College Football Playoff Commissioners Discuss Expanding Field to 14 or 16 Teams in New Contract

Grapevine, Texas – In a recent meeting, college football commissioners discussed the possibility of expanding the College Football Playoff (CFP) field to 14 or 16 teams, starting from the next CFP contract in 2026. The commissioners also explored the idea of adding more automatic qualifier spots, with a deadline of one month to finalize the decision. The discussions were highly anticipated as the CFP faces pressure to finalize its new television deal with ESPN.

The CFP management committee, consisting of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, met for more than eight hours to discuss the potential changes. The Big Ten and SEC conferences were expected to propose specific ideas, and they delivered as anticipated.

Tony Petitti, the Big Ten commissioner, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting, stating, “It was the most productive meeting I’ve been in since I started as commissioner. We talked about some formatting, and 14 teams came up. There was a good discussion about that. After that, no details were provided, other than the fact that we have more work to do. I feel good about the way everyone came together.”

The current 12-team model for 2024 and 2025 has already been set, with five conference champions receiving automatic bids and four teams earning first-round byes. Seven spots will be filled by at-large teams. However, the focus has now shifted to future formats, specifically 2026 and beyond.

Jim Phillips, the ACC commissioner, mentioned the potential for going to other numbers, such as 14 teams. This would likely result in two first-round byes, while a 16-team model would have no byes. Both models would allow for more spots for the Power 4 conferences, particularly the Big Ten and SEC, which have attained more CFP appearances due to their increased memberships.

While the commissioners acknowledged the potential expansion, they refrained from sharing details about the addition of more automatic qualifying spots for conferences like the Big Ten and SEC. This topic was discussed but remains premature. The commissioners are actively listening to one another to develop a model that benefits college football, the conferences, Notre Dame, and the long-term health of the sport.

Bill Hancock, the CFP executive director, emphasized the need to finalize potential format changes and the subsequent television deal within the next month. This leaves a small window of time to tackle these potentially major format changes. It is also worth noting that revenue sharing and voting powers for 2026 onwards are still under discussion.

Last week, it was reported that ESPN and media representatives for the College Football Playoff agreed on terms for a new television deal worth $7.8 billion over six years, from 2026 to 2032. However, this agreement has not yet been voted on, and ESPN has expressed frustration over the prolonged process. It remains uncertain whether an expanded field would increase the value of the deal.

The idea of more first-round games has not been negotiated in the current terms agreed upon with ESPN. While ESPN is open to discussing the possibility, the budget of $1.3 billion annually is already set, and additional games may not necessarily bring in more revenue.

Hancock stressed the urgency of concluding these discussions within a month. He noted, “I don’t know that anyone wants to put artificial deadlines on anything, but we need to be done with this. I think today left everyone with an encouraging feeling that we will be done.”

The potential expansion of the College Football Playoff has been a topic of discussion for years, and now the commissioners are considering changes even before the recently proposed 12-team model is implemented. The commissioners are eager to make progress and find a solution that suits all parties involved.

In this ever-evolving landscape of college football, it is essential to adapt and respond to emerging trends. The potential expansion of the College Football Playoff not only increases the opportunity for more teams to compete but also has implications for revenue sharing, voting powers, and broadcast rights.

As the sport continues to grow and evolve, it is crucial to consider the long-term sustainability and well-being of college football. The decisions made in the coming weeks will shape the future of the sport and have far-reaching consequences. It is imperative for the commissioners to carefully analyze the potential implications of each decision and strive for a model that ensures fairness, excitement, and continued growth.

In conclusion, the discussions surrounding the expansion of the College Football Playoff have reached a critical point. With a one-month deadline to finalize potential format changes and the subsequent television deal, the commissioners must work efficiently and collaboratively to find a solution that satisfies all stakeholders. The future of college football hangs in the balance, and the decisions made in the coming weeks will shape the direction of the sport for years to come.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.