The College Football Playoff is going to expand, it's just a matter of when and how.
That isn't terribly groundbreaking, in and of itself, but in a statement Friday, the playoff committee basically confirmed change was coming to its postseason format without coming out and explicitly saying so. Following two days of virtual meetings, the committee announced a working group of four of its members had reviewed "63 possibilities for change," with fields of six, eight, 10, 12 and 16 teams under consideration.
But, in true playoff fashion, committee executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN's playoff liaison Heather Dinich that nothing was imminent.
"There will not be a new format this season or next season," Hancock said. "The timetable is certainly an important detail, but it hasn't been determined yet. It's too soon to predict the timing, but even if the board decides to alter the format, it may well not occur until after the current agreement has expired, which isn't until after the 2025 season."
With all due respect to Hancock, tapping the brakes is useless and college football power brokers are talking out of both sides of their mouth.
That the committee is even looking at expansion possibilities at all -- let alone 63! -- is a solid indicator that change is coming to the postseason of college football's highest level. Playoff expansion has always been a talking point ever since the new format's first year in 2014, but decision-makers have never really offered unified, specific alternatives, opting usually instead to respond with vague notions.
Playoff fatigue is also becoming a more prevalent thing with a handful of the same teams -- namely, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma -- making the field in most years.
Future expansion for the playoff has long been tied to the next round of TV contract negotiations, but in publicly coming out with viable alternatives, however many there may be, the committee has essentially confirmed that the writing is on the walls. It would be surprising for the playoff folks to deliver alternatives in the most explicit detail yet only to backtrack.
To Hancock's point, a new format probably won't happen this year or next, but it is coming. Even he can't downplay it that much anymore. And when it does, the key point won't necessarily be the number of teams, but rather how they're chosen.