North Texas athletic director Wren Baker and coach Seth Littrell both endorsed a proposal on Thursday that would expand the College Football Playoff.
The CFP management committee heard the proposal to move from a four-team to a 12-team playoff early in the afternoon.
The proposal recommends a format that would have the six highest-rated conference champions in a field along with the six high-ranked teams that did not win a conference title as determined by the CFP’s selection committee.
No conference would have an automatic berth in the playoffs under the plan.
The format would further open the door for teams outside the Power Five conferences — the Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, ACC and Big Ten — to earn a spot in the playoff.
UNT is a member of Conference USA, one of the Group of Five conferences that have been left on the outside looking in when it comes to competing for a national title.
“We see the potential expansion of the College Football Playoff as a very positive development for our football program and Conference USA,” Baker said. “The proposed 12-team model guarantees a spot for a team outside the five highest resourced conferences and would have resulted in two teams from outside those conferences participating in the playoff this past season.
“I believe it is critical that every student-athlete has a path has a path for competing at the highest level and this ensures access for our football athletes.”
Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference and Coastal Carolina of the Sun Belt both finished in the top 12 of the CFP rankings last season. Neither was included in the four-team playoff.
The 12-team format will be discussed more extensively next week by the CFP’s management committee during a meeting in Chicago.
The proposal was formulated by a sub-group of the CFP management committee that includes Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.
The group issued a statement after presenting their proposal.
“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the statement said. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”
The commissioners of the 10 college football conferences and Swarbrick are hoping to quickly come to an agreement on a new format for the playoff during their meeting on June 17-18.
The proposal would have the four highest-rated conference champions seeded 1-4. Each would have a first-round bye. The next eight teams would play in the first round with the highest-ranked team hosting.
The quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games. The national championship would be played at a neutral site.
The college football commissioners will forward their recommendations to the College Football board of managers. That board that includes 11 university presidents and chancellors will meet on June 22 in Dallas.
“Now that the working group has presented its proposal, the management committee will solicit input from university presidents, coaches, athletics directors, student-athletes and others,” said Bill Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff. “That input will help inform what the management committee recommends to the ultimate decision-makers — the presidents and chancellors who serve on the board of managers.”
Baker and Littrell left little doubt what their feelings are on expansion.
“The expansion of the College Football Playoff is exciting for Conference USA and North Texas football,” Littrell said. “This opportunity gives our student-athletes added motivation to work toward the goals we have established for our program by competing in bowl games each year and now a chance to have access to the highest level of postseason play.
“That opportunity is what our coaching staff and student-athletes strive for.”