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Big 12's Bowlsby: Playoff Expansion 'In Some Jeopardy'

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On the day before the 2021 college football bowl schedule was finalized, Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated that expanding the College Football Playoff beyond its current four teams as soon as the 2024 season is "in some jeopardy" if an agreement on a new format cannot be reached soon.

Speaking Saturday to reporters before the Big 12 championship game, Bowlsby said expansion talks have slowed to the point where the chances of implementing a new format before the current 12-year agreement ends after the 2025 season are waning, according to an Associated Press report.

"Well, just for purely logistical reasons, year 11 [2024] is probably in some jeopardy at this point, just because there's good and appropriate things you have to do in order to host the games," Bowlsby said.

"I think it's also a possibility that we wouldn't be able to do it for year 12 [2025] and we'll be talking about what do we do in year 13 and beyond because, you know, for all intents and purposes, the CFP goes away [after 2025]. There is no operating agreement beyond 2025-26 and there are no contracts that bind us beyond '25-26."

The CFP management committee, made up of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, met early last week and in Dallas and still could not reach consensus on a a proposal to expand the playoff from four to 12 teams.

It takes consensus of all 11 members of the management committee to move forward on a playoff proposal that would still need approval from the university presidents and chancellors who oversee the CFP.

The next scheduled meeting of the commissioners and the presidents is around the Jan. 10 national championship game in Indianapolis, but the commissioners could convene again sooner.

If this attempt to expand by 2024 fails, Bowlsby said the group could start from scratch on a new model — but not necessarily.

"I suspect that a lot of the work that the working group did will be a basis for that, because we did a fairly thorough vetting on virtually any model you can name. And so it's likely to be the underpinning of it — but you never know," he said.

One of the issues that has become a stumbling block to expansion is which conferences are guaranteed automatic access for their champions.

In the 12-team proposal unveiled in June and put forth by Bowlsby, Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick and Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson recommended the six highest-ranked conference champions from all 10 FBS leagues make the playoff along with six highest-ranked at-large selections.

Group of 5 conference commissioners, most notably Mike Aresco from the American Athletic Conference, prefer automatic access not be limited to Power 5 champions.

Bowlsby on Saturday laid out one of the reasons the group avoided automatic access for just the Power 5.

"We found out the extent to which we anoint ourselves in the privileges, including automatic access, is usually the extent to which we get called before Congress or we get challenged legally," Bowlsby said, as reported by the AP. "There are good reasons why we proposed six highest-ranked conference champions and those reasons haven't changed."

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