Timing is a big question as college football playoff expansion advances


DALLAS – The ball is rolling towards college football playoff expansion, but administrators are asking for patience before the group makes a final decision.

The CFP board voted on Tuesday to move forward with a feasibility study for a 12-team playoff, but administrators warn playoffs not yet pledging to break a 12-year contract deal with ESPN ahead of the 2026 season. BFC executive director Bill Hancock has previously said the 12-team format could replace the four-team pitch no earlier than 2023.

“I would like to caution observers… not to rush to draw conclusions about what our board may decide,” said Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, chairman of the board. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who was part of a four-person group that developed the 12-team proposal, said on Tuesday that fans expecting a quick jump to a 12-team pitch in 2023 should “temper expectations”.

However, a decision could be taken as early as September 28, when the board of directors of the CFP is expected to meet again.

What could hold up the expansion of the playoffs over the next three years? “Legal issues,” Keenum said. These legal issues relate primarily to ESPN’s televised deal for a four-team playoff that doesn’t expire until the 2025-2026 playoffs are over. The agreements with the boules games are also to be discussed, in particular the boules sites which will host the national championship games until 2024.

The CFP management committee, which is made up of conference commissioners and sports directors, was tasked with leading the feasibility study this summer.

“I want them to do a thorough review and look at all the issues that we need to consider,” Keenum said. “Today has been a very positive day.… I don’t think anyone in the room has had a serious problem with the concept of a 12-team proposal, but the devil is in the details. We have to get into it. details before you can make an informed decision. “

The network of legal details could be worked out over the next few months, but that could delay the implementation of the new format until 2026 or beyond. Still, it’s clear that the decision-makers of college football playoffs – from athletic directors to conference commissioners and school presidents and chancellors – are ready to endorse the creation of a 12-team playoff whenever these issues are addressed. A four-person working group presented the expansion proposal to the CFP’s management committee last week before making a similar presentation, with open discussion, Tuesday to the board of directors, made up of 11 school presidents and rectors. .

The revelation that the CFP was considering expansion was dropped at the end of April, and a wave of activity and decisions have been made since. The next few months should be calm, however, as the CFP conducts its feasibility study on the 12-team format and the logistics of an expanded playoff schedule. It is possible that formal approval of the 12-team playoffs – and fine details such as the allocation of visiting teams tickets to campus games – will be communicated on September 28.

The current deal for a four-team playoff does not expire until after the 2025 season, but the prevailing assumption among sports players is that ESPN is ready to rework the deal to pave the way for a playoff at 12 teams starting as soon as the 2023 season. The playoff administrators are being cautious, however. Many options will be on the table over the summer, including pending the end of the current contract to implement the expansion.

How the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls fit into the figure of the playoff image to dominate the future of the system, as the powerful bowls will certainly influence their place in the new rotation for quarterback games. final and semi-final (if the CFP approves in September a system that includes seven site-neutral games instead of 11). There are the playoff contracts with the New Years Six games as well as separate deals between the Power 5 conferences and top bowls such as the Rose. Remember, the Rose Bowl prefers its game to be played on New Years Day, with traditional clashes between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, and its Tournament of Roses Parade on New Years Day.

The CFP’s four-person task force was formed two years ago to assess the future of the playoffs. The group consists of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Sankey, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick and Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson.


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