LOS ANGELES — Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff is so bullish on College Football Playoff expansion that he told ESPN on Friday he potentially sees the format changing before the current contracts ends following the 2025 season.
“I’m really confident that we’re going to expand the College Football Playoff,” Kliavkoff told ESPN. “It actually wouldn’t surprise me once we agree on the format, if it happens before the end of the current term. Once you agree to the format, why wouldn’t you?”
Kliavkoff’s comments are counter to the notion populated by the College Football Playoff board of managers in February that the format would not expand until a new format is put in place for the 2026 season. Others expressed skepticism at the timeline, considering that an expansion decision would need to be made in the upcoming months. The next CFP meeting is in mid-August via Zoom, sources told ESPN, and there’s another planned a month later.
Kliavkoff’s optimism is based on the tenor of the most recent CFP meeting in Park City, Utah, last month. “[It was] the most productive CFP meeting I’ve been in. I’m incredibly optimistic that we’re actually going to get there.”
Can that lead to a new format before the end of the current contract? That would require unanimous approval, which is always tricky in a room with so many dynamics and stakeholders.
“We’re closer than we ever have been to agreeing to a format,” Kliavkoff said. “The lack of agreement about a format held us back from doing it quickly, as opposed to slowly.
“I said it back when we originally met on this. Once you agree to a format, you can shoehorn that into the existing contract. If we agree on what it looks like past the existing contract, why wouldn’t you try and do it quicker?”
In the fall, there was discussion about expanding the playoff field as early as 2024 or 2025, but the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 ultimately voted against it in January and February for various reasons. In order for it to still happen before the current, 12-year contract expires after the 2025 season, CFP executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN, “many, many details would have to be worked out.”
“We’ll have to see,” Hancock said. “There’s a lot more talk ahead.” Hancock said the commissioners haven’t talked about playoff expansion since June and the presidents and chancellors haven’t discussed it since May.
“The board and the management committee will discuss the format when the time comes,” Hancock said. “I do feel like the commissioners were more open to change and collaborative when they met in June than they were in February.”
Hancock said the June meeting didn’t include any talk about a potential 16-team format, and the conversation was more philosophical than it was “in the weeds” about a format. The commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick initially liked the concept of rewarding the top four teams with a bye in the 12-team format — something that would be lost with a 16-team field.
Swarbrick didn’t rule out the possibility of a sped-up timeline for a…