ATLANTA — SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is not confident that the 12-team college football playoffs will debut before the 2026 season.
Sankey told reporters Saturday before No. 3 Georgia’s game against No. 11 Oregon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that there is still a lot to do before the expanded playoffs, and every meeting All must agree to make major 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 faster to make it happen.”
On Friday, the governing board of the College Football Playoffs voted unanimously to expand the playoffs to 12 teams starting in 2026. But a board of 11 presidents and chancellors encouraged the sport’s commissioners to implement the expanded form as soon as possible in 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 early implementation of the format.
The 12-team playoffs will include the six highest-ranked conference champions and six regular teams.
The college 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 are against 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, I said repeatedly, meaningfully, [the SEC] could have been after four [the current deal], based on events over the past 12 months. “
Sankey said the expansion of the CFP would not necessarily change the SEC’s 2026 timeline for bringing Oklahoma and Texas into the league. The Sooners and Longhorns have 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 acquisition fee to get out early.
“It’s a decision between the Big 12 and the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas,” Sankey said.