Tuesday, April 23, 2024

College Football Playoff expected to approve expansion as FBS leaders agree on revenue distribution

The 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame are expected to confirm on Friday a 14-team College Football Playoff field and updated revenue model starting in 2026, sources close to the negotiations tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Details on the 14-team CFP model will be decided at a later time, but the agreement clears the way for the CFP to agree to a contract extension with ESPN to broadcast the tournament. 

The new revenue model will significantly benefit the Big Ten and SEC, launching them firmly ahead of the Big 12 and ACC moving forward. The new contract will pay the Big Ten and SEC 29% of the upcoming contract, sources tell Dodd, which works out to approximately $22 million per school. The ACC will receive 17% ($13-14 million per school) and the Big 12 will sit around 15% ($12 million per school). The numbers represent a raise across the board as all Power Five institutions receive approximately $5 million per school in the previous contract. 

The ACC will receive a slightly higher payout in the next contract as the league has produced eight CFP semifinalists to only two in the continuing Big 12, according to ESPN. The proposed contract includes a “look-in” clause that allows the CFP to adjust payouts in 2028 based on performance, or if there is another round of realignment. 

The Group of Five will split 9% of the contract, but the number may not be split evenly among the teams and five conferences. The independent schools will split 1%, while Notre Dame will get the bulk at around $12 million, according to multiple reports. 

While pressing details around the format have yet to be finalized, the 14-team playoff represents a departure from the 12-team field, which was agreed to for the final two years of the previous media rights contract. The CFP will hold the first 12-team playoff in 2024 as the initial television rights deal is slated to expire after the 2025 College Football Playoff. 

When discussions began, sources told CBS Sports that the Big Ten and SEC would seek to receive as many as four automatic qualifiers each — eight total — in an expanded playoff. Coming out of the first College Football Playoff Management Committee meeting, it seemed as if a “3-3-2-2-1” model was gaining the most traction; that would have the Big Ten and SEC receiving three AQs, the ACC and Big 12 getting two each and the Group of Five being guaranteed a playoff bid with three at-large spots remaining.

As part of that model, the Big Ten and SEC sought to be guaranteed the only two byes in the bracket on an annual basis with their respective conference champions immediately advancing to the second week of play.

Discussions pivoted after that proposed format led to a substantial outcry with fairness being immediately called into question.

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