No talks to expand CFP at spring meetings

IRVING, Texas -- There was no talk of expanding the College Football Playoff, and there are no plans to change the protocol for selecting the top four teams in the country, according to multiple Power 5 commissioners who attended Wednesday's annual CFP spring meetings.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said there have been discussions over the past several months about the protocol the commissioners designed for the 13 committee members to use, but that the CFP is "in a good place there as well."

While the current system is subjective, the protocol requires the committee members to "place an emphasis on winning conference championships, strength of schedule and head-to-head competition when comparing teams with similar records and pedigree."

Selection committee chair Rob Mullens, also Oregon's athletic director, was in the meeting to answer any questions.

"The discussion was really about how the selection committee was using that protocol, and if it was consistent with what was intended when the protocols were put together, and if there needed to be any clarification there," Swofford said. "It was a good, healthy discussion, but it didn't require any real significant change in the protocol. There's always some room for individual interpretation of the committee members as to how the protocols are used. It's the same with the NCAA basketball committee. I think we all understand that and accept it as part of the process."

Over the past five years, the ACC and SEC are the only two conferences that have had a team in every playoff. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have missed each of the past two years, and the Pac-12 has missed three of the five.

Still, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the current protocol has "really stood the test of time very nicely."

"By design, if you've got a committee of 13 highly competent, skilled people who come from different vantage points, it is a human decision and we're all leaving them latitude," Scott said.

The 10 FBS commissioners, along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, comprise the CFP's management committee, which discussed a variety of topics in what was a full day of meetings. The commissioners also met with ESPN executives, bowl representatives and the athletic directors from each of the 2019 participating semifinalists: Alabama's Greg Byrne, Clemson's Dan Radakovich, Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione (who is also one of the 13 selection committee members) and Swarbrick.

Swofford called the meetings "business as usual," a much quieter and far less anticipated gathering than when they met with the university presidents in January to discuss the growing public buzz surrounding expansion.

In January, just hours before the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, Mississippi State president Mark Keenum, chair of the playoff board of managers, released a statement making it clear that the university presidents were not ready to entertain expanding the playoff field.

"As far as expanding the number of teams in the playoff, it's way too soon -- much too soon -- to know if that is even a possibility," Keenum said then. "It's fair to say the speculation about expansion has outdistanced the reality of what the commissioners and the presidents have discussed. If a decision were to be made down the road, the presidents would be the ones to make it, and we are not there."

They're still not.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that statement still stands, and that his biggest takeaway from Wednesday's meetings was that "the College Football Playoff works well."

"The four-team college football playoff has achieved exactly what it was stated up front," Sankey said. "I have not heard a variance from the principals. I think the board of managers, the presidents, were very clear in where we are."

The commissioners will meet again on Thursday morning, but the meetings are expected to conclude by noon.