4:29 PM ET
Mark Schrabach ESPN Senior Writer
- Senior College Football Writer
- Author of seven college football books
- Georgia graduate
ATLANTA — SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey isn’t convinced the 12-team college football playoff will be the first before the 2026 season Appeared.
Sankey told reporters Saturday before Georgia No. 3 Mercedes’ game against Oregon No. 11 Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the start of the expanded playoffs There is still a lot to do, and each meeting has to agree to make big changes quickly.
“If history is a lesson to help us understand the future, it’s not going to be easy,” Sankey said. “But thinking changes, motivations change. … There are a lot of moving parts. I hope we can use the last nine months to work. We have to think fast to make it happen.”
On Friday, the governing board of the College Football Playoffs unanimously voted to expand the playoffs to 12 teams starting in 2026. But a committee of 11 presidents and chancellors encouraged the sport’s commissioners to try to implement the expanded format as soon as 2024.
The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jake Swarbrick are scheduled to meet Thursday in Irvine, Texas, to begin discussions about a possible implementation of the early format.
The 12-team playoffs will include the six highest-ranked conference champions and six large teams.
The Academy’s football playoff task force, which includes Sankey, first revealed in June 2021 that it was proposing a 12-team format. Conference commissioners appeared set to vote to implement it, but the governing board announced in February that the four-team model would remain in place until the end of the 12-year TV contract for the 2025 season.
The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 oppose expanding the playoffs. But after another wave of restructuring, the Big Ten agreed to a seven-year, $7 billion media rights in August as USC and UCLA moved from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten. Agreement to expand CFP is again the focus.
“I probably wouldn’t ask what changed,” Sankey said. “Others may be incentivized because they make expansion decisions that go into effect early next year. They may look for opportunities as soon as possible. Our plan is for 2025, and we know it’s probably a four-team playoff, So the decision was made then. Based on what has happened over the past 12 months, I have said repeatedly and eloquently that the [SEC] could have stayed four times after the [current transaction].”
Sankey said the expansion of the CFP would not necessarily change the SEC’s 2026 timeline for the inclusion of Oklahoma and Texas in the league. The Sooners and Longhorns said they intend to stay with the Big 12 until their media rights contracts expire at the end of the 2024-25 school year. Unless they can reach a settlement with the Big 12, the school will have to pay a huge buyout fee to get out early.
“It’s by the Big 12 conference and the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas,” Sankey said.