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.