College Football Playoff expansion to a 12-team bracket recommended

A subcommittee tasked with evaluating the future format of the College Football Playoff recommended on Thursday a drastic change that would broaden the bracket to 12 teams split evenly between conference champions and at-large bids.

Termed “the first step in a long process,” the recommendation would bypass a simple doubling of the current four-team format and revolutionize the final stages of college football’s race for the national championship, while raising concerns over whether such expansion would further dilute the stakes at play during the regular season. 

The proposal came from the four-person expansion working group of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West commissioner Greg Thompson, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.

Alabama coach Nick Saban and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood celebrated with the National Championship trophy after beating Ohio State in the 2021 CFP National Championship game.

Under the recommendation, the bracket would consist of the six top-ranked conference champions and six at-large bids. No conference would automatically qualify for the playoff, and there would be no cap on the number of participants from one conference. The rankings would still be determined by the selection committee.

The four highest-ranked conference champions would be given a bye into the “second round” of games to face the winners of games matching the next eight seeds in games played at the home stadium of the higher-ranked team. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals would then be played at a neutral venue. (The current format features all games at neutral-site locations.)

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