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College Football Playoff Board of Managers unanimously votes to expand playoff to 12-team format in 2026

2016 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Set Number: X160221 TK1

The College Football Playoff is officially expanding to 12-teams by 2026. That follows a vote on Friday by the CFP Board of Managers in which the 11 presidents and chancellors on the board voted unanimously in favor of the expansion, per The Athletic. ESPN reporter Pete Thamel first broke the news, however.

The 12-team format that was approved today is the same as the one initially proposed by the four-person working group and reported on last year. It will result in the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large bids in the expanded format. Note that means the Power Five champions are not automatically guaranteed a spot in the CFP should a scenario where two Group of Five champions are ranked ahead of one of the Power Five champions ever arise.

The four highest-ranked conference champions get the top one through four seeds in the expanded playoff, along with a firsr-round bye. The other eight teams will play with the higher seeds hosting the lower seeds — either on the campus of the higher seed or at other designated sites.

The quarterfinal games and semifinal games would play in existing bowl games on a rotating basis with the national championship continuing to be held at a neutral site.

“I’m very pleased we were able to get this accomplished,” said Mississippi State president Mark Keenum, the chair of the CFP Board of Managers. “More teams, more participation, and more excitement are good for our fans, alumni, and student-athletes.”

It will also mean more revenue as the total number of playoff games expand from three games as it exists now to 11 in the expanded format. Whether ESPN remains the exclusive broadcast partner or not when the contract is up for renewal, that is a big jump in new television broadcast inventory.

Beyond that, the details of the expansion, logistics of how it will be held, and whether it can be implemented prior to the 2026 season are being left to the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick. They are reportedly meeting next week in Dallas to start that process.

This article has been updated since it was first published. As a breaking news article, it has been updated to reflect details not immediately available at time of initial publishing.