaving too much on the table. Monday could end up a powerful motivator for starting prior to 2026.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 2, 2022
While the expansion is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2026, Thamel reports significant interest in implementing the new CFP before then — perhaps as soon as 2024.
Per Thamel, the 10 FBS conference commissioners, along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, will meet next week to work out the questions still left after today’s vote.