Phillips' stance on CFP expansion puts whole process in question

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips believes he and his peers should be focused on NCAA reform and federal NIL reformGETTY IMAGES

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips' comments on Friday regarding CFP expansion appear to "squash any hope of an expanded field before the 2026 college football season," according to Nicole Auerbach of THE ATHLETIC. Phillips repeatedly said that he believes he and his peers should "primarily be focused on NCAA reform, federal name, image and likeness reform help and the fallout of the Supreme Court’s ruling against the NCAA." ACC coaches “are unanimous” in their belief that "now isn’t the right time to expand" the four-team CFP. Phillips on Friday was asked twice if he "minded, essentially, being viewed as the bad guy," the one others will "point to as the reason the Playoff isn’t expanding before 2026." Phillips responded, "In that room, there hasn’t been agreement on a bunch of things. It’s fine. Relative to how it’s portrayed, I know that’s not necessarily the case. It’s not just the ACC. There are issues that everyone has" (, 1/13).

ON HOLD FOR NOW: Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said, “It’s become very clear to me that we don’t have the unanimous consent required to amend the current format in the 12-year term today" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/15). In N.Y., Ethan Sears wrote CFP expansion is "dead, for now." Since expanding the CFP requires "unanimous consent among league commissioners," the sport will be "stuck at four unless Phillips changes his mind." It is a "curious stance to hold" for a conference that has put just one permanent member other than Clemson into the CFP since its inception, and "failed to get anyone in this year" (N.Y. POST, 1/15). THE ATHLETIC's Stewart Mandel wrote the ACC's stance suggests this is "essentially a hung jury." At some point soon, the board will "have to throw in the towel" and "start discussing what an entirely new CFP structure might look like in 'Year 13'" (, 1/13).

REASONABLE STANCE:'s Pat Forde wrote it "might seem strange," but Phillips "reasonably articulated why he’s willing to lie down on the tracks in front of the 12-team train." Kliavkoff and Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren are "holding out for relatively minor alterations of the proposed model," but Phillips is "taking a stronger stance." Forde: "His take, distilled: We have a dozen things to worry about before even seriously addressing a new Playoff structure." One of the "most striking objections" Phillips raised Friday was this: "There is too much football. The season is too long." Phillips and his conference "have a point about trying to contain the physical risk and academic difficulty that would come with an expanded" CFP. The "easiest way to have both" is to "at least consider doing away with the most disposable games of the year: the conference championships" (, 1/14).

OTHER ISSUES FACING COMMISSIONERS: In Detroit, Rainer Sabin wrote Warren has "remained both stubborn and defiant." But whether the Big Ten can "realistically compete" with the SEC is a "vexing question Warren and the rest of the Big Ten must have been asking themselves as they watched the SEC infiltrate one of their power bases and hold a showcase event at the national championship game" in Indianapolis. Big Ten Country was "sacked by the mighty SEC," whose "reign over college football isn’t likely to end any time soon" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/16). Meanwhile, in San Jose, Jon Wilner wrote Kliavkoff has been on the job for six-and-a-half months and "deserves high marks for managing the issues within his control." Kliavkoff’s work on most major issues to this point has "focused on preparing to execute when his chance arrives, in particular with the media rights negotiations -- the most important issue that will fall within his control" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 1/15).

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