The expansion of the College Football Playoff continues to trend toward happening later rather than sooner. That’s if it happens at all.
The Atlantic Coast Conference opposes the idea of increasing the playoff field from the four it’s been at since the CFP’s inception in 2014. At least for now.
“The membership of the ACC is very much aligned in its position that now is not the time to expand the College Football Playoff,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said Friday, according to Brett McMurphy of The Action Network.
Conference commissioners from the Football Bowl Subdivision have been discussing the idea of expanding the playoff for a while. A subcommittee comprised of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick proposed a 12-team model over the summer, which would include the six highest-ranked conference champions and six at-large teams.
But there hasn’t been much progress made toward a resolution since.
Not everyone agrees on the number of teams or how those teams are chosen. Phillips has never come out publicly in support of expansion of any kind. When the ACC teamed up with the Big Ten and Pac-12 over the summer to form the Alliance, he said then the ACC was still torn on whether or not to support it.
The decision to expand has to be unanimous among the conferences. If that alignment doesn’t happen soon, expansion would likely have to until 2026, when the playoff’s current TV contract with ESPN expires.
Phillips revealed to reporters Friday that, as talks continued, the ACC was in favor of an eight-team playoff at one point, but now the league isn’t in favor of any sort of expansion for the time being, reiterating the conference believes “this is not the right time” for it, according to The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel.
“It’s been our position since the middle of November or so,” Phillips said.
Disagreements about the number of teams and how those teams are selected aren’t the only reasons for the holdup. Phillips said his league still isn’t comfortable with asking teams to play more games than they already have to in a season, a concern Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has also expressed in the past.
Questions about an expansion’s effect on the current bowl structure and media rights are still unanswered. There’s also college athletics’ changing landscape with the transfer portal and name, image and likeness opportunities for athletes that’s a higher priority for some conferences and their leaders for the time being.
But with Clemson falling out of the top 4, Phillips’ conference was left out of the playoff for the first time ever this season. Pittsburgh, the ACC champion, finished No. 12 in the final CFP rankings.
Expansion of some sort would go a long way toward preventing that in the future, but the chances of that happening as soon as possible are getting slimmer by the day.
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