Navigating the ideal COVID scenario for CFP expansion deadlock, Utah’s good news, QB uncertainty and hoops

Comment on the latest Pac-12 developments…

Fall: CFP expansion likely soonest

The commissioners of the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame’s athletic director will meet in Indianapolis this weekend to once again attempt to reach a consensus on the format of the college football playoff expansion.

Don’t expect a satisfactory solution. There are too many conflicting priorities and, up to this point, not enough reason to settle.

With each passing month, the likelihood of the current model being maintained through the current contract cycle increases exponentially.

Which means the earliest we may see a 12-team event in the 2026 season.

Which would mean four more years of the four-team format.

Which would be bad for the Pac-12. very very bad.

The conference has not reached the playoff stage since 2016 and accounts for only two of the 32 semi-final slots in the event’s history.

To be yesterday it needed expansion.

Every season that comes and goes without a playoff berth feeds the narrative that the Pac-12 has fallen behind and provides elite recruits with reasons to step down.

Commissioner George Klewkopf believes the best route to resolution may be to focus on the future.

An extension to the playoffs at any time in the 2022–25 season would require a unanimous (11–0) vote, but a playoff extension beginning in the 2026 season – for the next contract cycle – would not.

If a collection of conventions agree on a model for ’26, they can use the strength in numbers to bring together any holdouts.

This may compromise future models to be applied in the present day.

Given the deadlock, it’s worth a try – Anything worth a try.

But this is certain:

Once the timing of expansion is clear, the Pac-12 must move swiftly to implement any strategic changes (eight conference games, no divisions, etc.) that will improve its playoff chances. Gives you the best chance.

Even if it means changing the structure of the regular season for the near term, then adjusting again when the new format starts in 2026.

Rising: Utah’s 2022 Outlook

The Utes’ quest for a second consecutive conference title got a 21-touchdown boost this week when star tailback Tavian Thomas announced he would return for the ’22 season.

up arrow

The news came as a mild surprise—Thomas looks like a high-round draft pick to us—and seemingly moves Utah into the role of heavy favorite not only within the division but for the conference.

Also a comeback for the Utes: quarterback Cam Rising, tight end Brent Quithe, multiple starts on both lines of scrimmage and two elite defensive backs, Clark Phillips and Cole Bishop.

(Alas, Brit Covey won’t be back for his 17th season; he’s entering the draft.)

Thomas must be one of the country’s top tailbacks and will be a huge starting platform to showcase his talents to anyone currently unaware:

The Utes began the season in Florida.

Fall: Pac-12 QB Certainty.

Quarterback play wasn’t nearly good enough during the conference in ’21, and Hotline plans to closely track developments in the upcoming off-season.

Over the past few weeks, the situation has changed drastically for several teams:

– Auburn’s Bo Knicks is relocating to Oregon, worsening Eugene’s position and creating competition for new player Ty Thompson.

— UCF’s Dillon Gabriel headed for UCLA, then reversed course this week and is bound for Oklahoma.

– Purdue’s Jack Plummer picked Cal and became an instant favorite to replace Chase Garbers.

– Michael Penix of Indiana selected Washington, where he would compete with Sam Huard and probably Dylan Morris for the starting spot.

Meanwhile, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson Robinson has yet to announce his plans for 2021 (return or file a draft at Westwood), and several schools are examining options in the transfer portal.

One name to watch out for, in particular: Can Oklahoma’s Caleb Williams follow Lincoln Riley to USC?

While this move makes sense on many levels, the hotline doesn’t see Trojans as the clear favorite at this point.

Rising: Pac-12 Basketball Postponed