If a 12-team format is the way forward for the College Football Playoff —- and odds are that it nonetheless is regardless of a latest detour on the street to growth — among the many many particulars that must be labored out is when it will begin.

There are two decisions that might be thought of by the directors who make up the CFP administration committee:

— Hold the primary around the second weekend of December, which might create what some members of the committee consider is an unfair benefit for playoff groups that do not play convention championship video games whereas additionally bumping into what has turn out to be the standard standalone date for the Army-Navy recreation.

Or …

— Play the third week of December and cope with the opportunity of scheduling the playoff round or in opposition to NFL video games.

“That’s part of what we’re trying to figure out, just the sequencing of when these games would be played and in what order,” Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips advised AP this week, including that the protection of groups taking part in two high-stakes video games in a row was an element.” So we have to pay careful attention to that, not only the number of games, but how they are sequenced.”

Instead of transferring ahead on a 12-team mannequin as many concerned hoped can be the case by now, the committee is sorting by means of the professionals and cons of an eight-team format.

With eight groups, there are not any video games that must be performed in mid-December, eliminating altogether these points in addition to conflicts with last exams at many faculties, and making that quantity extra interesting to some committee members.

Still, there are obstacles to eight that make growth to 12 extra doubtless .

Getting consensus on when to play these first 4 video games in a 12-team mannequin is a crucial piece of the playoff puzzle. How rapidly it’s in place will assist decide if the playoff expands ultimately.


The 12-team plan requires the primary 4 video games to match seeds 5-12 on campus websites. The prime 4 groups, all convention champions beneath the proposal, would have byes into the quarterfinals to be performed on or close to New Year’s Day.

At least two of these 5-12 seeds might be groups which have received convention championships. The plan requires the six highest-ranked league champs to have automated bids to the CFP. Some groups that lose convention championship video games must also be anticipated to make the sector.

Using earlier last CFP rankings as an imperfect information to how a 12-team playoff might need performed out within the latest seasons, AP regarded on the 2017-19 seasons. (Previous seasons weren’t used as a result of the Big 12 was not taking part in a convention title recreation and 2020 was thrown out as a result of the pandemic brought on a number of conferences to have abbreviated seasons.)

In these three seasons, there would have been a complete of 5 matchups between a crew that performed in a convention championship recreation and one which didn’t.

None of these hypothetical matchups concerned Notre Dame, however the Fighting Irish are clearly on the minds of some members of the committee. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was a part of the subcommittee that drew up the 12-team plan.

Under the proposal, impartial Notre Dame would by no means get a first-round bye. Swarbrick has stated that was a good trade-off for Notre Dame by no means having to play on championship weekend. The Irish would all the time have per week off whereas most playoff contenders are taking part in.

But it isn’t simply Notre Dame. Using 2017-19 last CFP rankings, 11 groups that didn’t qualify for his or her convention championship would have made a 12-team discipline throughout these three seasons.

Then there’s the Army-Navy drawback. The rivalry has been the one recreation scheduled to be performed on the second Saturday of December since 2009, and people concerned wish to preserve it that method.

“It’s been huge,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk stated. “It’s helped us on every front in terms of corporate sponsorship, television exposure, ratings, national exposure with regard to a fanbase for both Army and Navy that is national not parochial.”

Moving Army-Navy again per week would then place it throughout what’s now the primary weekend of bowl season. It would additionally complicate issues if both is in place to qualify for the playoff.

Gladchuk was hesitant to take a position with a lot uncertainty, however stated possibly Army-Navy may moved to Thanksgiving weekend if a 12-team playoff took over mid-December.


Having the playoff on this weekend in all probability means an entire bunch of lower-tier bowl video games would want to seek out one other date.

Typically, bowl season begins on the third Saturday of December with a number of video games principally involving groups from non-Power Five conferences and, extra not too long ago, the FCS Celebration Bowl that acts as a de facto nationwide title recreation for traditionally Black faculties.

The greater potential impediment is late-season NFL video games. The league sometimes performs video games on the ultimate two Saturdays of December.

This yr, due to the way in which the calendar breaks, there are not any Saturday NFL video games on the third weekend of December. But final yr, there was.

It’s one factor for ESPN to string collectively a handful of minor bowls to go up in opposition to the mighty NFL. It’s fairly one other to ask a tv accomplice to pay tons of of million of {dollars} for a brand new CFP after which anticipate that community to place that up in opposition to the TV rankings monster that’s the NFL.

An answer may very well be merely not taking part in some or all of these first 4 video games on Saturday, as a substitute making them primetime weeknight video games.

Something to remember the fact that may make going in opposition to the NFL not appear so scary. With the NFL’s Thursday night time bundle transferring to Amazon in 2022, the late-season Saturday video games are more likely to be unique to the NFL Network. ESPN and/or Fox (if it will get into the CFP enterprise) would have room for these school video games.

Gladchuk isn’t concerned within the CFP course of, however he stated placing an open week between championship weekend and the beginning of the playoff made sense.

“They would give (the players) a week off to regroup,” he stated. “They’d give the fans a chance to recalibrate and make destination plans.”

CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock stated final month if a brand new format is to be carried out for the 2024 season, consensus must be reached by the administration committee by late December or January. Otherwise, the 2026 season can be the soonest a change may very well be made.

No official conferences have been introduced, however November may very well be a pivotal month to work issues out. When to begin the playoff isn’t the largest hurdle, but it surely’s one other difficult one on a protracted listing.

“The calendar,” Hancock stated, “is really complex.”