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League commissioners continue to discuss college football playoff expansion

There is no announced timeline and the earliest expansion would be possible is likely 2023 if there are no big snags.

Conference leaders continue to make progress on a plan to expand the college football playoff from four to 12 teams.
Conference leaders continue to make progress on a plan to expand the college football playoff from four to 12 teams.
Ross D. Franklin/AP

College Football Playoff expansion took another step forward as the full group of commissioners who manage the postseason system spent about six hours over two days digging into a proposed plan for a 12-team format.

“This is the beginning of a long, ongoing process,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Friday as he departed Big Ten headquarters in Rosemont. “It’s going to be months before we come to any closure on any of this.”

There is no announced timeline and the earliest expansion would be possible is likely 2023 if there are no big snags.

Last week, the CFP unveiled a plan to expand from four to 12 teams. Six spots would be reserved for the highest-ranked conference champions and and the other six would be at-large spots. The plan calls for first-round games played on campuses and quarterfinal and semifinal games played in bowls.

The detailed proposal was developed over two years by four members of the CFP management committee: Bowlsby, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson.

“You can imagine how many pages of notes I have on two years of work. And that’s what we’re trying to bring everybody else up to speed with,” Bowlsby said.

This week’s meeting was the first chance for the entire 11-person management committee to discuss the proposal in person. The other members include the commissioners of the Big Ten, Pac-12, Atlantic Coast Conference, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference.

“Four of us were at one place. Now I think we have 11 of us at that place,” Bowlsby said. “Now, we move to talk to the presidents and see if we can get them at that place.”

Next week, the group reconvenes in Dallas to present the plan to the CFP’s Board of Managers, the university presidents who have final say on what would be a momentous change in college football, with financial ramifications for bowls and conferences alike.

Before anything becomes a done deal, the commissioners want to hear from their local constituents: athletic directors, coaches and players. What do they think about all this?

“This is an enormous undertaking with dozens and dozens of moving parts and it’s not going to be a rapid process,” Bowlsby said. “This is going to be at least (this) fall before we have the necessary conversations and possess the necessary information to make informed decisions.”