CFB Playoff: New decision timetable and possible 16-team format

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Many college football fans are tired of talk about CFB Playoff expansion. The long-running debate, resulting in no action has been more than a little frustrating.

The CFB Playoff has been the opposite of failure. In eight Playoff years, there is no sound argument the best team in the nation did not win the National Championship. However, failure is the precise word to describe Playoff expansion efforts.

In a two-year effort that attempted to expand the format to 12 teams, conference commissioners and Notre Dame AD, Jack Swarbrick failed. Requiring a unanimous vote, an 8-3 decision, derailed the expansion effort.

The three votes against were the result of varying degrees of selfishness and lack of vision. Though the Big Ten, Pac 12 and ACC denied progress, they will not be able to do so again. The next vote, for a new format beginning after the 2026 season, will be decided by a majority vote.

Wanting to move forward with deliberations sooner rather than later, the next round of discussions is expected to begin this summer. This time, the leaders will be school presidents and chancellors.

The chairman of the group is Mississippi State President, Mark Keenum. Last week, Keenum talked about a timeline.

"… we’ve got to make some decisions. I’m hopeful … within the year. We had our last meeting last month in May, and I said my hope to my colleagues, no later than this time a year from now we’ll know what the future holds for college football as far as the championship."

The earlier failed effort to the contrary, there is reason to believe a year is ample time.

What CFB Playoff expansion format?

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey concisely defined the status of expansion efforts going forward,

"We’re back to square one, it seems."

During the break in Playoff expansion discussions, Greg Sankey has been busy. He fired a warning to the rest of college football recently, saying the SEC will consider having its own 8-team playoff.

More recently, Sankey said he is open to other options.

"(an) 8-team (College Football) playoff w/out automatic qualifiers is something we would consider"

Automatic qualifiers or the lack of them has been the core dispute. Lesser conferences, especially the Pac 12 and the ACC have refused to consider any format that does not guarantee Power Five conference champions automatic spots.

The latest wrinkle, mentioned by Mark Keenum and endorsed by Steve Spurrier is a 16-team Playoff field.

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Whatever the eventual format, college football fans can be pleased new formal talks will begin this summer. Mark Keenum is confident of success, but then so were Greg Sankey, Bob Bowlsby, Craig Thompson and Jack Swarbrick.