Contained in the inevitable enlargement of the School Soccer Playoffs and why it will likely be removed from simple
For a man with a journalistic background, Bill Hancock now knows for sure that he must bury the leadership.
In a statement on Friday that summarized the spring meetings of the college football playoffs, the CFP’s executive director waited until paragraph 17 to discharge a bit of shock: a working group modeled expansion options, with up to 16 teams in a playoff against each other could compete.
It was all but forgotten that the CFP Board had commissioned the 2019 Working Group from the CFP Administrative Committee. COVID-19 has slowed this group’s progress so far.
As it turns out, five playoff options are being considered, including six, eight, 10, 12, or 16 teams.
The existence of this working group – made up of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Notre Dame Sporting Director Jack Swarbrick, and Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson – and the details of their progress to date seem to point to an expansion of the working group’s CFP bracket is an inevitability.
After teasing us with Friday’s nugget, Hancock spent the following days making calls about the details of the extension.
“When a butterfly flaps its wings over the CFP, it makes news,” he told CBS Sports.
Unless you throw raw meat at lions and are surprised by a feeding frenzy. Hancock was the one who further lured the hook by noting that “63 possibilities” of an expanded playoff model were being discussed.
Even so, there will be no format change this or the next season.
“If I were a reporter, I’d have to report the timing is unclear,” said Hancock.
Even if the extension of the bracket is approved this year, it would take at least two years to implement. This suggests that the current 12-year contract with ESPN could be changed before it expires at the end of the 2025 season.
Previously it was assumed that the size of the playoff field would only change after this contract expired.
Now that the prospect is on the table, expansion seems inevitable. CBS Sports spoke to several sources directly or indirectly involved in the process for an introduction to the future of the CFP.
The enlargement of the CFP could soon be approved
… but will it be? Probably not.
The FBS commissioners will meet on June 17th and 18th at the end of the annual Collegiate Commissioners Association meeting, which will be held in person in Chicago this year. The commissioners will meet with the CFP board in Dallas next week.
The working group will exchange further information between these groups at this point. The next date to watch is the autumn meeting between the commissioners and the presidents (date to be set). Then the presidents could take a step. You would have to decide unanimously.
The complexity of the situation was highlighted as an important issue by almost every source contacted by CBS Sports. Due to COVID-19, this working group had essentially submitted a work year. The fact that as much as a 16-team group is being considered only adds to the work ahead.
For an organization that keeps its business so secret, an administrator was ticked that so many details were released on Friday.
“We honestly have not talked about the playoff expansion in any detail,” said the source. “We talked a little about the process.”
One person with knowledge of the situation described the sudden announcement on Friday as follows: “Now everyone’s antenna is up and vibrating.”
Who has the most to lose / to gain?
On the surface, the Big 12 and Pac-12 should be big fans of an extended playoff. The Pac-12 has been to GFP twice in seven years and has missed the last five in a row. These are the only two Power Five conferences that have not yet won a national championship in the CFP era.
That does not necessarily mean that their conference presidents would vote in favor of enlargement. The Pac-12 is having a hard time finding a new commissioner. The Big 12 has never made it to a semi-finals. Oklahoma has lost all four of the Big 12’s CFP appearances.
Only 11 teams have played in the CFP. Only four won it. Any extension – depending on the size of the field – could benefit the Group of Five conferences, which are guaranteed a New Year’s Six Bowl, but which are virtually excluded from examination by the CFP.
But every expansion means more Power Five participants and more money in the coffers. The Power Five currently generate around 85% of CFP revenues annually.
This would make it even easier for conferences like the SEC to have multiple teams on site. Note that the SEC has seen 3-4 teams in the top 10 of the final CFP rankings every year since 2017.
There are at least as many variations on the playoff expansion. Think of three types of ice cream. Choose one, two, or all three. Now decide whether you want streusel, gummy bears and / or chocolate syrup. You begin to figure out the scenarios the workgroup is working on.
In any expansion scenario, the working group must consider the following:
Specifies whether to embed bowl games in an extended playoff. A playoff of eight teams or almost certainly has to start on campus. Any expansion will likely affect the current key structure.
Events. It is ridiculous to consider that in the old BCS days the presidents once said, “No more soccer in the second semester”. We exceeded that limit with the CFP. Now presidents can ponder what Hancock warned to warn of “bracket creep” – the imposition of a bigger bracket on the football and academic calendar.
Play-in games. A simple six-team playoff means adding two teams to the four-team field and saying goodbye to the two best teams. That means two play-in games. Ah, but how are you supposed to populate it?
An insider helped make these choices for a six-team format:
- The top five teams as selected by the committee plus a guaranteed place in the group of five
- The six best teams selected by the committee
- Power five champions plus a team by and large
- Power Five Champions plus the top ranked Group of Five champion
- Top four, five or six ranked conference champions (additional large teams as required)
- Highest indefinite number of conference champions, limited by a minimum ranking (Top 10, 12?)
Hancock reiterated that there will be no change this season or the next. That said, the earliest extended playoff debut would be the 2023 season, which has three years left for the current $ 7.2 billion deal with ESPN for the current 12-year deal.
In that case, Houston NRG Stadium would host the inaugural CFP National Championship of the Expanded Bracket on January 8, 2024. This season’s semi-finals will take place at the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. This is what it looks like for a team of four brackets. It would require the addition of four more games in the quarterfinals to play an eight-team playoff.
As I wrote six years ago, there are no look-in clauses in the $ 7.2 billion 12-year contract. In other words, there is no way to reopen and rewrite the existing contract.
“We don’t know whether that is possible or not,” said Hancock, “whether it is possible, whether the parties can agree.”
There is a lot to consider, but one thing is clear: if a new deal made sense for both parties, they would of course amend the contract. Given the stakes, everything is negotiable. There could always be a reason to reopen the contract. Things could change tomorrow.
What remains to be seen is ESPN’s appetite to tear up the current contract and pay more in the current financial climate.
Wait … 16 teams? “Really?”
It is “not inconceivable” that the bracket can move from four to a maximum of 16 teams, according to a person who is close to the process. The template is there with the FCS playoffs, which includes 24 teams in a normal year.
The difference is that FCS teams play a regular season with 11 games. And these FCS athletes, for the most part, don’t have the pressures of an emerging NFL career. Talk about disabling issues. Because of this, adding 12 additional playoff games would need a health and welfare consideration.
Given the current schedule, this means two teams would play their 17th game in the national championship. In this scenario, the playoff games would have to start in early December and either replace the conference championship games or take place immediately afterwards.
Got the shells
Many think we have already reached critical mass with 42 bowls. They weren’t all played last season due to COVID-19. Each expansion hits the traditional bowl season and the ability to keep all 42 of those games in business.
“It’s a sliding scale,” said one person near the process. “The more [playoff] The access you grant affects the existing trays all the more.
“A lot of these things will work if you don’t worry about blowing up bowl season. If you do, it creates other necessities for you.”