College Football Playoff announces plans for new 12-team format
The College Football Playoff has officially confirmed reports of expansion, now moving to a new 12-team format.
Here’s a look at the changes, from CollegeFootballPlayoff.com:
1. The 12 teams will be the six conference champions ranked highest by the selection committee (no minimum ranking requirement), plus the six highest-ranked teams not included among the six highest-ranked conference champions.
2. The ranking of the teams will continue to be done by a selection committee whose size, composition, and method of selection will remain substantially unchanged. The Management Committee will modify the selection protocol as required by the change to the playoff structure.
3. The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will receive a first-round bye.
4. The other eight teams will play in the first round with the higher seeds hosting the lower seeds either on campus or at other sites designated by the higher-seeded institution (No. 12 at No. 5, No. 11 at No. 6, No. 10 at No. 7 and No. 9 at No. 8.)
5. The model allows for first-round games to be played on either the second or third weekend in December in a way that best accommodates the format and the participating teams, with at least 12 days between the conference championship games and the first-round games. The Management Committee would make the final determination of the calendar.
6. Subject to reaching agreement with bowls, the four quarterfinal games and two Playoff Semifinal games would be played in bowls on a rotating basis.
7. The national championship game will continue to be played at a neutral site.
8. Subject to reaching agreement with bowls, the four highest-ranked conference champions will be assigned to quarterfinals bowls on selection day in ranking order, and in consideration of current contract bowl relationships if those bowls are selected for the rotation. For example, if the Pac-12 champion were ranked #1, the Big Ten champion were ranked #3, and the Rose Bowl were a quarterfinal site, the Pac-12 champion would be assigned to the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten champion would be assigned elsewhere.
9. With the four highest-ranked champions assigned to quarterfinal games in bowls, the opponent from first-round game winners will be assigned by the selection committee based on the bracket.
10. The higher seeds would receive preferential placement in the Playoff Semifinal games.
11. First-round games will not have title or presenting sponsors and existing venue signage will remain in place. The CFP will control the video boards.
One of the most notable parts of this is statement at No. 4 on the list, which reflects which seeds will face which as we move into a new era of college football that continues to evolve. It will be interesting to watch the impact that this has across the sport, though it’s easy to get the sense these changes are welcomed with a lot of desire across the board for expansion that has existed for several years now.
The changes are set to take place in 2026, though there is a push for earlier implementation that is entirely possible.