May 24, 2024

Air Force Academy superintendent Richard M. Clark has been named the next College Football Playoff executive director.

Clark is a former star linebacker at Air Force who went on to a distinguished career in the military that saw him rise to the level of lieutenant general.

“General Clark’s experience leading the U.S Air Force Academy as a Three-star General and also being a four-year letter winner with the U.S Air Force Football team gives him a strong background to excel in this crucial leadership role,” Mark Keenum, Mississippi State president and the chairman of the CFP board of managers, said in a statement.

Sources told ESPN that Clark impressed the CFP brass with his deep history of leadership, as he is described as having a strong background as a “leader of leaders.” He emerged from a pool of three finalists who interviewed in person this week.

Clark’s assignments prior to taking over as the superintendent at the Air Force included commanding bases around the country, working as a White House fellow and serving as a senior defense official in Egypt. His assignment before taking over at Air Force was deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration at the Pentagon.

He takes over for Bill Hancock, who announced his retirement after this current cycle of CFP bowls.

“We will surely miss Bill Hancock, but I want to note that Bill has graciously offered to stay on board through January 2025 to help General Clark get ready,” Keenum said in the statement. “Bill will remain at the helm throughout this season, while 2024 will mark a year of transition. Bill has been an outstanding leader for CFP’s first 10 years. Everyone in college football owes Bill a debt of gratitude.”

Clark takes over the sport’s postseason at a crossroads; the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams starting in the 2024 season.

“College football is an American tradition unlike any other,” Clark said in a statement. “Especially now, as the Playoff is expanding from four teams to 12 teams, this is an exciting time for fans and everyone involved in this great game. I’m excited to be a part of it and I look forward to beginning my work.”

There are just two years remaining on the CFP’s television contract. The contractual logistics of those final years on the current deal — for the 2024 and 2025 seasons — are in flux.

Ultimately, the biggest challenge of Clark’s tenure will be the next full CFP contract, which is expected to be a multibillion-dollar deal and projects to be split up among multiple media partners.

Structuring that deal will go a long way to shaping the future of the sport.

Clark also has strong relationships in Washington, D.C., which loom large if the CFP role expands from the largely procedural role of Hancock.

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