For the first time since the Pac-12 was gutted by realignment, the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick met Wednesday to discuss the future of the College Football Playoff in a meeting that was described as “cordial,” but with a backdrop of uncertainty still looming over the league leaders.
If the Pac-12 dissolves in 2024, as many expect it to, the CFP could change how it chooses the teams in the expanded 12-team format, which also begins in 2024. The current model includes the six highest-ranked conference champions plus the next six highest-ranked teams, which allows for five Power 5 conference champions, plus one Group of 5 champ. If the Pac-12 doesn’t exist, though, the CFP is considering changing the criteria to the five highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams. The group also discussed the option of 12 at-large teams.
No major decisions were made Wednesday, though, because the group is still waiting to see what happens to the four remaining Pac-12 teams — Cal, Stanford, Washington State and Oregon State. The ACC is expected to decide soon on potentially adding Cal, Stanford and SMU.
ACC commissioner Jim Phillips was expected to join them in person but told ESPN he didn’t because of travel issues in Charlotte, North Carolina, caused by Hurricane Idalia. He participated in the five-hour meeting by videoconference and didn’t provide the room any update on possible conference expansion, according to CFP executive director Bill Hancock.
“To the matter of conference realignment, we’re going to have to wait and see,” Hancock said. “We’re going to have to wait until the dust settles before making any decisions about how that might affect CFP. The fact is, we just don’t know yet. No one knows how conference realignment is going to wind up, and it would just be premature to make any decisions about it.”
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said his conference should know “fairly soon” if SMU is going to join the ACC, and that his league has “contingency plans.”
“We’re weighing how we’re going to deal with that,” he said. “We had a major meeting today with our ADs and presidents this morning. … It’ll get resolved pretty quickly. I don’t think it can go on too much longer. None of this is really healthy when it drags on, but we have a great relationship with SMU.”
Aresco said the Power 5 label is “all about branding