CFP expansion has bumpy road ahead

CFP expansion has bumpy road ahead

Football

CFP expansion has bumpy road ahead

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Last month the College Football Playoff Management Committee presented an initial proposal to expand the playoff to 12 teams.

The largest incentive for expansion is increased revenue which Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports estimated could jump to over $1 Billion with the addition of eight more teams and eight more games.

The move means that a team could potentially play a 17 game college season which pushes television money through the roof.

But there are a lot of questions the management committee is seeking to answer before it makes a formal presentation to the CFP Board of Governors in September. During its June meeting in Chicago the group was tasked with compiling a feasibility report to analyze the positive and negative impacts of an expanded field.

Playoff expansion faces unique challenges in terms of scheduling and television contracts.

The current CFP contract with ESPN extends to the 2025-26 season and brings in between $500-$600 million each year. And the committee made it clear that the change will not come until 2024 at the earliest.

In terms of scheduling, the new playoff would run from the middle of December until mid-January and risk infringing on conference championship games and the NFL playoff schedule. In 2022 the NFL Wild Card games are scheduled to kick off on Jan. 15-16.

Another part of the feasibility study requires analyzing how the expanded season impacts the health of student-athletes. The current 15 game schedule for teams that make it to a conference championship game and the CFP title game already takes a physical toll on teams.

The national championship game is played on Jan. 11 this season which gives student-athletes a short break after the game before mat drills get underway in February and schools start spring practice in March.

Other than the financial incentive for expanding the CFP, another big reason for the change is providing opportunity to more teams and conferences.

CFP Chaiman and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby stressed this point in teleconferences with the media this summer.

Which makes sense after his conference made headlines in 2014 for missing out on the playoff after TCU and Baylor both finished with one loss and were left out in favor of Ohio State.

But North Carolina head coach Mack Brown pushed back on that narrative this week saying his players don’t want to make the CFP just because it expands but want the playoff to be a competition for the best of the best.

“They wanted the playoffs to be about who is good enough to win all the games or win the national championship, not just have a bunch of teams involved,” Brown said.

The management committee also has to consider the issue of travel costs that will rise significantly even for teams like Clemson who are used to playing in the CFP.

In the proposed model teams in the first round seeded 5-8 get to host a playoff game but the top four have to play their first game at a neutral site. This not only impacts the athletic departments involved but could lead to travel exhaustion for fans.

In short, the CFP Management Committee still has a lot to think about before its presentation to the board of governors in September.

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