ACC commish: Conference is 'unanimous' in opposition to expanding College Football Playoff in near future

·4-min read

The ACC doesn't want the College Football Playoff to expand anytime soon.

Commissioner Jim Phillips said Friday that the conference was united in its opposition to expansion of the four-team format. Postseason expansion progress has slowed considerably since the playoff floated the idea of an eight or 12-team format this summer. And opposition like the ACC's is a big reason why.

The four-team playoff format has been in place since the 2014 season and there are four years left on the current contract with ESPN. The current playoff rotates its semifinals among six bowls before a national championship game played at a different site each season.

The details of an eight or 12-team playoff have been a big sticking point. Bowls want to host playoff games, but teams seeded Nos. 5-12 in a 12-team playoff would be facing the prospect of four neutral-site postseason games if every playoff game was at a bowl site. Conferences are also unable to come to an agreement on how the playoff would be filled. Would conference champions automatically get a bid? How many spots would non-Power Five teams be guaranteed? Would the playoff field simply consist of the top teams in the committee's end of season rankings?

Some of the ACC's opposition centers around the number of games that an expanded playoff would create. A team could play as many as 17 games if it went to a conference title game and played four games in a 12-team playoff.

Clemson is the only true ACC team to make the playoff multiple times

While the ACC may be in favor of playoff expansion after the current four-team contract runs out, the conference is likely denying its 13 other teams outside of Clemson a shot at the postseason in the short term.

Clemson is the only team from the conference to make the playoff multiple times in the eight years of the format not counting Notre Dame's appearance as an ACC member in the pandemic-impacted 2020 season. Barring a surprise run from one of the other teams in the ACC, Clemson will likely continue to be the conference's only possible representative in this current format. The SEC is the only conference that has gotten two teams into the playoff in the same season and the Big Ten and SEC are the only conferences to have three different teams make a playoff appearance. Florida State (in 2014) is the only other ACC team to make the playoff.

If the 12-team playoff was in effect in 2021, Pitt would have been a part of the field. Instead, the Panthers faced Michigan State in a Peach Bowl that was played without star Pitt QB Kenny Pickett and star Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III. Those two likely would have played if that was a first-round playoff game.

Expansion seems on hold

It's becoming more and more likely that the four-team playoff will not be replaced anytime in the next four seasons. And that's disappointing for fans of teams outside the SEC. The conference has a hold on the top of college football and an expanded playoff would give more teams from around the country the chance to play for the national title.

Expanding the playoff is the biggest way to avoid the regionalization of college football; especially as Oklahoma and Texas are set to join the SEC in the next few seasons. Instead, the powers that be in college football are content to focus on other things before worrying about the sport's national relevance.

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