CFP committee still undecided on expansion date, hopeful for 2024 – ESPN

CFP committee still undecided on expansion date, hopeful for 2024 - ESPN

DALLAS — The College Football Playoff governing committee ended yet another lengthy, closed-door meeting Thursday still undecided on when the playoff will expand to 12 teams, but encouraged it could still happen as soon as 2024, CFP executive director Bill Hancock said.

After about six hours, Hancock emerged from an all-too-familiar stuffy, windowless conference room at the DFW airport with few answers about whether the format may change before the start of the 2026 season. The current 12-year contract expires after the 2025 season, and while there are no firm deadlines, the window to change the format in time for the 2024 season continues to shrink rapidly.

“It’s true time is not on our side, but we haven’t given ourselves a deadline,” Hancock said. “It’s more important to get it right than to get it fast.”

There was a sense of optimism going into Thursday’s meeting — multiple sources said they hadn’t heard any good reasons why the finals couldn’t be moved up sooner — but also realized that determining the dates for the games is a significant challenge. that continues, especially with campuses hosting the first-round games. The commissioners continue to struggle with conflicts around the academic calendar, including the beginning of December and final exams, in addition to finding television windows that do not compete with the NFL.

“It’s been a fascinating process because every time you turn over one stone, you start stumbling over other things,” said Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who presided over Thursday’s meeting.

There were also repeated concerns about how the New Year’s Six bowl games would fit into the rotation. The four quarterfinal games and two semifinal games would be played in bowls. The CFP would have to agree on a television contract for the first-round games. (ESPN would retain control, through existing bowl and playoff agreements, of the quarterfinals, semifinals and title game until the current contract expires after the 2025 season.)

“Everybody wants to do this in 11 and 12 if we can,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco, referring to the 11th and 12th years of the current contract. “The prevailing view in the room is can we do it? It’s not like we have much opposition to it.”

If the CFP can implement the new format in time for the 2024 season, it could reap approximately $450 million in gross revenue. Revenue distribution is still a limited part of the discussion, as the Big Ten and SEC are poised to become the sports’ first 16-team superconferences, with a chance to have more representation in the new model.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

“We haven’t spent a lot of time on revenue distribution,” he said. “We have a model that has different numbers in it. That’s out there somewhere.”

There was a different atmosphere after Thursday’s meeting, in that there was a feeling of being closer than ever to a long-awaited resolution. The commissioners’ inability to initially reach consensus is what prompted the 11 university presidents and chancellors, who have ultimate authority over the CFP, to hijack the process this past summer and quickly vote in September to expand the field to 12 teams in 2026. Typically, the commissioners determine the plan and send it to the presidents to stamp.

This was the third in-person meeting of the commissioners as the presidents asserted their authority over the format and charged the executive committee with working out the details to implement it as soon as 2024. The 12-team model includes the six highest-ranked conference champions. and six at-large teams. Team rankings will continue to be determined by the CFP selection committee, which will remain largely unchanged.

The four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four with each receiving a first-round bye. Teams ranked five through 12 will play each other in the first round on either the second or third weekend of December. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in bowl games on a rotating basis, and the championship game will be at a neutral site, as under the current four-team format.

A renewed sense of urgency began this past spring when it became clear that there was still a possibility that Atlanta and Miami could host the national championship games on different dates. In mid-August, the CFP announced that Atlanta would host the national championship in 2025, followed by Miami in January 2026. Hancock said Thursday that Atlanta and Miami are willing to accommodate an extended playoff earlier. The CFP just has to tell them the dates.

“It’s a feeling, a willingness to try,” Sankey said. “That will is still there.”

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