In what will arguably be the most significant meetings about the college football postseason since the sport transitioned from the BCS to the College Football Playoff, a subcommittee is expected to present a report next week examining the strengths and weakness of the four-team playoff, including models for expansion, to the full group of FBS commissioners who constitute the CFP's management committee.
"It's the regularly scheduled June meeting of the management committee," said CFP executive director Bill Hancock. "They will review the working group's recommendation about a potential new format. ... These meetings are a step in a process that will continue at least until this fall."
"If any change is ultimately adopted by the board of managers, it would not take place this season or next season," Hancock said. "The date for implementing any change is one of the key matters that will be discussed."
The in-person conversations June 17-18 in Chicago are the result of two years of exploring possibilities that could alter the format in the future, and they will be the most in-depth discussions the entire group has had on the topic since the BCS ended.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, one of four people on the smaller working group along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, said they were asked "to look at all aspects of the playoff," including "whether or not the selection committee was doing what we wanted it to do and was better than the predecessor's process for selecting teams."
"We were asked to look at the elements of the presentation of the games, what we did in the venues, and what we did around the venues, particularly the championship game," Bowlsby said. "We were also supposed to take a look at structure, with no preconceived notions as to what should happen. Clearly the four-team playoff is superior to all predecessor formats, but we were asked to take a look at strengths and weaknesses and present a report."
In late April, after two days of virtual meetings, the CFP announced that the four-member working group had considered "some 63 possibilities for change," including models with six, eight, 10, 12 and 16 teams, each with a variety of scenarios. Bowlsby said the variations developed from spin-offs of each model.
"We didn't look at 63 different numbers for inclusion in the playoff," he said. "We looked at all of the obvious numbers and a whole bunch of variations of them."
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco, who has been pushing for his league to be elevated from the Group of 5, said he's not sure what to expect from the meeting but does know what he hopes to get out of it.
"We have to be better positioned in the CFP than we've been," Aresco said. "We'd like to be on the same footing as the [Power] 5, that's our goal. I think branding is a huge issue for us. The G5 branding is not who we are. Virtually every metric imaginable shows that in stark terms."
It's possible the commissioners could receive a copy of the report before next week's meetings, but one source said it hasn't been released to the full group yet. Should the 10 FBS commissioners and Swarbrick agree on any changes -- whether it's how the selection committee operates or how many teams should be in the field -- they will present it together June 22 in Dallas to the 11 presidents and chancellors who make up the CFP's board of managers. That group has the ultimate decision-making authority over the CFP.
If the board approves any changes, that would give the commissioners the green light to use this summer to figure out how and if they can actually implement them -- and when. The commissioners would likely report their findings to the board of managers in September. There's no guarantee that anyone will come to a consensus -- or that the presidents will agree with it if they do.
"The expectation is we will get thorough and serious consideration of all the various permutations and then the management committee, if we reach critical mass around a recommendation, we'll forward that to the board," Bowlsby said. "Ultimately, they'll make the decisions."
The CFP is entering its eighth season of a 12-year contractual agreement. All parties involved would have to unanimously agree to change the contract before it expires.
Swarbrick said there's no way to predict if they might reach a consensus.
"We intentionally worked in a very close circle among the working group to try and do the analysis and work through it," he said. "We'll only now start the next step of that process, sharing it with our colleagues and getting their reactions. While I'm really proud of the work product, and I hope others find it compelling, I have no way to evaluate at this point whether they will."