/CFPs Hancock doesnt see field expanding

CFPs Hancock doesnt see field expanding


SAN JOSE, Calif. — College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said he doesn’t expect the four-team playoff to change its format before the current 12-year contract expires, but university presidents and conference commissioners will at least discuss the idea at a joint meeting at their hotel on Monday morning before the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson.

“I don’t see it,” Hancock said of playoff expansion in the near future. “The four-team format is extremely popular.”

Hancock was quickly surrounded by a handful of reporters on Saturday morning at media day where he was peppered with questions about the status of the playoff, which is concluding its fifth season. Alabama and Clemson will face each other in a playoff game for the fourth straight season.

While some coaches and athletic directors have been outspoken in their belief that the playoff needs to expand, the people with the power to actually change it — the 10 FBS conference commissioners, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and the 11 university presidents and trustees who comprise the CFP’s board of managers — haven’t talked about it in the same room.

Until now.

On Monday morning, the 10 FBS commissioners and Swarbrick will meet for about an hour, and then they will be joined by the university presidents. Hancock said they “will think about whether to think about a format change, they’ll ponder whether to ponder.”

When asked what concerns he is hearing from the commissioners, Hancock said he doesn’t hear concerns, “but what I do hear people say is, as a good business practice, we should evaluate ourselves and see if we can make a great thing even greater.”

Hancock said that the buzz about playoff expansion doesn’t compare to the complaints he heard about the BCS.

“People didn’t like the BCS,” he said. “People really like the College Football Playoff. It’s way different.”

A more comprehensive review of the playoff could come this spring, at the CFP’s annual meetings in Dallas.

“I would probably tell you honestly I’m not sure what the right number is,” said Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod. “I need to have a lot more discussions to get to a different number. If I said six or eight, what are the parameters? Is there a guarantee that one of our teams is in? Or does that just give it a better shot? It’s hard to even answer the question without a lot more extended conversation and analyzing all of the data points we have.”

Which is why there are unlikely to be any concrete decisions made on Monday morning during what should be a roughly two-hour meeting. Hancock said he doesn’t expect any major changes to the selection committee’s protocol, either, which is used to determine the top four teams. While all 13 committee members are expected to attend Monday night’s game, they won’t review the season until later.

For the second straight season, undefeated UCF was left out of the committee’s final top four, leaving many to believe that a team from the Group of 5 doesn’t stand a chance in the current system.

“Play a good schedule, win your games, and you’ll be in the discussion,” Hancock said. “Look at Houston, two, three years ago. They had it all tee’d up and stumbled … but they found the formula. Look at what Boise State did back in the day. There’s a way.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he still isn’t quite sure how the committee determines the top four teams.

“I don’t honestly know all the things the Selection Committee does to make the decision,” he said. “I just assumed that they — from several different resources, look at the total body of work that a particular team does relative to strength of schedule and those types of things.

“But we’re not on a level playing field now, all right. I mean, if you play a championship game — I mean, we played a top-4 team in the championship game, so we actually played an eight-team playoff this year for our team. Some teams didn’t have to do that.”

Ranked No. 1 and undefeated entering the SEC championship game against Georgia, there had been a reasonable chance that Alabama would have made the playoff regardless of the result against the Bulldogs.

Saban said he’s talked “to no avail” about how all Power 5 schools should only play Power 5 opponents, but that “nobody is supportive of what I believe.”

“Then I think you would be able to evaluate who has the best teams a little bit better because we all wouldn’t have three or four games a year that were sort of not significant in terms of how you would evaluate,” he said. “It’s hard to qualify is this league better than that league, how many good teams do they have in that league. Those things are difficult. But if we all played each other more, I think it would help that.”

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