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College football playoff size could triple in coming years

According to the task force’s proposal, which will be considered next week at a meeting of the broader playoff management committee, the six highest-ranked conference champions would be included in the field, along with six other teams with the highest rankings, regardless of whether they won conference titles. No conference would be guaranteed of a candidacy, and the playoffs would continue to rely on a selection committee to rank teams.

It is not clear when the new strategy, if approved, would go into effect, although changes are not expected for the next two seasons. Had the proposed system been in place for the 2020 season, the playoffs would have included Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. Instead, the playoffs featured only Alabama – the future champion – Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

In April alone, the playoffs said task force members continued to “support and believe in the four-team playoffs as they are currently made,” but were studying at least 63 models for the to come up. These possibilities included fields of six, eight, 10, 12 and 16 teams.

The NCAA, which governs the lucrative Division I men’s basketball tournament, does not control the playoffs. Instead, the Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director largely run the competition, with ultimate power vested in a group of 11 university presidents and chancellors.

If commissioners move the proposal forward next week, presidents and chancellors could decide as early as this month to approve “feasibility assessments” and other planning steps for a playoff expansion. They would likely review the results at a meeting scheduled for September.

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