American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said guaranteeing each Power Five conference champion a spot in a potential 12-team playoff format would be “an enormous step in the wrong direction” in response to comments from outgoing Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott.
Aresco told ESPN that the Pac-12 was the only conference to raise the issue this week at the two-day College Football Playoff meetings in Chicago, where all 10 FBS commissioners met to formally review a proposal for a 12-team format.
Pac-12 commissioner Scott released a statement after Friday’s meetings, saying the Pac-12 “supports expansion of the CFP and believes that the Autonomy Five champions should annually qualify for the CFP.”
“I didn’t sense any other traction for it,” Aresco told ESPN. “That would be an enormous step in the wrong direction from the working group’s proposal as far as I’m concerned. The top six conferences, without favor, is merit-based. It’s fair. It doesn’t reward privilege for privilege’s sake.”
The proposal does not include guarantees for particular conference champions. ESPN reports that it calls for the bracket to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the six highest-ranked other teams as determined by the CFP’s selection committee.
Aresco said there aren’t any automatic qualifiers in the current four-team playoff system, which rewards the selection committee’s four highest-ranked teams with spots in the semifinals.
“The most desirable outcome obviously in our view is for this to be a meritocracy, where you have to earn it,” Aresco said of the 12-team proposal. “That was what was the smartest thing about the top six. I applaud the working group for doing that. To my mind and our conference, it was the most welcome part of it.”