College Football Playoff expansion on hold, current four-team format will remain until 2026

The College Football Playoff announced Friday that its current four-team format will continue through the end of the current contract, which expires following the 2025 season. There has been speculation that the CFP could expand to a proposed 12-team format prior to the end of the current deal.

“The Board of Managers has accepted a recommendation from the Management Committee to continue the current four-team playoff for the next four years, as called for in the CFP’s original 12-year plan,” said College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock. “At the same time, the Board expects the Management Committee to continue its discussions of a new format that would go into effect for the 2026-27 season.”

A four-person sub-group of the CFP management committee announced in June that it has developed a 12-team format. That format would allow the top six conference champions to earn berths regardless of which conference they’re in. The remaining six spots would be at-large bids as determined by the CFP selection committee. First-round games would have been played on the campus of the higher-seeded team two weeks after conference championship games, and quarterfinal matchups would have taken place on Jan. 1 or 2. The top four seeds would have received byes in the proposed format .

Multiple events have occurred since that announcement that have changed the landscape of college football, including a massive realignment bonanza that began in July when the SEC announced that it is adding Oklahoma and Texas.

“Even though the outcome did not lead to a recommendation for an early expansion before the end of the current 12-year contract, the discussions have been helpful and informative,” said CFP executive director Bill Hancock. “I am sure they will serve as a useful guide for the Board of Managers and for the Management Committee as we determine what the Playoff will look like beginning in the 2026-2027 season.”

Dodd: Lack of leadership, divided interests squash playoff expansion hopes

The group did not vote on the 12-team format in September, but did meet on Dec. 1 in Grapevine, Texas, to discuss potential alternatives. It also met over a three-day span in Indianapolis in January prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship, but no decision was made then either.

“I am disappointed,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said at the time. “We have entrenched issues. They are no closer to being resolved than they were [before our meetings]. “

The current four-team format was instituted following the 2014 season. It takes the top four teams as voted on by the CFP selection committee, and places them in two of six bowl games. Those bowl games are the Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange, Fiesta and Peach. The semifinals rotate through the six bowls on a three-year cycle.

“So humbly proud to be a partner with CFP as a New Years Six Bowl game and look forward to hosting CFP Semifinals in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in 2022 and 2025,” Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan told CBS Sports. “We support the CFP Management Committee and Management Board in their current decision and look forward to continuing to work together with the CFP to give back to college football by being college football’s most charitable bowl organization.”

The Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl will be the semifinal sites for the upcoming season.

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