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Larry Scott proposed the College Football Playoff expand to 8 teams. Here’s why it wasn’t approved

The trophy is displayed before a news conference for the NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in New Orleans.
David J. Phillip, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott proposed to expand the College Football Playoff field from four to eight teams, but it was rejected by the CFP management committee Wednesday, ESPN first reported.

It’s the first time a Power Five commissioner has pitched an eight-team format for the playoff’s committee to consider, ESPN’s Heather Dinich reported.

“They decided that doing that now would be such a significant change, and come with so many challenges, especially given the timing with the season already underway, that they concluded that the best outcome would be to make no changes in the format,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN.

Hancock added that while the committee will continue to discuss the CFP’s future, for now, it is focused on dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The CFP is moving forward amid the COVID-19 pandemic this season, with this year’s matchups scheduled to be released Dec. 20.

Scott explained the reasoning behind proposing an eight-team playoff right now.

“In light of the pandemic and the varied schedules and reduced number of games — including no nonconference games for most teams — the committee will have to evaluate, I felt it was our responsibility and important to consider an expanded playoff that would include more teams and automatic qualifiers who are conference champions this year,” Scott told ESPN.

In the six-year history of the College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 has the fewest CFP appearances of the Power Five conferences. Oregon made the inaugural 2015 playoffs, beating Florida State in the semifinals before falling to Ohio State in the national championship. Washington made the CFP in 2017, losing to Alabama in the semifinals, but the Pac-12 has been shut out of the playoffs the past three seasons.

Stanford coach David Shaw expressed his belief that the CFP, in its seventh year of a 12-year contract, will one day expand.

“Whether it’s six or eight, at some point in time it’s going to happen,” Shaw told ESPN. “We all know it; we all believe it. We’re just going to do it very, very slowly and methodically, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.”