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Should the CFP expand? FBS athletic directors respond

January 2, 2019

The Associated Press reached out to athletic directors around the country and asked three questions ahead of Monday’s national championship game between Alabama and Clemson: Should the College Football Playoff expand beyond four teams? If so, what would be your preferred number of teams? Why should the playoff expand or why not?

Athletic directors don’t have a lot of power in the playoff process, but they can help guide decisions ultimately made by conference commissioners and university presidents. A sampling of their responses:

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“Expansion is more complicated than simply deciding to add teams, but with five years of data, it’s certainly worth exploring possible changes while keeping the student-athlete experience as our top priority.” — Penn State’s Sandy Barbour.

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“The college football playoff format should not be expanded and current cycle should be allowed to run the full length of the contract period and then be evaluated. All of the FBS conferences agreed to this current structure when it was created and that important point should not be overlooked in all of this public debate. Every FBS conference benefits from the exposure and financial upside. I believe we should be leaders in college athletics and evolve our games, enhance our sports and create a better experience for student-athletes, but in this moment and in the future, four teams is the right number.” — Mississippi’s Ross Bjork.

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“The 4-team playoff is working well. Expanding the number of CFP teams would harm the regular season with no guarantee of an improved playoff system. In addition, making a couple teams play 16 games and possibly extending the season into mid-January and playing the quarter-finals in mid-December would cause problems academically.” — Wake Forest’s Ron Wellman.

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“I often hear that we don’t want a full-fledged FBS playoff because of the toll it would take on the athletes, both academically and physically. I think that is a disingenuous argument because at every other level (FCS, Division II, Division III) the NCAA sponsors a full field for a championship tournament. The challenge we would have is meshing the CFP and the bowls together, much like the current CFP has incorporated the New Year’s Day Bowl games.” — UTEP’s Jim Senter.

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“The bigger issue I see is the inequities in regular-season scheduling among conferences and teams that needs to be fixed. Some teams this year played eight Power Five opponents, some played nine while others like West Virginia would have played 11 Power Five schools if our N.C. State game had not been canceled. The inequity in scheduling strength is more of concern to me than CFP expansion. Let’s continue to let the CFP committee do its job and not rush especially when we are not even halfway into the current contract.” — West Virginia’s Shane Lyons.

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“There are too many quality teams who could legitimately win the national title but are left out of the playoff. I’m in favor of automatic bids for the champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, as well as the highest ranked team from the Group of Five, leaving two slots for at-large teams. The challenge will be in determining where to play first-round games.” — Charlotte’s Mike Hill.

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“Eight teams at least, and I think 16 should be analyzed as well. ... So that FBS college football can cease to be the only sport in America that doesn’t have a postseason settled through competition. The student-athletes deserve to have one true national champion, determined on the field. That is not possible, in most years, with a four-team playoff.” — Central Florida’s Danny White.

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“If we want to combat the popularity of the NFL and continue to grow the reach of the college game, we must increase the relevancy of the College Football Playoff on a national scale. Expansion would create additional opportunities for access from teams outside of the so-called Power Five and allow all of us a more significant chance to showcase our universities and programs at a higher level. With expansion, there is also the possibility for additional revenue streams through sponsorships, ticket sales and television rights and that should be explored.” — Cincinnati’s Mike Bohn.

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“College basketball has flourished as the NCAA field has expanded. FCS has a highly successful playoff structure with a recently expanded field. There is considerable interest and depth of field to add teams to the CFP without diluting the championship or negatively impacting student-athlete welfare. Interest is sky high already with a four-team field. Think of how much interest an eight-team field would generate.” — Old Dominion’s Wood Selig.

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“I believe no matter how many teams you have involved in the CFP, there will always be conversation regarding the issue of teams being left out. It happens in a 64-team bracket where teams 65, 66 and 67 believe they should participate. Adding more teams to the CFP will impact current bowl games so I think that needs to be vetted. I do, however, believe it is in the best interest of the FBS to have conversations regarding expansion. The issue will be if and when.” — San Jose State’s Marie Tuite.

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“I respect the CFP and believe the experience on the committee is second to none. I’m looking for meaningful games in the month of December and would like our program to have a shot for a true championship. I think an eight-team playoff can get it there.” — Northern Illinois’ Sean T. Frazier.

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