College Football Playoff expansion? Don’t hold your breath

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DALLAS — You may have asked the question yourself. Some of us are asked it all the time: When’s this newfangled College Football Playoff going to get over this four-teams business and expand?

It’ll be awhile, if it happens at all. Is it likely to happen eventually? Sure, probably. Why the heck not? Many fans seem to want it, for whatever that’s worth. Yet the current four-team agreement goes for 11 years after this one. CFP executive Bill Hancock told a small group of reporters here on Friday that an expansion to eight or any larger number could be damaging to the overall product of college football.

“We know there is a tipping point where the size of the bracket will erode the regular season,” Hancock said. “We don’t know what that tipping point is. We know it’s not four.”

Hancock includes conference championship games in his definition of the regular season, and those remain vitally important in the eyes of the playoff selection committee — witness the come-from-behind story of Big Ten champ Ohio State — and in terms of the momentum and excitement of the season. (Sorry, Big 12.) According to Hancock, preserving the existence and significance of the conference championship games is the biggest reason the playoff has four teams rather than eight. He also mentioned fan travel as a major consideration.

There might be “minor tweaks” to the playoff process in upcoming weeks — don’t be surprised if the committee releases its rankings less frequently next season — but, overall, Hancock believes the brain trust behind the playoff pretty much nailed its entire routine.

“Frankly,” he said, “I think we batted about .999 in our planning process.”

But now we’re mixing sports metaphors. Apologies.

More on league title games: Hancock referred to their “risk-reward nature,” underscoring the Buckeyes’ good fortune and Baylor’s and TCU’s collective disappointment and frustration. And yet: “If two games had turned out differently,” he said, “the Big 12 would be looking like geniuses.” In other words, had any two of Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State lost their league title games, both Baylor and TCU would’ve gotten into the playoff. We’re sure that thrills fans of the Bears and Horned Frogs.

Years 4-6: The national championship game will be in Glendale, Ariz., next season and in Tampa the season after that. The sites for the following three title games should be determined by September, Hancock said.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg

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