A College Football Playoff management committee working group has recommended a 12-team playoff, according to an announcement made Thursday.
Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger first reported the news.
Under the proposal, the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large teams would receive a playoff berth. The four highest seeds would have a bye in the first round as well.
The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach noted one aspect regarding Notre Dame, which remains independent after playing in the ACC for the 2020 season:
Dellenger clarified that any changes to the CFP are a "long way from done." Stadium's Brett McMurphy also reported the 12-team playoff wouldn't start until 2023 at the earliest.
According to McMurphy, there would be an accompanying impact on bowl season, with "anywhere from 4-10 bowls to be eliminated by 2023."
The new format would address one of the biggest issues with the current system. A four-team playoff doesn't make sense when there are five major conferences in a class by themselves. Inevitably, somebody gets left out.
Granting automatic bids to conference champions would also provide some additional importance to the regular season and conference championship games. Last year, for example, the Pac-12 title race was largely an afterthought because it quickly became apparent no Pac-12 team was likely to finish in the top four.
Six auto bids would also open the door for at least one Group of Five team to have a shot. That was another concern expressed in 2020 as Cincinnati went 9-0 but only finished eighth in the CFP selection committee's final rankings. Coastal Carolina was a perfect 11-0 with a win over BYU and wound up 11th.
Simply having a route into the playoff could be a step toward Group of Five teams catching up to their Power Five peers since it's a carrot they could dangle in front of prospective recruits.
Some will wonder, however, whether 12 teams is too many, with eight being the preferred number instead.
The College Football Playoff has already taken so much attention away from the traditional postseason bowls, and an even bigger playoff will likely accelerate that effect.
This would potentially water down the regular season as well. Going by last year, three-loss Iowa State and Florida would've qualified for the playoff. Three losses may not have cost Wisconsin and Auburn in 2019, either.
The incredibly high stakes of each game is what makes the college football regular season so fun. Now, fans will come to believe top programs can lose two, maybe even three games and still be relatively safe.
Perhaps there's still some more wrangling over the final details before any alterations are finalized.