College Football Playoff Chairman Mark Keenum: ‘It’s Way Too Soon’ to Expand Playoff

    Hours before the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, Chairman of the College Football Playoff

    January 7, 2019

    Hours before the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson, Chairman of the College Football Playoff Board of Managers Mark Keenum released a statement announcing that “it’s way too soon” to expand the College Football Playoff.

    The College Football Playoff Board of Managers concluded its annual meeting with the commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick to review the operations of the playoff as it prepares to enter its sixth season.

    But despite increased discussion and speculation of the College Football Playoff expanding its number of teams – likely to eight teams, twice the size of the current field – the playoff’s chairman said the talk of expansion by those outside the Board of Managers has surpassed that by those on the board.

    “As far as expanding the number of teams in the Playoff, it’s way too soon – much too soon – to know if that is even a possibility,” Keenum, who is also the President of Mississippi State University, said in the statement. “It’s fair to say the speculation about expansion has outdistanced the reality of what the commissioners and the presidents have discussed. If a decision were to be made down the road, the Presidents would be the ones to make it and we are not there.”

    The 2020 college football season had been highlighted in some media reports as an opportune time to expand the College Football Playoff field to eight teams. 2020 would mark the halfway point in a 12-year television deal with ESPN that expires after the 2025 season, which would allow each of the top six bowl games to host a College Football Playoff Semifinal an equal number of times in the first six years of the playoff era.

    “At some point down the road, as part of our regular review of all matters pertaining to the Playoff, the management committee will meet, and it will consider all aspects of the Playoff, as it routinely does,” Keenum said. “When that discussion happens, I advise observers not to read too much into it. We have a twelve-year contract we are very happy with. It is always appropriate to ask the right questions and to examine every issue to be sure we have things right. We are very satisfied with the Playoff and look forward to its continued success.”

    In a survey of the 11 members of the College Football Playoff Management Committee conducted by Stadium College Football Insider Brett McMurphy, three voted in favor of expanding the playoff to eight teams before the 2026 season. One member voted in favor of the playoff remaining a four-team field, three members were undecided and four abstained.

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