By choosing to stay on four bands for another four years, the 10 FBS Conferences and Notre Dame lost nearly $450 million in potential revenue.
“I’ve always said that money was an afterthought, and that proves it,” said AACP commissioner Mike Aresco. “Obviously we give up on that. We all know that. It’s something you’ve been wanting to have because you can use a lot of that for the health and well-being of the student-athlete and other things, but the feeling was that the most important thing was to have a format they could agree on. everyone “.
On Wednesday afternoon, the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame sporting director Jacques Swarbrick held a crucial video conference in which they decided they could not reach a unanimous agreement on the proposed 12-team format announced on June 10. The CFP Board of Directors, consisting of 11 chairs and advisors with ultimate authority over the playoff, is to remain in the four-team field for the duration of the current contract.
The CFP Board of Directors held a video conference Thursday and approved the recommendation.
“I understand this is complicated, and I understand conference situations,” Hancock told ESPN in a brief phone interview from China, where he works as a volunteer at the Olympics. “I’ve had it long enough to know that sometimes relapses are temporary.”
Hancock said he still believes an expanded field is possible in the next decade.
“I know because I heard the management committee and the board talking about that they all would like to see the CFP expand, but in years 11 and 12, there were many things that got in the way,” he said. “Not just one thing, but several.”
In order to expand the playoff round before the current contract expired, FBS’s 10 commissioners and Swarbrick had to unanimously approve the expansion. ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips stated publicly in mid-January that his conference was united in its position that “this is not the time for expansion.” He said the sport first needs to consider the effects of the name, image and likeness rules, the transfer portal and the NCAA’s governance structure undergoing an overhaul.
“We have significant concerns about the proposed expansion model, although we would be supportive of future expansion once and if those concerns are addressed,” Phillips said at the time. “Members believe we have a responsibility to look at CFP and college football from an overall perspective and not just whether we’re going to add more teams to the playoff. Collectively, we have much bigger problems facing us from expanding the CFP two years early.”
Multiple sources involved in the meeting told ESPN that the vote was 8-3, with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC voting against expanding the playoffs at this time. While the three commissioners involved have recently joined forces in the name of the “coalition,” they were not at all in agreement on the reasons for not voting in favor of the proposed motion.
Other major obstacles to expansion included: the inability to accommodate the Pac-12’s relationship with the Rose Bowl, which wants to stick to its traditional day and time along with its media rights; Disputes over revenue distribution. And whether the Power 5 conference champions should receive automatic bids for an extended playoff — a component strongly backed by the Big Ten, but not a majority in the room.
Aresco issued a rebuttal of the ACC and the Big Ten earlier this week in an “open letter to college football.”
In response to the ACC’s concerns about the state of college athletics, Aresco wrote, “The extended playoff is all about enhancing opportunities no matter what the future college athletic landscape will look like.” He also noted that “these cross-cutting issues will likely be discussed long into the future” and “are unlikely to be settled in any meaningful way in the next fifteen months or so when the decision-makers of the Forest Competition Commission will have to meet again either To develop a new playoff plan for 2026 and beyond, continue with the four-team model or abandon the playoff altogether if an acceptable model is not agreed upon.”
Aresco has also responded to Big Ten’s pressure for automatic playoffs, saying it favors “franchise for franchise’s sake”. The original 12-team proposal, which was created by Swarbrick, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey included the six highest-ranked conference champions, as well as the next six highest-ranked teams.
“There are about 1,000 footballers from eight teams that could have been part of a national championship, and I think they’re all going to crave that opportunity, but they won’t,” Sankey told ESPN. “We were willing to adapt to modern expectations to create opportunities. Others weren’t willing to adapt to create those opportunities. So we will have to rethink our views as this process is reactivated at some point.”
When asked about the biggest obstacle to expansion, Sankei said, “Someone else has to get their say. It certainly wasn’t the Southeast Congress.
“We were ready to participate in a meaningful expansion. I think others will have to give their reasons.”
Swarbrick said he remains convinced that the playoffs will eventually expand.
He said, “Sure.” “You will. In our discussions, everyone in the room reiterated their interest in expanding. No one ever said ‘don’t expand.’ It will expand. I think we’ve probably gone 30 days, 45 days past the real deadline. If you’re going early, there are things you have to do.” We couldn’t get there in time.”
“I think in the long run people acted against their own broader self-interest,” he said. “It’s always a strange circumstance and it’s frustrating. The things that got in the way were things that mattered to people. Sometimes it’s hard to know the balance between these issues and the bigger benefits. Everyone has their own point of view.”
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren released a statement to ESPN that also supports the future expansion of the current system.
“Big Ten supports the expansion of the college football system – for student-athletes, member institutions, and fans,” he said. “Expansion provides greater opportunity, exposure, and value to member organizations, student athletes, coaches, football teams, and sports programs. I am confident that we will collectively continue to address unresolved issues and move forward with expansion for the greater good of college football.”
The decision to remain on four teams ends public speculation about the future of the post-season sports for the time being, but the Commissioners and Swarbrick still need to work out what it will look like beginning in the 2026-27 season. An in-person meeting to discuss the expansion that was scheduled for March 2 in Dallas, with both commissioners and presidents, has been cancelled.
“Our negotiation window with ESPN begins in October 2024, so obviously we’ll come back from that because we know it’s going to take some time to create a format that we want to show on TV,” Hancock said. “We don’t know how long. We don’t have an exact date. There is more than enough time to get this right for the 26-27 season.”
The CFP has yet to officially announce the host cities for the final two seasons of this decade, although ESPN has previously reported that the playoff is considering Las Vegas and Miami.
“We’ll get to that as quickly as we can,” Hancock said.
The 2023 national title match will be held on January 9 in Los Angeles, followed by Houston on January 8, 2024.