Pac-12 conference’s push for expanded College Football Playoff denied
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Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott asked the College Football Playoff management committee on Wednesday to consider expanding this year’s playoff to eight teams but the proposal was declined, playoff executive director Bill Hancock told USA TODAY Sports.
“After thorough, respectful and civil discussion, they decided that the best outcome would be to make no changes in the format, because it would have been such a significant change and would come with so many challenges, especially given that the season is already underway,” Hancock said.
Scott asked the committee to consider expansion because of the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 season, notably in how restrictions and varied start dates have many conferences playing different numbers of games.
ACC teams are playing an 11-game schedule with one non-conference game. The Big 12 and SEC are playing 10-game schedules, with the Big 12 adding one intersectional matchup and the SEC playing only conference opponents. The Big Ten will play nine games beginning on Oct. 24, while the Pac-12 will play seven starting on Nov. 6.
Due to the league’s limited number of games compared to its Power Five peers, the Pac-12 would have stood to benefit most from increasing the number of teams in this year’s playoff.
The lack of scheduling uniformity across the Power Five — leagues are scheduled to play the same number of games overall or the same number of league games, but no two conferences play the same number of total games and conference games — will make it more difficult for the playoff selection committee to choose the top four teams.
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“The committee’s job is to select the best four teams based on the schedules as established by each conference. This is why we have this committee of 13 experts,” Hancock said.
“Clearly there will be challenges this year. We will see what those challenges are and work through them. But the committee’s fundamental mission has not changed. Whatever the season looks like, the committee will select the best four teams based on the protocol.”
Always a topic of conversation, the fractured regular season and odds of added controversy during this year’s playoff race will undoubtedly fuel calls to expand the postseason format beyond the current four-team bracket. The playoff is in the midst of a 12-year contract that lasts through the 2025-26 postseason.
“Whether it’s six or eight, at some point in time it’s going to happen. We all know it. We all believe it. We’re just going to do it very slowly and very methodically,” said Stanford coach David Shaw.
“That’s the only thing that makes sense now because you’ll have some teams who have a 12-game schedule, that they may play 10. Some that have an eight-game schedule, they may play six. We may have some in our conference that have a six-game schedule or a seven-game schedule, technically, and they may play five or four.”
The playoff management committee is composed of the 10 Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.