College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams
12-team playoff to begin with 2026 season, but it could come sooner
The College Football Playoff is expanding.
A group of university and college presidents and chancellors who oversee the College Football Playoff on Friday unanimously voted to expand the current four-team model to 12 teams beginning with the 2026 season.
However, the College Football Playoff leadership has been tasked with assessing the possibility of beginning the expanded playoff as early as 2024.
"This is an historic and exciting day for college football," Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, who serves as chairman of the College Football Playoff Board of Managers, said in a news release announcing the decision. "More teams, more participation and more excitement are good for our fans, alumni and student-athletes. 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 College Football Playoff Management Committee, comprised of the 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, must still determine the sites and dates of the 11 games.
Under the expanded playoff, the six highest-ranked conference champions will receive automatic berths, plus the six highest-ranked teams not included among the highest-ranked conference champions.
The four highest-ranked conference champions will each receive a first-round bye, while the either other teams will play in the first round with the higher seeds hosting the lower seeds either on campus or at another site designated by the higher-seeded institution.
There will be at least 12 days between the conference championship games and the first-round games. Higher-seeded teams will receive preferential placement in the semifinal games.
"I'm very pleased we were able to get this accomplished and I look forward to expansion taking place," Keenum said. "The four-team playoff has been highly popular and successful. I believe this new format will be even more popular and successful."
Hard Rock Stadium was recently selected to host the College Football Playoff National Championship game in 2026. If the move to 12 teams doesn't come sooner, the South Florida title game would be the last in a four-team format.
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