NFL scheduling hurdle to work around as college football playoff expands

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – There’s no doubt that the expansion is coming to the college football game. But, the hard work has yet to be tackled as conference delegates work to create a 12-team format starting in 2024.

The Ten CFP Commissioners and Director of Athletics at Notre Dame, Jack SwarbrickAnd the It is set to meet again next week in Chicago to discuss the logistics of expanding early in the 2026 season. This comes as guidance from college presidents and presidents who requested in August The four-team playoff system to be changed once the contract expires after the 2026 season.

The logistics of the new match system are not expected to be settled at next week’s meeting for several reasons. To start, the group cannot hold together when the extended playoff begins due to problems with future academic calendars and the NFL television window that begins in mid-December every football season.

“I expect we are going to spend a lot of time on the calendar,” the SEC commissioner said. Greg Sankey247Sports . said After participating in a Rotary Club talk inside the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum on Tuesday. “I would put the dates of these games at the top of the list of things where we need to spend some time.”

To beat the NFL calendar, it’s possible to play CFP games in an extended field on weekdays and weeknights. Also, they can be held at campus locations during the first round. The NFL avoids scheduling matches on Saturdays for the first two weeks of December, allowing college football to schedule matches without fear of competing head-to-head with the NFL TV ratings. However, the 12-team CFP will present games at least 12 days after the Conference Championship matches. This will create a scenario where games will fall outside this weekend window, forcing the CFP to compete directly with the NFL for viewership.

That leaves CFP with a tough decision to make: Should first-round matches on campus — along with quarter-finals and semi-finals at bowling locations — be scheduled on weeknights? Doing so will be especially problematic for the first round of CFP which will occur during the third week of December when the NFL has the airwaves on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We’ll see. I’ll say ‘probably,'” Sankee explained to 247Sports. “But I don’t know that’s a possibility. I think when you try to play four games it doesn’t happen in one day, but that’s exactly why we’re going to delve into the calendar — to get the full understanding.”

One suggestion in a Tuesday report by The Associated Press The games were scheduled to be played on Saturday when the NFL games will be on Saturday on the NFL Network. However, this does not alleviate the anxiety of competing against the NFL for television audiences. Fewer eyeballs on CFP means less money for conferences. With an estimated $450 million in additional revenue at stake in 2024 and 2025, the thought of a lower-than-expected payout is a troubling topic.

“I think if I were a network, I’d say, ‘If you’re going to force us to play an NFL game, I know my rating will go down so I won’t bid as much,'” Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson For The Associated Press.

If the CFP expands in 2024 or 2025, the new year’s Six Bowls quarterfinals that haven’t already played in the playoff will be played near the new year. The semi-finals at the Cotton and Orange Games will likely be moved between January 8th and January 13th. The problem, again, is that the weekend’s NFL-league wildcard game begins January 11th and ends Monday night. On January 13th. This leaves the weekend matches as a possibility for the CFP’s penultimate matches.

Then, there’s the heavy lifting of the bowl games’ moving dates – especially the semi-finals and tournament locations. The dates for those matches have already been set, including the national championship dates for Atlanta (season 2024) and Miami (2025). Swinging schedule commitments (plus hotel blocks, stadium rentals, team training facilities, and more) will be required for two weeks and may be challenging, if not intolerable.

Simply put, the expectation is that the CFP won’t have many answers when they walk out of a conference room on September 27 despite Sankey’s optimism.

“I expect we’ll make some progress and maybe flip some rocks and find some surprises,” Sankey said.

A series of meetings with FBS commissioners and Swarbrick is scheduled for the fall.