The number of spots reserved for conference champions when the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams next year remained open for discussion Wednesday as administrators who manage the postseason wrapped up meetings that mostly focused on potential television partners.
The CFP management committee, which is composed of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, gathered for a day-and-a-half at the Big Ten offices just outside of Chicago.
College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said potentially tweaking the format that will go into effect next season to adjust the number of conference champions in the field of 12 was not discussed. The current model calls for the six highest-rated conference champs and six at-large selections to make up the field.
With conference realignment putting the future of the Pac-12 in doubt, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and others have indicated the number of league champions in the playoff could be dropped to five, with seven at-large bids.
“Until we know for sure how many conferences we will have, we can’t say for sure how many conference champions will be in the playoff,” Hancock said.
Ten members of the Pac-12 will be joining new power conferences next year. Oregon State and Washington State are the remaining Pac-12 members and have indicated they would like to continue the conference, but how that plays out remains to be seen.
“Until the Pac-12 resolves itself, I don't want to deal with the hypothetical,” Swarbrick said.
Among the possibilities being considered by the Pacific Northwest rivals is trying to operate as a two-team conference for a year.
Oregon State President Jayathi Murthy said in an open letter to university supporters on Wednesday that the collapse of the Pac-12 could cause athletic revenue to decline as much as 44%.
Hancock said the CFP managers did authorize starting the search process for four more championship sites. The championship sites are in place through the title game following the 2025 season.
Hancock said five potential media partners gave presentations to the group, and he added that other networks are also interested and could not attend. He declined to identify the media companies, but FOX Sports President Mark Silverman attended part of the meeting Wednesday.
“They were more strategic presentations,” Swarbrick said. “There was no numbers. It was all about, here’s how we approach the CFP, here’s why we’d be a good partner.”
ESPN owns the rights to the playoff through the 2025 season. Playoff expansion to 12 games creates more inventory over the next two years.
Hancock has said ESPN as the current rights holder will get the first crack at the new inventory, but other networks are interested and could get involved.
Beyond 2025, there are no College Football Playoff contracts in place, and the bidding for the media rights will be wide open.
As for deciding whether to adjust the 6-6 model to 5-7, Swarbrick said it is not an urgent matter.
“I know it’s of public interest, but there’s nobody in the room saying, ‘Hey, we got to have this discussion right now,’” he said.
AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen in Rosemont, Illinois, contributed to this report.
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