ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips: Now Is Not The Time To Expand The College Football Playoff

The Atlantic Coast Conference believes “now is not the right time to expand the College Football Playoff,” commissioner Jim Phillips said Friday. Any decision to expand or change the format of the CFP prior to the end of its current contract must be unanimous, so Phillips’ comments appear to squash any hope of an expanded field before the 2026 college football season.

“The aspect of increased access to the CFP can and absolutely should be addressed as we move forward together as leaders of college athletics, but not before making sure our house is in order,” Phillips said.

Phillips said repeatedly over the course of Friday’s half-hour call with reporters that he believes he and his peers should primarily be focused on NCAA reform, federal name, image and likeness reform help and the fallout of the Supreme Court’s ruling against the NCAA. He said that the CFP working group that was tasked to examine expansion was formed in January 2019, when college athletics was in a different, more stable place.

ACC coaches “are unanimous” in their belief that now isn’t the right time to expand the four-team Playoff, Phillips said, adding that he’d spoken to Clemson players who played 15-game seasons with CFP title game appearances and their feedback was simple: We don’t want to play more games.

The SEC and Big 12 commissioners were among those voicing public frustration on Monday, after the latest set of expansion meetings ended with no resolution. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that, in the past, even commissioners who disagreed on other issues could come together to do what’s best for college football.

Phillips was asked twice on Friday if he minded, essentially, being viewed as the bad guy, the one others will point to as the reason the Playoff isn’t expanding before 2026.

“In that room, there hasn’t been agreement on a bunch of things,” Phillips said. “It’s fine. Relative to how it’s portrayed, I know that’s not necessarily the case. It’s not just the ACC. There are issues that everyone has."

Phillips said he’s continued to work collaboratively with other conferences but that the ACC’s position hasn’t changed since mid-fall. The ACC no longer supports an eight-team Playoff model because it realized there was not enough traction among other leagues to get it off the ground. Most everyone else understands that the likely outcome is a 12-team Playoff. But conferences are also haggling over what that looks like; the Big Ten, for example, wants automatic qualification for Power 5 champions. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are pushing for the Rose Bowl to receive special treatment and keep its premier time slot on New Year’s Day while also potentially being incorporated to other rounds of playoff games. Incorporating an expanded playoff system into the bowl system will remain challenging. Revenue distribution has become an issue among the commissioners as well.

To break existing contracts with ESPN and various bowls to begin a 12-team field as soon as the 2024 regular season, decisions need to be unanimous. The 10 FBS commissioners, who make up the CFP management committee along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, could not reach unanimity this past weekend. (Said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Monday: “Didn’t even get close.”) The CFP board of managers, the 11 university presidents who oversee them, told the commissioners to continue to meet and work through issues. The board wants commissioners to report back again in a couple of months.

“The board wants us to keep continuing to work,” Phillips said. “We're not opposed to expansion at some point. Right now, we don't feel like that's the right thing to do in college football."

Phillips said he expects that there will be a new CFP model post-2026, and he believes that’s where the focus should be, not on rushing a process to get two extra years of an expanded field (in 2024 and 2025). He would like the sport to first do a 365-day review, looking at recruiting, preseason conditioning, the length of the season, health and safety and other issues in college football, with feedback from coaches and players themselves. He’d also like to see college sports prioritize figuring out its future, both in terms of governance reform that is underway and also if/when there is federal legislation in the NIL space.

All that to say, this needs to be a unanimous decision for the Playoff to expand soon, and the ACC appears dead set against it.

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox /Getty Images)

Source : https://theathletic.com/news/acc-commissioner-jim-phillips-now-is-not-the-right-time-to-expand-the-college-football-playoff/Hj5tK2guUe0z/

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