Commissioners decline CFP expansion after Pac-12 request

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 1, 2020

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The conference commissioners who manage the College Football Playoff decided to stick with a four-team format during this pandemic-altered season after the Pac-12 made a request to consider expansion.

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College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said Wednesday that Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott asked the rest of management committee to consider having eight teams play for the national championship this season. ESPN first reported Scott broaching the subject.

The request was made because of disruptions to the season caused by the pandemic. Conferences are not playing the same number of games, are starting play at different times and there are no interconference matchups between Power Five leagues.

Hancock said the committee, with 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, had a “civil and thoughtful discussion.”

“To do it now, it’s such a significant change with so many challenges, especially with the season started, they thought it was best to not make a change,” Hancock said.

Hancock added any decision on expansion would need the approval of the CFP’s presidential oversight committee after a recommendation by commissioners.

The playoff semifinals are scheduled for Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The national championship game is set for Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Scott declined a request for comment through a Pac-12 spokesman.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the AP he was happy to have the discussion, but it was apparent there was not enough support among the group to continue talking about what he called “a Herculean task.”

“There probably could be multiple motivations. Some probably just like their position and were happy to have it play itself out as originally planned. Others probably saw it as perhaps an opportunity for more slots that weren’t available previously,” Bowlsby said.

“Those kinds of things we were never going to do without something close to unanimity. It was obvious from the discussion we weren’t going to get close to that.”

The Pac-12 postponed its fall football season Aug. 11, but changed course last week and decided to have a seven-game season starting Nov. 7.

“(Scott) should have asked for it in their circumstance because they’re going to have fewer games than most everybody else,” Bowlsby said.

The Big Ten also decided to conduct a fall season after initially postponing and have set plans to have its teams play as many as nine games, starting Oct. 24.

The Mid-American Athletic Conference (six games) and Mountain West (eight games) are also starting late.

The Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 are already up and running among the Power Five leagues. The SEC is planning to play a 10-game regular season, all in the conference.

The Big 12 has a 10-game regular-season schedule, with one home non-conference game for each team. ACC teams have an 11-game, regular-season schedule with one home non-conference game.

Outside the Power Five, the American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt and Conference USA have permitted their schools to play up to 12 total games.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco is the one member of the management committee who has publicly suggested playoff expansion in the past. He said he was supported having the conversation, but doing it now just wasn’t feasible.

“The logistical problems are pretty significant,” he said.