Talks of conference realignment have dominated the summer of 2022. A year ago, however, that topic shared the headlines with early talks of College Football Playoff expansion.
The latest wave of conference realignment will likely spark a major change in the sport’s postseason structure. Many prominent figures, from head coaches to conference commissioners, even seem to think that CFP expansion is inevitable.
“Well, Playoff expansion is going to happen,” said WVU coach Neal Brown. “I don’t think I’m going to make any waves by saying that, it’s just how it’s going to happen and what it’s going to look like.”
The latest proposal came in June 2021, when the College Football Playoff Working Group proposed an expansion to 12 teams. No timetable was officially set for expansion, and the issue was largely placed on the backburner once Texas and Oklahoma defected from the Big 12 to the SEC.
Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12’s commissioner at the time, was one of the lead members of the CFP Working Group. Just six months after the proposal, Bowlsby said the possibility of expanding by 2024 was “in some jeopardy” as the CFP management committee failed to reach a consensus on the proposal.
“I plan on spending a lot of time with Bob, obviously,” Yormark said. “He was intimately involved in expansion conversations and modeling.”
As successful as the CFP has been, there have been some flaws that fuel expansion talks. For one, only 13 different programs have occupied the 32 total spots in the CFP since its inaugural run in 2014, with Alabama and Clemson making the CFP a combined 13 times. Domination by the SEC and Big Ten have also seemed to hamper the prospect of teams from other leagues — Pac-12 teams have made just two appearances in the CFP, while Cincinnati made the CFP as the first Group of Five team in 2021.
To increase the number of spots in the playoff, Brown said, is to allow more teams to compete for a national title.
“That’s what makes college basketball great, right? There’s a large number of teams at the start of that tournament that have that opportunity,” he said. “Now, is there a large number that can win it? No, but there’s a group that has an opportunity. For us, there’s not that same opportunity.”