The College Football Playoff's management committee confirmed a report from Sports Illustrated earlier on Thursday that a sub-group working committee has recommending an expansion of the playoffs from four to 12.

The CFP says the recommendation is the first step in a process that will not be concluded before the fall.

“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the four-person working group said in a statement. “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 proposed 12-team field would be made up of the six highest-ranked conference champions plus six at-large bids, selected by the CFP selection committee. The four highest-ranked champions would receive first-round byes, while the other eight teams would play on-campus games to narrow the field down to eight quarterfinalists with No.5 hosting No.12, No.6 hosting No.11, No.10 visiting No.7 and No.8 playing host to No.9. No conferences would automatically qualify and there would be no maximum number of teams from any given conference. The quarterfinal and semi-final stages would be played as bowl games. There would be a set bracket with no reseeding once the playoffs begin.

The next step for the recommendation comes next week at a 11-member committee meeting in Chicago. Should it advance from that meeting, it would be forwarded to the CFP board of managers who are scheduled to meet in Dallas on June 22.

“This is a very exciting moment for college football,” the working group members said in the statement. “We think we can capture what student-athletes and fans love about the game and extend it to more people in more places, while enhancing what’s great about the regular season.”

The current CFP format came into existence in  2014. It was preceded by the Bowl Championship Series (1998 to 2013), the Bowl Alliance (1995 to 1997) and the Bowl Coalition (1992 to 1996) in determining a national champion.

The reigning national champions, Alabama, have won three of the seven titles contested under the current format.