ROSEMONT, Ill. — Following a second College Football Playoff meeting in as many weeks, executive director Bill Hancock told reporters on Tuesday the decision-makers tasked with determining the future format of the sport’s postseason “have the luxury of time” to figure it out.
The playoff is in the midst of its eighth season of a 12-year contract in which ESPN is the exclusive rights holder through the 2025 season.
“We have time, because if the event is going to change before the end of the term, the end of the 12 years, we have three or four months,” Hancock said. “If it’s going to change in Year 13, then we have a couple of years.”
The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick met for about two hours in a hotel conference room near the Big Ten headquarters, and the CFP’s board of managers, which is comprised of the 11 presidents and chancellors who have the power to change the playoff, joined them via video conference for the second half of the meeting.
The presidents were originally scheduled to meet with commissioners and Swarbrick in-person. But after some of the commissioners raised numerous issues on a call earlier this month and again at a meeting in Dallas last Wednesday, they weren’t ready to make a recommendation to the presidents for their approval. That’s why there wasn’t any vote.
All of the commissioners and Swarbrick deferred comment to Hancock.
“I can’t stress enough, it’s exactly how the process should work,” Hancock said. “I never expected a rubber stamp on this. It’s too complex.”
The complexities they discussed start with the number of games, and there is still consideration in the room for four-, eight- and 12-team formats, though the 12-team proposal is the only option that the commissioners spent the summer soliciting feedback on from their respective leagues.
Other topics included the calendar, and how a wider field would impact the bowl games — including the Rose Bowl, which is clinging to its media rights and traditional Jan. 1 time slot. They also discussed media rights, but Hancock said ESPN television executives were not a part of Tuesday’s discussions.
“The format will be done before television,” Hancock said.
If the playoff format were to change before then, ESPN would have first rights to any new games. If college football’s power brokers are determined to take the playoff to multiple media entities as a way of maximizing revenue, it would need to wait until after 2025 or work out an arrangement with ESPN.
“In last week’s meeting, it became clear for the first time that all 11 members of the management committee now believe we have to have multiple distributors of our postseason content,” one source with knowledge of the discussions said.
While there has been some concern over the postseason games occurring during exam weeks for some schools, Hancock said the CFP postseason can only be determined after the NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee announces when the season will begin. The FOC is in charge of setting dates for spring practices, summer camps and the actual start of the season.
“The CFP reacts to that,” Hancock said. “The calendar is more about when the games are played, and that includes where they’re playing.”
The commissioners and Swarbrick will meet again when their schedules permit, but nothing official had been scheduled.
“Eventually I won’t be able to say we have a lot of time,” Hancock said. “But I think the next meeting will happen … as soon as we can get everybody together. They understand how important this is. It’s important for all of them. It’s important for the people on their campuses.”