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CFP board approves move to 5+7 model for 2024

The College Football Playoff Board of Managers on Tuesday voted unanimously to revise the format of the 12-team event to include the five highest-ranked conference champions and seven at-large bids, finalizing an adjustment from the original “6+6” model.

The board, which is made up of 11 chancellors and presidents from each FBS conference plus Notre Dame, met virtually on Tuesday to finalize the adjustment that was introduced to account for the dismantling of the Pac-12 in the latest round of conference realignment. Washington State president Kirk Schulz, the Pac-12 representative on the board, had been the lone holdout on the change during the board’s most recent meeting.

Two sources briefed on the conference call said that a proposal from Schulz, which called for the two remaining Pac-12 members to receive the same revenue and voting powers as their peers in power-conference leagues beginning in 2026, did not receive much support. For now, Washington State and Oregon State have retained their seat on both CFP governing boards and will receive Power 5-level payouts this year and next.

Both sources said they expect Wednesday’s meeting of the commissioners who make up the CFP Management Committee to be quite contentious, with Big Ten and SEC leaders expected to lay out what they want in the new CFP contract that begins in 2026. One said they expect the Big Ten and SEC to push for revenue shares larger than those given to the Big 12 and ACC, creating further separation between the two groups. The other source said they thought one or both of the leagues might demand multiple automatic qualifiers per year — even as many as three or four for one conference.

The original 6+6 model, which was first introduced nearly three years ago alongside the initial proposal to expand to 12 teams, awarded the six highest-ranked conference champions automatic Playoff bids. The next six highest-ranked teams receive the remaining at-large bids.

“This is a very logical adjustment for the College Football Playoff based on the evolution of our conference structures since the board first adopted this new format in September 2022,” said Mississippi State president and CFP Board of Managers chair Mark Keenum in a statement. “I know this change will also be well received by student-athletes, coaches and fans. We all will be pleased to see this new format come to life on the field this postseason.”

In the 12-team format beginning with the 2024 season, the top four conference champions receive a first-round bye, with the No. 5 seed playing No. 12, No. 6 playing No. 11, No. 7 playing No. 10 and No. 8 playing No. 9. The 5-8 seeds will host the first-round games at their respective schools, and the New Year’s Six bowls (Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl) will host the quarterfinals and semifinals on a rotation.

No conference champions automatically qualify for the field, and there is no limit to the number of at-large bids a conference can earn. In November, the commissioners determined that Oregon State and Washington State, which will continue to play football under the Pac-12 banner and reached a scheduling agreement with the Mountain West to help fill out its slates for the next two years, will not be eligible for the five automatic qualifying spots for conference champions.

The conference commissioners (and Notre Dame leadership) who make up the CFP’s Management Committee will meet in person in Dallas on Wednesday in their continued struggle to agree on several key structural details for 2026 and beyond, when the CFP’s initial 12-year rights agreement with ESPN expires. ESPN has agreed to terms with representatives for the College Football Playoff on a six-year, $7.8 billion extension to televise the event through 2031-32, but CFP leaders still need to vote on the deal for it to take effect.

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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