The College Football Playoff’s board of governors will hold a virtual meeting Friday that could speed up expansion of the playoff as early as 2024 if the 11 presidents and chancellors who make up the sport’s most powerful group vote on a format and unanimously agree about it, sources confirmed to ESPN. on wednesday
“There is momentum,” a source with knowledge of the conversations told ESPN. “There’s definitely momentum.”
The source indicated that it was 50-50 whether there would be any vote. Sports Illustrated first reported the meeting.
CFP executive director Bill Hancock declined to confirm or deny the report. The CFP’s executive committee, which consists of the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, is expected to meet next week to continue its expansion discussions, but members are waiting to hear what the presidents will decide — if anything — – on Friday.
If there is a move to an expanded final within the current contract, this meeting would give the commissioners an opportunity to explore the details of the structure set by the presidents.
The CFP is entering the final four years of a 12-year contract with ESPN that expires after the 2025 season. To expand before the contract ends, there must be a unanimous decision of the presidents and chancellors.
Typically, the commissioners are tasked with figuring out the model, and if they can unanimously agree on it, they would present it to the board of managers for its approval, as the presidents and chancellors have the ultimate authority over the final.
After 10 months of debates and often tense meetings filled with mistrust that played out publicly, the commissioners ended discussions with an 8-3 vote in February. The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 voted against the original 12-team proposal that included the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next six highest-ranked teams.
By choosing to stick with four teams for four more years, the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame lost about $450 million in potential revenue. Since then, the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 have expressed public support for expansion.
In July, at Pac-12 media days, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told ESPN that he thought it would be possible for the format to change before the contract is up.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been to agreeing on a format,” he said. “The lack of agreement on format prevented us from doing it quickly, rather slowly.
“I said that back when we originally met about this. Once you agree on a format, you can shoehorn that into the existing contract. If we agree on what it looks like beyond the existing contract, why wouldn’t you try to make it faster. ?”
While there is a sense that the process is moving very quickly, sources have indicated that there is also concern that it could now be rushed, with too many unanswered questions remaining. If the presidents voted on a format, there is still debate among the commissioners over whether conference champions would automatically qualify for a berth, how revenue would be distributed and what the bowl system would look like — particularly the Rose Bowl.
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said his conference is open to 12 or 16 teams, and that giving all 10 FBS conference champions automatic bids “would be ideal.”
“That would invigorate and really help college football become a lot healthier,” Aresco said. “It would make a championship game weekend huge. We think a 16-team playoff is something we should absolutely consider, and if it included 10 automatics and six at-larges it would be great for college football.”
Further conference realignment also remains a factor, as sources have indicated that Big Ten expansion beyond the expected additions of USC and UCLA is possible.
The presidents also met earlier this month and briefly discussed the possibility of restructuring how college football is governed, with one idea being to put the FBS under the control of the CFP.
“I think it is very much alive and discussions, like with the CFP, continue to progress,” said a source.