Bill Hancock didn’t even wait for the question to be asked.
When addressing reporters at SEC Media Days in Atlanta Wednesday morning, Hancock, the executive director of the College Football Playoff, made it clear that the Playoff would not be expanding.
The four-team field has worked out just fine so far.
“I will go ahead and answer the question that I know is on some of your minds: There is no talk about expansion among the university presidents and the conference commissioners who sit on our boards,” Hancock said.
Why is the College Football Playoff sticking with four teams?
Hancock’s statement should not be a surprise — mostly because he has said the folks who operate the CFP have no plans to expand on several occasions before. Beyond that, the CFP — the four-team CFP — has been an unquestioned success.
“The CFP works. It works well. Four teams keeps the focus on this wonderful regular season, the most meaningful and compelling in all of sports,” Hancock said. “Four lets us keep the bowl experience for thousands of student-athletes. Four keeps college football within the framework of higher education.”
The 2018 season will mark the fifth year of the CFP era. The process of choosing the best four teams by way of a 13-member selection committee will remain the same.
“People love their college football, they love their playoff, and they respect their committee’s decisions,” Hancock said. “Perhaps the strongest barometer of the CFP’s respect is that those 13 committee members, all of them accomplished people of high integrity who love the game, are deeply honored to volunteer their time to be a part of the CFP.”
Why do some want to see the CFP expand?
The CFP was brought in to replace the controversy-filled BCS era. Has there been controversy in the CFP’s initial years? Sure. But it hasn’t been like the outrage generated from the computer-based BCS model.
Still, some want more. They want more teams — especially those outside the Power Five conferences — to get a crack at ultimately winning the national championship. Last year’s undefeated run by Central Florida is a perfect example for those who would like to see the Playoff expand to eight teams.
UCF stormed through its AAC schedule and eventually knocked off SEC runner-up, Auburn, in the Peach Bowl. But that Peach Bowl triumph came after the final CFP rankings where UCF was placed at No. 12.
Many feel UCF, as the best team from the Group of Five conferences, should have gotten a crack to compete against the likes of Alabama and Ohio State.
Hancock said it all comes back to strength of schedule.
“For the College Football Playoff, things are simple: Play a good schedule, win your games, and you’re going to be in the hunt,” Hancock said. “That holds true for UCF and Houston and Northern Illinois, as well as Alabama and Ohio State and Texas and Washington.”
What could an expanded CFP look like?
There have been a number of iterations for an expanded Playoff (usually eight teams) floated out there in recent years. One brought up by Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy on Tuesday is especially popular.
As relayed to Brett McMurphy, Gundy said he would like to see the CFP made up of the Power Five champions — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 — plus two wild cards (non-conference champions) and one school from the non-power conferences.
With that arrangement, last year’s CFP would have looked like this:
4. Ohio State
If that ever comes to fruition, the current CFP contract for four teams would need to be broken off. The initial CFP deal with its television and bowl partners spans 12 seasons — from 2014 through 2025.
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