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ACC Commissioner Explains Why Conference is Against CFP Expansion Right Now

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said on Friday that the conference's membership “is very much aligned in its position that now is not the time to expand the College Football Playoff."

Per the commissioner, there are multiple aspects that are complicating expansion right now—the length of season, impact on bowls, athlete healthcare, academic calendar, NCAA governance structure and federal legislation to name a few. Some have questioned whether the ACC's stance on expansion pertains to adding Notre Dame to the conference, which Phillips said “is absolutely positively not true.”

He continued by saying there are “much larger issues” that the ACC is more focused on working with other conferences on right now, such as NCAA reform, transfer portal and NIL to name a few. "We don't have a college football playoff problem. We have a college football and NCAA problem.”

Phillips added that there is a “desperate need for a 365-day review of all aspects” to create a “21st century governance structure” and “develop reasonable guardrails around NIL and transfer portal." 

The commissioner did say that the ACC does support expansion, but that the league's coaches are “unanimous” that now is not the time. He added that “in Year 13 (2026), we'll have a new model, I'm sure,” and the commissioners should be focused on working towards that rather than try to implement it early. 

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But at this time, the conference feels the “best thing to do” is remain at four teams. The ACC is not the first conference to voice this opinion. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has previously stated that they are “fine with four.”

“In that room, there hasn't been agreement on a bunch of things,” Phillips said on Friday. “It's not just the ACC. There are issues everyone has.”

Sankey (SEC commissioner), Bob Bowlsby (Big 12 commissioner), Craig Thompson (Mountain West commissioner) and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick proposed the 12-team playoff model in June 2021, which would guarantee spots to the six highest-ranked conference champions as well as at-large bids to the next six highest-ranked teams.

Since then, the committee has continued to deliberate, delaying its decision again on Wednesday. The main obstacle still exists; there is no unanimous consensus on a specific format. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger previously reported that they continued to argue over the number of teams (eight vs. 12) as well as the role of automatic qualifiers (no automatic qualifiers vs. some AQs vs. AQs for Power 5 champions).

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