Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith Expresses Concern Over Expanded College Football Playoff

Looming conference realignment makes it difficult to determine bids for expanded field.
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In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith expressed concerns about a 12-team playoff amid the changing landscape in college football.

“I think the pause button should be hit, Smith said. “We need to evaluate the landscape and what it’s going to look like. We still need to evaluate the 12-team playoff. We don’t need to rush into that when there’s legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.”

Smith’s comments are mostly tied to conference realignment, with Oklahoma and Texas set to move to the SEC in 2025 and other conferences potentially looking to make corresponding moves of their own. That, in turn, makes it difficult to determine bids for an expanded playoff.

Other leaders have also shown skepticism over ESPN holding exclusive rights to the College Football Playoff, especially after the network allegedly incentivized the American Athletic Conference to poach some of the Big XII’s remaining teams in order to dissolve the conference and allow the Longhorns and Sooners to move to the SEC – which has a television contact with ESPN – even earlier.

As it stands now, ESPN broadcasts all three College Football Playoff games and the New Year’s Six bowls. An expanded playoff only stands to make the network and its partner conferences more money.

“It’s behooves everyone not named the SEC and ACC (for the CFP rights to go to market),” an anonymous Power 5 athletic director from outside the Big Ten said. “It’s in all of our best interest (of other leagues) to let the contract through and go to open market. Why would a streaming service want to bid on a league like the Big Ten or Pac-12 to carry the regular season if they are going to just hand it over to ESPN for the playoffs?”

All that said, it make sense for Smith and other athletic directors in the Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12 pull back on the idea of College Football Playoff expansion for the time being. 

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