BCS executive director Bill Hancock has said before that the four-team playoff model that will begin being used in the 2014 season is locked in with four teams through the 12 years of the new format contract. But how long until that playoff pool expands, as many seem to believe is bound to happen at some point now that the door to a playoff has been opened? Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson suggested it could be expanded before 2026, despite Hancock's previous statements.
"I'm probably in the minority in that I don't know we're going to stay at four [teams] for the next 12 years," Thompson said during an interview with SiriusXM College Sports Nation on Tuesday (quoted by CBS Sports). "I know that's what the contracts say and everybody's following the script these days. We'll see. Who knows where we'll be down the road."
Under the current format we will get the top four teams chosen to play in a four-team playoff through the use of a selection committee. What factors go in to those selections remains to be seen, although some coaches are stumping for an emphasis on the coaches poll (because coaches like to have the upper hand despite their input probably having the least genuine impact or influence in this situation). The format also ensures that the highest ranked conference champion from the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA, American, and Sun Belt will receive a spot in one of the big-money bowls while the other conferences already have their tie-ins lined up. It is likely that the Mountain West Conference tends to take advantage of this often once Louisville leaves the American for the ACC and Rutgers leaves for the Big Ten.
Naturally, Thompson's conference has been one of the more fortunate non-AQs in the BCS era and as such has been one of the more vocal conferences looking for more opportunities to play with the big boys. when and how the playoff model expands remains to be seen. whether it benefits the Mountain West more or not also would be up in the air, but certainly Thompson probably holds the most clout right now among the traditionally non-AQ conferences.