Mundell: CFP expansion arrives just in time for everyone but the SEC’s Big Ten

It’s been a summer of doom and gloom for college football fans. First, the transfer portal was trying to kill the sport. And most certainly a superconference. Virginia Tech fans, rip off his ticket for the season. Skip Homecoming, Iowa fans. Because if your team doesn’t make it into the Big Ten or SEC by 2024, he could be out of business.

But lo and behold, on the Friday before the unofficial last weekend of summer, the presidents of the 11 colleges who oversee the college football playoffs did not go and bring 99 FBS programs to those two conferences, I went to those two meetings.

It’s been a long, winding, and frankly bizarre process to get there, but the 12-team college football playoffs are officially underway. Perhaps as early as 2024, but no later than 2026. Conferences such as the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC — the latter two being run by commissioners who inexplicably voted against it last winter. increase.

After the commissioners failed to reach an agreement after eight months of meetings, the outraged president effectively said, “Thank you, we’ll take care of it from here.”multiple sources told athletic A handful of presidents, led by Mark Keenum of Mississippi and Gordon Gee of West Virginia, said they had been holding informal discussions for months.

The model they approved on Friday is virtually unchanged from the working group’s first proposal in June 2021. His six highest-ranked conference champions and his six highest-ranked large teams continue to be invited.

you read that right. Access to the Big Dance is guaranteed for 6 meetings. Not two.

All of the current Power 5 leagues and at least one G5 conference will remain relevant nationally into the final week of the regular season, even though they are billions less than the Big Ten and SEC.

“There’s obviously ‘P2’ and I’ve used the term before and the media are starting to use it,” AAC Commissioner Mike Alesko said Friday. “With that kind of integration, I think everyone realizes that having (CFP) access is important.”

For that, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kurifkov should send Keenum, chairman of the CFP Board, a bottle of the finest champagne. Keenum’s conference may have continued to thrive all the way to the end in a four-team playoff, while Kliavkoff’s has never seen one of him on that team qualify in his six years. Kliavkoff voted against the initial expansion for the first time because he wanted more clarity on how revenue was distributed.

It’s funny how those concerns were allayed once USC and UCLA left for the Big Ten and they received 40% of the Pac-12’s projected earnings.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips was adamant last time against an early expansion and thought his counterparts should focus more on sorting out NIL and other issues. Interestingly, all of these concerns were magically allayed as soon as Big Ten signed his $8 billion TV deal, which pays members two to three times as much as he would in the ACC’s will. .

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren also voted against last winter, bewilderingly advocating allowing preemptive automatic docking at the Power 5 conference. Curiously, his stance “softened” shortly after his Power 5 league nearly wiped out another Power 5 league.

about that.

Friday’s news could not have come at a better time for the depleted Pac-12, which is currently negotiating its next TV deal with ESPN and others. Whatever the offer was, just knowing that the Pac-12 championship game would be an annual play-in game for CFP could have added value. is about to skyrocket in its TV deal. ESPN’s current contracts, which began in 2014, pay an average of $470 million annually. The 12-team event could fetch $2 billion annually, especially if it hits the open market after 2026.

If the Big Ten invite is hanging, is it enough to deter Oregon from turning it down? maybe not. The school will consider whether it does better with 1 or 2 other CFP candidates in the 12-team league compared to 6-8 other CFP candidates in the 18-team league may be necessary.

The same is true for the Big 12, which announced this week that it will be in talks with ESPN and Fox about possible early negotiations for a new deal. Oklahoma State is so far the only Big 12 program he will qualify for the CFP, finishing by 2025 at the latest. In this new world, anyone from Oklahoma, Baylor to Cincinnati, UCF can be his annual CFP contender. Its regular season is also more valuable.

Cincinnati is promoted from the AAC, but last season’s playoffs went from being a rarity for Group 5 teams to an annual event. Imagine being an East Carolina fan or a Wyoming fan…even a Central Michigan fan, this is the first season this thing is going into effect.The playoffs are no longer a pipe dream for your school.

Note: This does not mean that states other than Alabama, Georgia and Ohio in the world will win national championships more often. It may be quite the opposite. Now, in a year when these programs are 10-2 (and maybe 9-3), they’ll still try that.

But unlike when the BCS went from 2 to 4, the playoff expansion push wasn’t about deciding the champion. The 4-team model does it perfectly well. It was that the title game of the conference would be rendered meaningless if any participant ranked no higher than him in the country. Fans were frustrated that they had to wait four weeks each December to see Alabama and Clemson blast their semifinal opponents that year. It was about the bowl being relegated to glorious exhibitions where the team’s NFL-bound stars wouldn’t bother to play.

Last year, Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker opted out of the Peach Bowl, capping off both teams’ best seasons in years. ‘s Peach Bowl could at least be a CFP quarterfinal.

The process that led to Friday’s epic news dump began in January 2019, the morning of the third annual Alabama vs. Clemson National Championship game in Santa Clara, when Keenum and the board asked the commissioner to investigate a potential expansion model. It started when I allowed the . But going from 4 to 8, let alone 12 still seemed very unlikely before 2026. There were too many problems, too many resistances, too many complexities to blow up the interconnected web of television and bowl contracts that make up the CFP.

Today, more than three years later, it is essential to the health of college football.

The sport has proven to be very resilient over the last century, so two LA schools with road games in New Jersey probably wouldn’t kill that thing. But there is something I have to say to create interest for the fans.

On Friday, 11 university presidents invited nearly 100 fan bases.

— Nicole Auerbach contributed to the report.

(Photo: Jerome Milon / USA Today)


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