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How Coronavirus Could Lead To An Expanded College Football Playoff

Last week, we discussed Stadium's survey to over 100 FBS ADs, who almost unanimously agreed that the CFP should be expanded. In that blog, I discussed that the expansion wasn't coming until at least 2026 due to the contract. That timeline may be moving up a bit. 

Today, Peter Thamel wrote a column on how the financial fallout may lead to a CFP expansion. 

SOURCE-After interviews with a dozen officials around college athletics, it’s highly likely we’re amid another pivotal moment in the sport. The inevitable financial strain that will accompany the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to help trigger an expansion of the College Football Playoff.

Even if we have a season with no fans, the college sports world will feel MASSIVE economic issues:

Thamel continued:

“I think we were moving in that direction anyway,” said a conference commissioner. “Could it be accelerated by something like this? It’s a good point. Revenue is going to be an issue. It’s not on the front burner yet, but it’s a legitimate question.”

If it's up to any college football fan, I'm sure we would all take a normal season this year. If it comes down to it, an expanded CFP wouldn't be the worst trade-off if the virus determines that the season is cancelled. 

That said, we won’t see a reformatted playoff for at least two more college football seasons. The 2020 season — whatever that comes to look like — is certainly not going to be the place where we see a different postseason format. Those familiar with the system say that putting changes in place for the 2021 season would be virtually impossible.

So the earliest an expansion could happen would be following the 2022 season, which means that leagues and programs wouldn’t get a bigger paycheck until the spring of 2023. Hopefully by then, COVID-19 is a distant memory and some normalcy has returned to the landscape.

Overall, P5 conferences get an average of $70 million a year from the CFP/New Years 6. That equals about $5.5 million per school. If we moved to an 8-team playoff, that number would move up to a projected $127 million a year to conferences, $10 million per school. You bump that up to a 16-team playoff? The overall contract would be a projected 1.45 billion dollars, most of which would be distributed to conferences and then given to programs. That's massive money, that will be needed if a season is lost.