On Monday, Pete Thamel perfectly described the recent failed effort to expand the College Football Playoff format. Writing about the absence of consensus in expansion discussions, Thamel characterized the effort as “talking” without “saying anything.”
The sad commentary could not be more fitting. Looking beyond some of the words, the expansion process has become tainted by evasiveness and disingenuous debate. The worst contributors are the commissioners of the Pac 12 and the ACC.
On Monday Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff took the dissembling to a new level. According to Kliavkoff, the Pac 12 supports each of six different expansion formats. The Pac 12 has staunchly contended Power Five conference champions must receive automatic bids. Now Kliavkoff has put in writing that his conference supports both having and not having that requirement. It appears Kliavkoff is now content to let the Big Ten’s commissioner, Kevin Warren carry the water on Power Five champions’ auto-qualifying.
The explanation for the Pac 12 position, offered by Kliavkoff’s statement was,
"It is clear none of the six most-discussed expansion models has unanimous consent, with most having considerable opposition, and every conference other than the Pac-12 has indicated that they would be against at least one of the proposed models"
The Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby and the SEC’s Greg Sankey were not impressed with the Pac 12 statement. Sankey was clear the SEC has already made a significant concession to move from the four-team format to an expanded field. In a warning that could have only been aimed at the Pac 12, the Big Ten and the ACC, Sankey said,
"Don’t assume if we’re at a tipping point, that we’ll re-engage"
Months ago, Sankey stated the SEC was content with the four-team format but was willing to embrace Playoff expansion as the best direction for college football. Other commissioners, like Bowlsby, Craig Thompson of the Mountain West and Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick appear to also be willing to do what is best for college football.
The ACC’s resistance appears to be less self-serving than the arguments from the Pac 12 and The Big Ten. However, Pete Thamel commented,
"There’s mystery to what ACC commissioner Jim Phillips is angling for."
There is little mystery as to what the Pac 12 is angling for. They want a ‘most favored nation’ status for the Rose Bowl. Coupled with that is an apparent distrust of how future Playoff revenues will be distributed.
What is going to happen to the College Football Playoff?
Despite how far apart the parties are, the lure of expanded Playoff revenues virtually guarantees the format will be expanded. How and when is unknown. What is becoming more clear is a final deal will have to be accomplished by the committee of university presidents (Board of Managers) rather than the conference commissioners.
According to Pete Thamel, Big 12 Commissioner, Bob Bowlsby was so disgusted by the recent College Football Playoff expansion meeting, he left before it was over.