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College Football Playoff working group to recommend expanding field to 12 teams with six conference champions


Calls for the expansion of the College Football Playoff began as soon as it replaced the Bowl Championship Series ahead of the 2014 season. Seven years later, those calls are on their way to being answered. A College Football Playoff working group is set to formally recommend Thursday expanding the four-team field to 12 teams, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd.

That 12-team model would invite the top six conference champions and six at-large teams into the field. In this format, the top four conference champions would get byes in the first round and the other eight teams will have first-round games on the campuses of the next four highest-ranked teams.

The working group’s recommendation will be discussed and vetted next week at a previously scheduled CFP Management Committee meeting on June 17-18. The committee is made up of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

An expanded field could be formally approved as soon as June 22 when the CFP Board of Managers meets. That group is comprised of presidents and chancellors representing the 10 FBS conferences along with Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins.

There are five years remaining on the current CFP contract with ESPN. It is unknown when Thursday’s recommendation, if formally approved, would go into effect.

The current four-team model uses a 13-member CFP Selection Committee comprised of athletic directors, former coaches and other prominent industry names. That committee creates a set of top 25 rankings weekly over the latter half of the season that seeds the top four teams. Four different programs have won the CFP since its inception — Ohio State (2014), Alabama (2015, 2017, 2020), Clemson (2016, 2018) and LSU (2019).

The CFP replaced the BCS, which was in existence from 1998-2013. That format limited the meaningful postseason to the top two teams in standings determined by a combination of computers and polls. 

Details of the CFP working group’s recommendation were first reported by Yahoo Sports.