Arguably the most powerful individual in college sports has thrown his two copper Lincolns into the playoff expansion discussion — and it comes with a slightly different tone than earlier this month.
Even after he watched as his conference’s champion was shut out of the College Football Playoff for the third straight season, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany didn’t seem too concerned with the current size of the postseason field. He did, though, seemingly leave the door slightly ajar for expansion…
… and, a couple of weeks later, made even stronger comments to The Athletic‘s Nicole Auerbach that his conference is open to talks with his colleagues on expanding the current four-team field.
“The Big Ten would be happy to discuss structure issues with colleagues,” Delany told Auerbach. “It’s probably a good idea, given all of the conversations and noise around the issue, to have discussions with our colleagues.
“The Big Ten would definitely have conversations.”
Back-to-back Big Ten champion Ohio State has been shut out of the playoffs each of the past two seasons. While OSU made the playoffs in 2016, it came at the expense of conference champion Penn State. The Big Ten is one of the three Power Five conferences, the Big 12 and Pac-12 being the others, which have missed out on the playoffs on more than one occasion in the five years of its existance. Those three leagues all play nine conference games; the ACC and SEC, which have either qualified in each of the five years of the playoff as is the case of the latter or in four of five for the former, play just eight.
Delany is the second Power Five commissioner to become a part of the chorus calling for an expanded playoff system, joining the Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby. “It’s an appropriate thing to begin thinking about,” Bowlsby told Auerbach earlier this month.
Conversely, the SEC’s Greg Sankey stated late last month that expansion hasn’t even been discussed. And then there’s the ACC’s John Swofford.
“I don’t think there’s a great shift in momentum to expand the playoffs,” the commissioner told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in late November. “I’m not suggesting that it will never happen. You never say never.
“I don’t think that’s something that’s imminent right now.”
The 11-member CFP management committee, consisting of all 10 FBS conference commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, reports to the CFP board of managers, which is made up of 11 individuals who are presidents/chancellors at FBS institutions. It’s those presidents/chancellors, with input from the commissioners, that will ultimately decide when or even if the playoffs will expand.
For those interested, those 11 board of managers are:
- Eric Barron – President, Penn State University (Big Ten)
- Rodney Bennett – President, University of Southern Mississippi (C-USA)
- Greg Fenves – President, University of Texas-Austin (Big 12)
- Anthony Frank – President, Colorado State University (Mountain West)
- Jack Hawkins – Chancellor, Troy University (Sun Belt)
- Rev. John Jenkins – President, University of Notre Dame (Independent)
- Mark Keenum (chair) – President, Mississippi State University (SEC)
- Kirk Schulz – President, Washington State University (Pac-12)
- John Thrasher – President, Florida State University (ACC)
- Satish Tripathi – President, University at Buffalo (MAC)
- R. Gerald Turner – President, Southern Methodist University (American Athletic)
The CFP’s current 12-year contract with broadcast partner ESPN runs through the 2026 season.