In the wake of conference realignment, the College Football Playoff appears to be headed towards changing its format as it expands to 12 teams.
Late last week, the CFP Management Committee — comprised of the 10 FBS conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick — met and voted to recommend a qualifying format of five automatic qualifiers and seven at-large bids, as first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Under the format, the five highest-ranked champions from each conference would get an automatic bid, with seven programs then getting in at the mercy of the CFP Selection Committee. The format would theoretically go into effect when the expanded CFP kicks off in 2024.
It’s a departure from the six-and-six format the organization originally set out with when it decided to expand the tournament to 12 teams. But in the wake of major conference realignment that decimated the Pac-12, the CFP has decided to update the qualifications.
To that end, the Management Committee is also recommending a policy change that would require each conference to have at least eight teams to qualify for the Playoff — heavily discouraging Pac-12 survivors Oregon State and Washington State to move forward with their proposed two-team conference.
With the Management Committee’s recommendation, the vote will now go to the CFP Board of Managers — 10 FBS school presidents and Notre Dame president John Jenkins — who will make the final decision when they meet in early December.
Washington State president Kirk Schulz, who sits on the Board, could block the decision — but decisionmakers at OSU and WSU are aware that the original six-and-six format could affect the “integrity” of the sport given all the major changes with the conferences, per Yahoo.
The decision to change the format is perhaps moving faster than originally expected. In August, CFP executive director Bill Hancock said that the organization would “wait until the dust settles” on conference realignment before making any decisions on changing the format, with AAC commissioner Mike Aresco echoing that sentiment in September.