Why the CFP is not expanding, what people are saying and what’s next

4:45 PM ETHeather DinichESPN Senior Writer Close College football reporter Joined ESPN.com in 2007 Graduate of Indiana UniversityFor more than eight months, leaders of the College Football Playoff have been unable to unanimously agree on what the future format of the sport's postseason should look like. This week, they finally agreed to disagree, recommitting to…

4: 45 PM ET

  • Heather DinichESPN Senior Author


    • College football reporter
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
    • Graduate of Indiana College

For larger than eight months, leaders of the College Soccer Playoff had been unable to unanimously agree on what the long creep structure of the game’s postseason must peruse relish. This week, they at final agreed to disagree, recommitting to the four-team structure for the next four years. Friday’s data ended all speculation about whether or no longer the playoff would prolong sooner than the present contract expires following the 2025 season.

That the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick were unable to agree to the specifics of a 12-team structure used to be no longer surprising, angry by that is exactly what has took set for the length of their previous nine in-person meetings. (That capabilities three straight days of meetings sooner than the national championship sport in January.) Nothing changed Wednesday afternoon, when they had a excessive videoconference to bring together out whether or no longer it used to be worth persevering with to test out to push ahead in spite of their variations.

“Positions in point of fact had no longer changed, and we had time to imagine it,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco knowledgeable ESPN on Friday. “It wasn’t a prolonged call, but we talked it over, and if positions hadn’t changed, it used to be going to be a posh promote.”

On Thursday, the 11 faculty presidents and chancellors who possess the authority to commerce the playoff licensed a recommendation from the 10 FBS commissioners and Swarbrick to remain at four groups for the rest of the 12-year contract, which runs during the 2025 season. Because there are mild two years final on the present deal, the vote to construct any changes needed to be unanimous. CFP govt director Invoice Hancock joined this week’s discussions from Beijing, China, the set he’s a volunteer for the Winter Olympics.

Most of us all in favour of the CFP growth discussions who spoke to ESPN possess described the direction of and its as frustrating and disappointing — a 180-stage flip from when the usual proposal used to be made public on June 10. The 12-team structure used to be before all the pieces applauded by many followers, coaches, media people and others who be aware the game and possess long clamored for a more colossal CFP machine.

“There are 1,000 football avid gamers roughly from eight groups that can possibly possibly had been part of a national championship, and I think all of them would hunger for that replacement,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey knowledgeable ESPN, “yet they would possibly possibly no longer be.”

How this advanced from celebration to stalemate would be traced help to arguably the most tumultuous summer time within the history of faculty athletics. Handiest actual during the previous few months, though, possess a bunch of complications that slowed and within the waste derailed the opinion been raised.

ESPN spoke with quite a bit of commissioners and Hancock over the previous two months to dispute their own praises how it ended with the placement quo:

How the 12-team proposal originated

The annual CFP meetings in January 2019 in Santa Clara, California, were a bunch of.

Whereas publicly downplaying rumblings of growth, the presidents and chancellors discreetly directed the commissioners and Swarbrick to survey the likelihood and file help in a year. It used to be the midpoint of the 12-year deal, and whereas there wasn’t any evident field with the present structure, the presidents had agreed it used to be a appropriate form time to care for in mind if it would possibly possibly possibly be better. That June, the CFP organized the working group of Astronomical 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Sankey, Swarbrick and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson.

On the behest of the presidents, they started digging into “some 63 possibilities for commerce,” including units with six, eight, 10, 12 and 16 groups — every with a range of eventualities. To settle on the 12-team opinion they would within the waste unveil, concessions needed to be made. Swarbrick agreed to a machine in which Notre Dame as an self ample would never procure a first-spherical bye that used to be awarded easiest to convention champions. And yet, he stated the relationships among the four people “used to be as positive as any committee I’d ever served on.”

Two years after the working group fashioned, it offered a 12-team model that can possibly possibly embody the six top seemingly-ranked convention champions and the next six top seemingly-ranked groups. When the subcommittee people explained it to the a bunch of seven commissioners for the major time, Thompson stated, “There used to be broad acceptance.”

Why the 12-team proposal used to be released on June 10, 2021

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff, who started in his characteristic on July 1, 2021, hadn’t technically started when he shadowed outdated faculty commissioner Larry Scott on the major playoff growth meeting in Dallas. ACC commissioner Jim Phillips had been on the job for a mere five months.

When the proposal used to be before all the pieces announced, there used to be no guarantee it’d be rubber-stamped — rather, these titillating cautioned over and over it used to be “the major step in a long direction of” — however the free up used to be interpreted by many as an encouraging tag that a 12-team playoff would happen within the waste.

For Kliavkoff, that used to be part of the suppose. He knowledgeable ESPN in January he had “completely no complications with the direction of or the work that the subcommittee did,” but that the general public dispute their own praises would possibly possibly need impacted its possibilities of passing.

“My field with what took set used to be, never within the history of faculty athletics has there been an announcement of a model that every person that compulsory to agree to that model on had no longer yet agreed to,” he stated. “Within the occasion you grunt the model sooner than every person who wants to agree to it agrees to it, you construct an assumption that it be a done deal and upright wants a rubber imprint.

“I wish we would possibly possibly possess no longer shared that with the general public till every person that needed to agree to it had had the replacement to work during the few complications we had. I think we would possibly possibly’ve been done already.”

Hancock knowledgeable ESPN in January the CFP has continuously operated with subcommittees who present their work to a bigger group, and has over and over stated the group has no regrets about publicizing the 12-team structure sooner than it used to be licensed. A pair of commissioners possess stated there used to be suppose about misinformation being leaked.

“In actual fact, the intent used to be the proposal be offered to of us on campus — dozens of of us on campus — and we knowing it’d be most effective to grunt it so every person had the the same knowledge,” Hancock stated.

The opinion used to be to use the summer time to solicit feedback in every convention from university presidents, athletic directors, coaches and athletes. There used to be one diagram that when they met again in September, there used to be a appropriate form likelihood the presidents would give the commissioners the fairway light to establish how and when to genuinely enforce a new machine. Not decrease than, there used to be positive momentum.

As yet any other, it never bought to a vote.

When sentiment started to commerce

The general public free up of the opinion used to be the major bombshell of a 2021 summer time stuffed with an unparalleled amount of commerce in college athletics — drastic selections which possess altered your entire landscape since 2019, when the working group used to be first fashioned. Some possess surmised growth would had been agreed to in 2020, had COVID-19 no longer handed the commissioners an fully separate, all-sharp daily suppose.

The implementation of name, image and likeness (NIL), a landmark Supreme Court resolution and convention realignment shook the game, and their affect remains to be felt nowadays. The NCAA no longer too long ago licensed a new constitution that can gallop into operate Aug. 1. The mix of these occasions is a prime purpose the ACC has place the brakes on growth.

Phillips, who served on the NCAA’s constitution committee and transformation committee — both tasked with restructuring the group’s governance — acknowledged publicly in mid-January that his convention used to be united in its stance that “that is no longer the true form time for growth.”

“We possess necessary concerns surrounding a proposed growth model, though we would be supportive of future growth as soon as and if these concerns are addressed,” he stated. “The membership believes that we possess a responsibility in having a peruse on the CFP and college football from a holistic perspective and no longer upright whether or no longer to add more groups to a playoff. Collectively, we possess grand larger complications going through us than whether or no longer to develop the CFP early by two years.”

Contemporary leaders in three of the five strongest conferences within the country possess changed the discussion — and the chemistry within the meetings.

“We had of us who were coming into the room with very new systems of thinking,” Astronomical Ten commissioner Kevin Warren knowledgeable ESPN final month. “You perceive, upright a bunch of backgrounds. Wide tips. … So it upright seems relish after we started meeting in June, we were mild formulating the people within the room who had some very ahead-thinking tips that positively compulsory to be heard.”

Last August, Kliavkoff, Phillips and Warren fashioned “The Alliance,” which on the time used to be supposed to form scheduling partnerships, dispute together relish-minded tutorial institutions and stabilize a landscape that used to be again uncertain with yet any other spherical of realignment — none more drastic than Astronomical 12 co-founders Oklahoma and Texas asserting their intent to within the waste gallop to the SEC. That transfer space the stage for the already-dominant league to change into the Energy 5’s first 16-team superconference.

Sankey, whose dual roles in convention realignment and playoff growth had been questioned by some, has over and over pointed out his convention never advocated for a bigger playoff. On the replacement, he described the league’s willingness to even resolve in a conversation angry by growth “an unlimited give.” Scott, the outdated faculty leader within the Pac-12, and outdated faculty Astronomical Ten commissioner Jim Delany before all the pieces made the most intelligent push for growth.

Nobody will put out of your mind, though, the day Oklahoma and Texas decided to hitch the SEC.

“There used to be an initial burst of enthusiasm and enhance when it got right here out,” Aresco knowledgeable ESPN final month. “But I think the growth, the realignment — the realignment positively threw a wrench into it. I don’t think it will must possess within the tip because of I think it be a appropriate form opinion and I think we need it for faculty football. But I attain think that paused it to a level.”

Few, if any, expected the stay to final into 2022.

“Here is my 35th year as a Division I commissioner,” Thompson, the most senior convention leader within the room, stated in January. “I’ve been on the [Division I] Council twice, the men’s basketball committee twice. I’ve been in a good deal of meeting rooms with a good deal of chums. I in point of fact possess never seen the hardened positions and, ‘We’re no longer going to whisk, no longer going to give, don’t are looking to chat about compromise.’ I’ve never seen that in intercollegiate athletics.”

Why it fell apart

There are multiple causes — and it be unfair and incorrect to pin it on one convention or person — however the most evident are the ACC’s stance that now is no longer the true form time to develop, and the Astronomical Ten’s public push for computerized qualifiers. The Astronomical Ten did desire growth for the length of the present contract, but additionally shared concerns within the room about revenue distribution and the Rose Bowl’s relationships with the Pac-12, Astronomical Ten and CFP.

“To be very clear, the Astronomical Ten Conference supports growth of the College Soccer Playoff machine — for our pupil-athletes, member institutions and followers,” Warren stated in an announcement Friday. “Expansion offers elevated opportunities, publicity and price for our member institutions, pupil-athletes, coaches, football groups and athletic applications. I belief that we are going to proceed to collectively deal with the unresolved matters and transfer ahead with growth for the larger appropriate form of faculty football.”

Phillips pointed to a pair major causes for the league’s reluctance: too many unanswered questions as it relates to the wisely being and safety of the athletes; the “total disruption in college athletics,” including the new NCAA constitution and a determined plea for federal legislation as it relates to NIL; and a 365-day “holistic overview” of policy as it relates to the game.

Even supposing the ACC champion, No. 12 Pitt, would possess qualified for a 12-team playoff had it existed this year, Phillips stated his coaches are unanimous of their knowing that “that is no longer the true form time.”

“We possess tried to procure feedback from [our athletes] and for us, it be been Clemson,” he stated in January. “They place no longer are looking to play to any extent additional video games. They place no longer.”

What used to be the vote?

A pair of sources confirmed to ESPN the vote used to be 8-3, with the Astronomical Ten, Pac-12 and ACC voting in opposition to growth. Keenum’s resolution to stutter quite a bit of media outlets the vote on Friday reignited a mistrust actual during the room that has been smoldering since the summer time.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff knowledgeable Jon Wilner of the Bay House Data Neighborhood, “I’m disheartened that the belief inbuilt the CFP room is being injured by the disclosure of incomplete and subsequently incorrect knowledge in regards to the voting complications that kept the CFP group from agreeing on growth.”

The motion that used to be delivered to the table for the commissioners to vote on didn’t smash up playoff growth into the present contract and yet any other vote for Yr 13 and beyond. As yet any other, it used to be one positive or no vote on increasing the playoff below the originally proposed 12-team model with the six top seemingly-ranked convention champions and the next six top seemingly-ranked groups.

Whereas the three commissioners who voted in opposition to it fashioned “The Alliance,” their causes for his or her votes weren’t exactly aligned.

The ACC had made its set clear — both publicly and privately — so that vote wasn’t a shock. Nor used to be the truth the Astronomical Ten and Pac-12 felt there were lingering unanswered complications, namely with the Rose Bowl and the unknown revenue distribution in Yr 13. With out radiant the TV contract, the CFP would possibly possibly no longer answer how the revenue would be shared beyond the present term.

“I’ve requested to possess a discussion about what the revenue splits peruse relish beyond Yr 12 if we’re going to agree to develop,” Kliavkoff stated no longer too long ago on “The Paul Finebaum Make clear.” “I’ve never signed a contract settlement in my life the set I don’t know the financial phrases, but I’ve agreed to develop the contract.”

The Rose Bowl remains to be a prime sticking level within the room. Whereas some in point of fact feel it be an field that would be resolved, these all in favour of the contract with the Rose Bowl portion concerns about it changing into devalued. Traditionally, the Rose Bowl pits the Astronomical Ten champion in opposition to the Pac-12 champion, but if these groups are within the CFP — as they possess got been now and again for the length of the present playoff structure — the Rose Bowl takes the next top seemingly-ranked groups from these leagues. In an expanded the playoff, a well-liked Rose Bowl would likely be getting the third-most effective team from the Pac-12 and the perchance the fourth-most effective from the Astronomical Ten, on life like, as the pinnacle groups would nearly assuredly be ranked within the pinnacle 12.

The Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl don’t are looking to possess a semifinal competing in opposition to the bowl sport within the the same veteran Contemporary Yr’s Day three-hour TV window. The question would additionally be a protection for the a bunch of bowls which possess contracts with Energy 5 conferences, the Sugar and Orange Bowls.

“What we’re inquiring for for the Rose Bowl is a miniature slight quiz,” Kliavkoff knowledgeable Finebaum. “We possess requested for three hours every three years to be protected in opposition to having to compete in opposition to a CFP quarterfinal. … Not a gargantuan quiz. It be complicated to develop the College Soccer Playoff and additionally retain onto the broad traditions we possess within the bowl video games. We’re looking to attain that. It be a posh steadiness.”

What of us within the game are asserting about this resolution

Whereas many are clearly pissed off with a lack of progress in direction of growth, Swarbrick knowledgeable ESPN on Friday that when the people of the committee developed the proposal, they realized it’d be complicated to pass because of the vote needed to be unanimous if changes were going to be made sooner than the contract expires.

“In a suppose the set you are requiring a unanimous vote,” Swarbrick stated, “every person has 100 p.c leverage.

“I bring to mind us within the long creep operated in opposition to their broader self-passion,” Swarbrick stated. “That is continuously an odd circumstance and it is miles frustrating. The issues that bought within the manner were issues that were indispensable to of us. Usually it be hard to establish the steadiness between these complications and the larger advantages. Every person has their contain gape.”

Hancock, who spoke to ESPN on Friday from China, stated he’s been around long ample “to know that setbacks are usually short.” Hancock stated he mild believes an expanded self-discipline is that you would possibly possibly possibly be imagine within the next contract.

“I know because of I’ve heard the administration committee and the board focus on about it that they would all relish to explore the CFP prolong, but for Years 11 and 12 there were upright quite a bit of issues that stood within the manner,” he stated. “Not upright one thing, but quite a bit of.”

Sankey stated that actual during the direction of, the SEC has made “concessions that in our gape were pretty nice.”

“Alabama and Georgia didn’t must play yet any other sport to level to they were the two most effective groups within the country and that Georgia used to be the national champion,” he stated. “Yet we were titillating to adapt to widespread expectations to construct opportunities. Others weren’t titillating to adapt to construct these opportunities. So we will must rethink our views if at some level this direction of reengages.”

Aresco knowledgeable ESPN on Friday that “it be unhappy” and “he’s dissatisfied,” however the level of passion now wants to be on 2026.

“I bring to mind us possess upright variations and I’m no longer going to select shots at someone,” he stated. “I bring to mind us possess upright variations of knowing on this, and I in point of fact possess broad appreciate for every person on the committee. We’re all chums, we upright have not been ready to procure there. I wish childhood would possess the replacement in ’24, ’25 because of I attain think it be prone to happen down the aspect street anyway.”

What’s subsequent?

The commissioners and Swarbrick must bring together out what the playoff will peruse relish in 2026 and beyond. It be for the time being a blank slate, though Swarbrick knowledgeable ESPN on Friday he mild believes the structure will within the waste prolong.

“Fully,” Swarbrick stated. “This would possibly possibly. In our discussions, every person within the room reiterated their passion in growth. Nobody ever stated no growth. This would possibly possibly prolong. I think we’re presumably 30 days, 45 days previous when the staunch minimize-off date used to be. As soon as you are going to head early, there would possibly be stuff you needed to attain. We upright would possibly possibly no longer procure there in time.”

Hancock knowledgeable ESPN in January that in Yr 13, they desire a majority of the administration committee to agree to it — including three of the Energy 5 commissioners. Every person else at that level can capture whether or no longer they are looking to participate within the playoff.

When requested what your next step is, Sankey stated, “Well, I upright spent three years looking to make contributions to that direction of. So we will look.”

One thing the commissioners attain agree on is opening the conversation to multiple television companions. ESPN is the odd playoff rights holder within the present settlement.

“Our negotiating window with ESPN begins in October of 2024, so clearly we will work help from that because of every person is aware of this will likely possibly pick some time to construct a structure we are able to are looking to pitch to television,” Hancock stated. “We don’t know how long. We place no longer desire a date space. There would possibly be larger than ample time to procure this appropriate form for the ’26-27 season.”

Mississippi Divulge president Mark Keenum, the chair of the CFP’s board of managers and the lone public dispute of the college presidents, knowledgeable ESPN they are all titillating to proceed working in direction of increasing the playoff — but it undoubtedly’s on the commissioners to resolve their complications.

“The immediacy of the stress of looking to procure one thing done has been relieved, but nonetheless, we don’t are looking to procrastinate,” he stated. “There would possibly be unanimity among the presidents on this.”

Keenum stated they possess to select within the next 24 to 30 months, and he acknowledged grand will proceed to commerce within that span. Oklahoma and Texas possess stated they would be part of the SEC starting with the 2025-26 tutorial year. The Astronomical Ten’s media rights deal expires in 2023, the Pac-12 follows in 2024 and the Astronomical 12’s kind out Fox and ESPN expires in 2025. Keenum stated that ongoing and/or upcoming media rights offers for these leagues is really a “mammoth” part of future playoff discussions.

“The media rights that are being negotiated by the respective conferences, that goes to be a gargantuan element going ahead,” he stated. “I don’t look the additions of Texas and Oklahoma having that gargantuan of an affect on the structure field — I upright don’t look that — but I know the negotiations rising, they’re going to possess an affect.”

The CFP additionally has yet to formally grunt the host cities for the closing two seasons of the present contract, though ESPN has beforehand reported the playoff is angry by Las Vegas and Miami.

“We can procure to that as soon as we are able to,” Hancock stated.

The 2023 national title sport can be held Jan. 9 in Los Angeles, California, followed by Houston on Jan. 8, 2024.