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CFP: ‘way too soon’ to know if playoff expansion ‘is even a possibility’

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On the same day college football crowns its national champion, the stewards who control the current system of determining the champion have left no doubt about where they stand on expanding the field — for now.

Over the past month or so, there seemed to have been a growing sentiment to at least begin serious discussions on expanding the field of College Football Playoff participants from its current number of four to X number of schools.  Two powerful commissioners, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany and the Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby, went public with acknowledgments that expansion is something they would consider.

Monday afternoon, ahead of tonight’s championship game and after its annual meeting, Mark Keenum, chairman of the CFP Board of Managers, issued a statement in which he threw a 55-gallon drum of cold water on expanding the field, saying in part that “it’s way too soon – much too soon – to know if [expansion] is even a possibility.”

Below is Keenum’s statement, in its entirety:

We have concluded our annual meeting of the College Football Playoff Board of Managers. As we do every year, we meet alongside the commissioners, and Notre Dame’s Athletics Director, to review the ongoing operations of the Playoff, now entering its sixth year.

It is our unanimous agreement that the Playoff has been a tremendous success for students, fans, and universities. We are very proud of it. Fans love to watch it and we look forward to its continued success.

When it comes to the Playoff, as part of our normal review, we always look at everything and we will do so again.

Our job as university presidents is to listen to a variety of views, as we do every day back on campus, and every year when we consider how best to run the CFP. Academics, student-athlete well-being, existing contractual agreements and the overall good of the game are just a few of the issues we consider. At all times, we want our students who play sports to be successful in college and in life.

As far as expanding the number of teams in the Playoff, it’s way too soon – much too soon – to know if that is even a possibility. It’s fair to say the speculation about expansion has outdistanced the reality of what the commissioners and the presidents have discussed. If a decision were to be made down the road, the Presidents would be the ones to make it and we are not there.

At some point down the road, as part of our regular review of all matters pertaining to the Playoff, the management committee will meet, and it will consider all aspects of the Playoff, as it routinely does. When that discussion happens, I advise observers not to read too much into it. We have a twelve-year contract we are very happy with. It is always appropriate to ask the right questions and to examine every issue to be sure we have things right. We are very satisfied with the Playoff and look forward to its continued success.

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 current members of that board 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.

Florida State apologizes for MLK Day tweet

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As the old adage goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men’s Twitter accounts often go awry.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, Florida State’s official recruiting account on Twitter posted an inspirational quote from the slain Civil Rights leader. It would’ve been fine for all involved if the account would’ve stopped there; unfortunately for all involved, they didn’t stop there.

Instead, a photoshopped image of Dr. King wearing a football glove and apparently performing the Tomahawk Chop was included as part of the tweet.

Not surprisingly, the Twitter account caught significant heat and flack for the image on social media. Just as unsurprisingly, the tweet was deleted less than an hour after it was posted and an apology subsequently issued.

Rutgers hires Andy Buh to coordinate defense

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Rutgers has hired Andy Buh as its defensive coordinator, the program has announced.

“We are excited to add Andy to the Rutgers football family,” head coach Chris Ash said in a statement. “He is an outstanding linebackers coach and has extensive experience in the Big Ten. Andy and I share a defensive philosophy and he is very familiar with the scheme we run, which will benefit the continued development of our defense.”

Ash and Buh worked together previously at Wisconsin, where Ash was the defensive coordinator and Buh the linebackers coach. He spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Maryland and has previous coordinator experience at Stanford, Nevada and Cal.

Buh replaces Jay Niemann, who served as the Scarlet Knights’ defensive coordinator for the first three seasons of the Ash era. Rutgers was 69th in total and yards per play defense and 89th in scoring in 2018, surrendering 31.4 points per game. Buh’s Maryland defense placed 78th, allowing 28.7 points per outing.

Rutgers is 7-29 under Ash and 3-24 in Big Ten play.

North Texas inks home and homes with Baylor, Tulane

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North Texas celebrated MLK Day by announcing a slew of future football opponents.

The Mean Green announced Monday it will play home-and-homes with Baylor and Tulane in the 2028 and ’29 campaigns. North Texas will visit the Bears and Green Wave in 2028, then host both in 2029. UNT will visit Baylor on Sept. 2 and Tulane on Sept. 23 in 2028, while the Mean Green will host Baylor and Tulane in back-to-back weeks to open 2029, with the Bears coming on Sept. 1 and the Green Wave on Sept. 8.

A previously scheduled home game with Army was bumped from 2027 to 2028 in conjunction with Monday’s announcements. North Texas also announced a home game with Texas Southern for Sept. 24, 2022.

Baylor will be the fourth Power 5 program and the second Big 12 opponent to visit Apogee Stadium, which opened in 2011. Indiana visited in Apogee’s opening season, Cal will make a visit in 2022 and Texas Tech will come to Denton in 2027.

“I am thrilled to announce two quality home-and-home series have been added to our schedules,” Mean Green AD Wren Baker said in a statement. “Baylor joins Cal and Texas Tech as Power 5 conference teams coming to Denton over the next few years. Tulane is a quality American Athletic Conference team that will be a fun trip for our fans when we return to New Orleans. I appreciate (COO) Jared Mosley‘s diligent efforts to find compelling games for our fans.”

North Texas and Baylor have met 13 times previously. The Bears have won 12 of those meetings but North Texas took the most recent meeting in Denton, a 52-14 thumping in 2003. That remains UNT’s most recent win over a Big 12 opponent.

The Mean Green and Green Wave have played just once previously, a 21-14 Tulane victory in New Orleans in 2013.

Baylor has a previously scheduled trip to Oregon slated for 2028, a return trip for the Ducks’ flight to Waco in 2027. Tulane also has a home-and-home with Iowa State in 2028-29, with the home dates flipped from the UNT series.

Boise State to replace iconic blue turf (with more, newer blue turf)

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Boise State became a household name through playing on its trendsetting blue turf (and winning a lot), such that the school now owns a trademark for any non-green collegiate field.

The current blue playing surface is set to go away this spring, only to be replaced by a newer, bigger, bluer (probably) version.

“It’s needed,” Boise State AD Curt Apsey told the Idaho Statesman. “We’re not just doing it to do it. It’s near the end of the usual lifespan.”

The current playing surface was installed ahead of the 2010 season; FieldTurf surfaces usually have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.

“The field is shredding,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin told the paper last summer. “It’s just old. It needs to be replaced. It’s just time.”

Boise State has played on a blue surface since 1986, when then-AD Gene Blaymaier put in blue AstroTurf at a cost of $750,000. The school did not even join FBS until a decade later.

The new surface will extend beyond the playing field to cover the area that previously held the Broncos’ track. It is expected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million, but the school is approved to spend $600,000 as of now.