SEC commissioner Greg Sankey unsure College Football Playoff will expand early

ATLANTA — SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey isn’t confident a 12-team college football playoff will make its debut before the 2026 season.

Sankey told reporters Saturday before No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 11 Oregon’s contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium that there is too much to do before the extended playoffs can take place and that every conference needs to come to the same side make significant changes in a hurry.

“If history is a lesson that helps us understand the future, it’s not going to be easy,” Sankey said. “But thoughts change, motivations change. … There are a number of moving parts. There I wish we could have used the last nine months to work. We need to accelerate our thinking to achieve that.”

On Friday, the College Football Playoff Board voted unanimously to expand the playoffs to 12 teams beginning in 2026. However, the board, which consists of 11 presidents and chancellors, encouraged sport’s commissioners to try to implement the expanded format as early as 2024.

The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swabrick will meet Thursday in Irving, Texas to begin talks about a possible early implementation of the format.

The 12-team playoffs will include the six top-ranked conference champions and six teams at large.

The College Football Playoff Working Group, which included Sankey, first announced in June 2021 that it was proposing a 12-team format. Conference commissioners appeared ready to vote to implement it, but the board announced in February that the four-team model would remain in place until the end of the 12-year television deal, which runs through the 2025 season.

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 were against the extended playoffs. But after another wave of realignment, as USC and UCLA transitioned from Pac-12 to the Big Ten, and the Big Ten agreed a seven-year, $7 billion media rights deal in August, the focus once again was on expanding the CFP.

“I’m probably not the one asking what changed,” Sankey said. “Others are likely incentivized because they have made expansion decisions that take effect early next year. You’re probably looking for opportunities sooner rather than later. Ours is scheduled for 2025, and we made that decision because we knew it could be a four-team playoff, I’ve said that repeatedly with great meaning [the SEC] could have stayed at four beyond that [the current deal]based on the events of the past 12 months.”

Sankey said the CFP expansion wouldn’t necessarily change the SEC’s schedule of bringing Oklahoma and Texas into the league in 2026. The Sooners and Longhorns have said they intend to remain in the Big 12 until their media rights deal expires at the end of 2024-25 the academic year. Schools would have to pay hefty sums to get out earlier unless they can reach an agreement with the Big 12.

“This is a decision that needs to be made between the Big 12 Conference and the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas,” Sankey said. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey unsure College Football Playoff will expand early

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