Pawtucket Times

CFP expanding to 12 teams starting with 2024 campaign


Over the past 25 years, college football’s postseason format for crowning a national champion has grown from two teams to four and now, starting in 2024, to 12.

For a sport that started in 1869 and spent most the 20th century using bowls and polls to determine who was No. 1, evolution has hit warp speed, racing from Bowl Championsh­ip Series to College Football Playoff 2.0.

“The times change, things change,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said. “Things have moved pretty quickly relative to the last 153 years.”

The CFP announced Thursday that it will expand to a 12-team event in two years, completing an 18-month process that was fraught with delays and disagreeme­nts. It is a momentous step, one with billions of dollars at stake in terms of TV and streaming revenue and one that changes the very fabric of the postseason.

The announceme­nt came a day after the Rose Bowl agreed to amend its contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, the last hurdle CFP officials needed cleared to triple the size of what is now a four-team format.

“I never gave up,” Hancock said. Expansion is expected to produce about $450 million in additional gross revenue for the conference­s and schools that participat­e. The CFP’s current 12-year contract with ESPN runs through the 2025-26 season. CFP officials have said they would like to explore having multiple broadcast partners in the next cycle.

The idea of major college football holding a playoff dates back decades and the Championsh­ip Subdivisio­n has had one since 1978. The late Penn State coach Joe Paterno pined for one in the 1970s. Former Big Eight Commission­er Chuck Nienas proposed one in the late 1980s.

The creation of the BCS in the late 1990s was the first step toward a real playoff, Hancock said.

“The BCS for the first time gave an opportunit­y to decide a national champion on the field every year, not just at the whims of the bowl pairings,” Hancock said.

The BCS used polls and computer rankings to ensure a 1 vs. 2 bowl game from 1998-2013, but at times produced questionab­le matchups that left fans unsatisfie­d.

“We had congressme­n and senators getting involved in the selection process.

Harnois isn’t just a familiar face in North Smithfield, he’s also a big part of Woonsocket athletics and civil service. Playing alongside Woonsocket two-sport coach Dan Belisle and All-Staters Jim Morisseau and Dave Gervais, the Novans claimed the 1986 baseball state title and Harnois was a standout pitcher on the 1987 team that went undefeated until losing to Hendricken in the state final.

Harnois went on to work in the Woonsocket Fire Department before retiring and focusing on raising and coaching both of his kids, who are in the high school.

Just like Belisle, who recently stepped down as the Novans coach, Harnois is a calming presence on the sideline who rarely raised his voice to referees. While he’s going to stand up for his players, Harnois said he doesn’t plan to be confrontat­ional with referees.

“I’ve been around a long time and I have a lot of years in basketball under my belt,” Harnois said. “I get along with a lot of the referees. I’m not looking for any special treatment and I respect the rules that the refs talk about before the game. I respect the game and me being belligeren­t is never going to accomplish anything. I’ve seen it and you’ve seen it and I’m not going to be that way.”

Harnois has a fresh canvas to paint with because all five starters who helped the Northmen reach the Division III final for first time

since 2014 have moved on. Senior forward Sam Ledger, talented sophomore wing Mya Silveira, junior guard Ava O’Neill and sophomore

guard Reaghan Reilly all played valuable minutes off the bench last season.

One key piece, junior Kate Zo

nin, won’t play this season after tearing her ACL in a soccer scrimmage in September.

Harnois is excited to see the developmen­t of Silveira, who should lead the team in scoring this season.

“The first things we’re looking at as coaches is hard work and effort,” said Harnois, who will be assisted by Paul Lefebvre, who is in his ninth season on staff. “At some point, it’s going to be about hard work, effort and the results. We need to put the ball in the hoop. These kids understand what we want from them, they just have never had the opportunit­y.”

Harnois is also excited for the developmen­t of his team’s freshmen and sophomore classes, but most of those kids are likely going to spend the season with Lefebvre on the JV team. One of those kids is Harnois’ daughter, freshman Keira Harnois. Harnois’ son, Ethan, is a senior who helped the Northmen win the Division III baseball title last spring.

The Northmen, who remain in Division III, open with a nonleague game next Friday night against Mount St. Charles, which is coached by Harnois’ friend and former Woonsocket High classmate, Ed Cunanan. The regular-season begins Dec. 14 against Lincoln, whose new assistant coach is NS football coach Jeff Paiva.

“I just want to see five girls at a time play as a cohesive unit,” Harnois said. “That success doesn’t come in the form of wins, it comes in the form of effort. Hard work is something that is big thing with me and the girls know that and we’re going to continue to do that as we go along and attempt to improve.”

 ?? File photo ?? After graduating the core of last season’s Division III finalist team, North Smithfield is building around a young core and a new coach, Gary Harnois. The Northmen begin the season next Friday with a non-league game against Mount.
File photo After graduating the core of last season’s Division III finalist team, North Smithfield is building around a young core and a new coach, Gary Harnois. The Northmen begin the season next Friday with a non-league game against Mount.

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