According to the proposal from the working group, which will be discussed next week during a meeting of the larger playoff management committee, the six highest-ranked conference champions will be included in the field as well as six more teams with the highest rank, regardless of whether they won conference titles. No conferences would be guaranteed a bid and the playoffs would continue to rely on a selection committee to rank teams.
It is not clear when the new strategy, if approved, will take effect, although no changes are expected in the next two seasons. Had the proposed system been in place by 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 eventual champion – Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Only in April said the playoffs that members of the working group continued “to support and believe in the playoffs with four teams as it is currently composed”, but that they studied at least 63 models for the future. These options included fields of six, eight, 10, 12, and 16 teams.
The NCAA, which manages the lucrative Division I men’s basketball tournament, does not control the playoffs. Instead, the commissioners of the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and Notre Dame’s athletic director largely run the competition, with the ultimate power vested in a group of 11 university presidents and chancellors.
If the commissioners present the proposal next week, the presidents and chancellors could decide as early as this month to approve “feasibility assessments” and other planning steps towards an expanded playoffs. They are likely to review the results during a meeting scheduled for September.