College Football Playoff expansion could be delayed until after 2026

·2 min read

College Football Playoff expansion is not moving swiftly.

There’s still no timetable for an expanded playoff and it’s unclear just how many teams would be involved in a bigger playoff at this point anyway. A 12-team playoff seemed to be the obvious choice a few months ago, but the SEC’s move to add Texas and Oklahoma to the conference angered other conferences enough to scuttle the idea and go back to the drawing board.

CFP director Bill Hancock told the Associated Press that it was “too complex” to have an expanded format finalized this week. From the AP:

There was some hope that the management committee would be ready to recommend a new format to the board this week and put it up for a vote. But the commissioners were unable to come to a consensus last week.

“I never expected a rubber stamp on this,” Hancock said. “It’s too complex.”

Hancock said when and where to play extra playoff games was discussed, along with media rights.

It’s frustrating and unsurprising that a college football system that’s long been resistant to change is dragging its feet when it comes to playoff expansion. We shouldn’t have gotten our hopes up over the summer when a 12-team playoff seemed inevitable — and potentially as soon as 2023. In fact, the AP reports that if a format isn’t finalized in four months, the playoff won’t be expanded until at least 2026.

The biggest hangup at the moment appears to be whether the playoff should be eight or 12 teams if it expands. A 12-team playoff would mean that all five Power Five conference champions would get in along with a Group of Five team and six wild cards. An eight-team playoff would be a little trickier. How many wild card spots would be available? Would conference champions automatically get a playoff bid?

Hancock also notes that the playoff could stay at four. That would be the most frustrating thing about this expansion exercise. Imagine if college football leaders spent all this time meeting about changes to the status quo and decided that the status quo was perfectly fine? Given the history of college sports, we sadly can't rule that out.