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College Football Playoff expansion on hold, current four-team format will remain until at least 2026

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The College Football Playoff announced Friday that the current four-team format will continue through the end of the current contract, which expires following the 2026 season. There has been speculation that the CFP could expand to the proposed 12-team format prior to the end of the current deal. 

“The Board of Managers has accepted a recommendation from the Management Committee to continue the current four-team playoff for the next four years, as called for in the CFP’s original 12-year plan,” said College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock. “At the same time, the Board expects the Management Committee to continue its discussions of a new format that would go into effect for the 2026-27 season.”

Multiple events have occurred since that announcement that have changed the landscape of college football, including a massive realignment bonanza that began in July when the SEC announced that it is adding Oklahoma and Texas. 

“Even though the outcome did not lead to a recommendation for an early expansion before the end of the current 12-year contract, the discussions have been helpful and informative. I am sure they will serve as a useful guide for the Board of Managers and for the Management Committee as we determine what the Playoff will look like beginning in the 2026-2027 season.”

A four-person sub-group of the CFP management committee announced in June that it has developed a 12-team format. That format would allow the top six conference champions to earn berths regardless of which conference they’re in. The remaining six spots would be at-large bids as determined by the CFP selection committee. First-round games would have be played on the campus of the higher-seeded team two weeks after conference championship games, and quarterfinal matchups would have taken place on Jan. 1 or 2.

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