CFP expansion stalls as commissioners sort through issues

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the trophy for the College Football Playoff championship NCAA college football game is displayed along Ocean Drive, in Miami Beach, Fla. The College Football Playoff management committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, to discuss the feedback members have received from campuses since a 12-team expansion plan was unveiled in June. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A plan to expand the College Football Playoff stalled Wednesday when the management committee was unable to come to a consensus on a whether to grow the postseason format from four to 12 teams.

The 10 major college conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director who make up the management committee met to share feedback from their members and address concerns about the expansion proposal that was unveiled in June.

“As the committee moves forward, there remains issues to be discussed,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “Given the complexity of these matters, the management committee will meet again in Chicago next week to continue our discussions.”

The meeting in the Dallas area, which was attended in person by some of the participants and virtually by others, was a prelude to the Chicago session that was supposed to include the CFP board of managers.

The board is comprised of university presidents and chancellors representing each conference. The board has final say in all matters related to the playoff and there was hope the management committee would bring the presidents a recommendation to approve a format change.

Instead, the management committee will reconvene next week, with the presidents joining via Zoom. No vote is expected.

Since the public rollout of the 12-team playoff plan, there have been concerns raised about components of the format, including the possibility of increasing the number of games in a season required to play for a championship to as much as 17. There were also concerns about the impact subsequent conference realignment could have on a new version of the CFP.

In July, the Southeastern Conference invited Texas and Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 and join the powerhouse league in 2025 after the Big 12's current television contracts expire.

The Big 12 responded by inviting American Athletic Conference members Houston, Cincinnati and Central Florida to join the league along with BYU, which is a football independent that also competes in the West Coast Conference.

The 12-team plan was developed over two years by four members of the management committee: SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. The group studied various formats, including six, eight and 16 teams.

During that time the subcommittee was working on expansion, three Power Five conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 — hired new commissioners.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who officially stepped into the job July 1, and Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, who took over January 2020 — a year after the subcommittee began work on expansion — have both publicly supported CFP expansion but have stopped short of fully endorsing the 12-team proposal.

“As we said in June when the 12-team playoff was proposed, that was the first step in a long process," Hancock said. "It is vital that all issues be fully explored and addressed.


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