April 23, 2024


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The 14-team College Football Playoff model could include 3 automatic bids to the Big Ten, SEC

The 14-team College Football Playoff model could include 3 automatic bids to the Big Ten, SEC

Among the models discussed for a potential 14-team expansion of the College Football Playoff in 2026 is at least one that would include multiple automatic qualifying spots for each Power 4 conference.

A person familiar with the discussions said The athlete The 3-3-2-2-1 model will have three automatic spots each for the Big Ten and SEC, two each for the Big 12 and ACC and one for the Group of Five, along with three at-large spots. Yahoo Sports It was first reported that the specific model is being discussed among officials.

The CFP Management Committee, made up of 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director, met last week in Dallas. The group emerged from the weekend feeling optimistic that key issues would finally be resolved after the SEC and the Big Ten, the richest and most powerful conferences, set their preferences. Among these topics, a 14-team and 16-team model have been discussed, with the 14-team model receiving more attention, should expansion occur. More auto-qualifying points in this model was also a major point of discussion.

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“We're just looking at the numbers,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said of the idea of ​​more car shows last week. “It's been brought up. We'll have to go through the process.”

The 3-3-2-2-1 model could be similar to the Champions League, with Europe's top domestic football leagues being awarded more AQ places and absences in the European Championship than the lower leagues. But one notable difference is that Championship Football involves a much larger number of teams (and leagues) and takes place simultaneously during the season, rather than after it. Another difference is that domestic European leagues do not have post-season tournaments to determine their champion, because each team plays another team. The ranking determines their champions.

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This model could create more stakes for the regular season, as schools in each Power 4 league would be competing for that final spot as guaranteed as football, in theory. It will focus more on conference standings than the controversial CFP rankings. But it may also raise questions about the need for conference championship games, especially when the Big 12 and ACC champions are a long way from winning the first round, diminishing the value of winning the tournament. Overgrown conferences could also see uneven strength of schedule within their leagues play a role in the final standings. Notre Dame may also need a minimum to secure a spot if the Fighting Irish are ranked above second-place teams in conferences.

“Does this destroy the benefit of conference champions?” said the person familiar with the discussions.


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A 3-3-2-2-1 model could instead be attractive to the ACC and Big 12 with guarantees. Although they will lose in the first round most years and consolidate themselves behind the Big Ten/SEC, they will pick up at least two spots each year. The ACC and Big 12 finished 2023 with one top-14 team among their future members.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten and SEC will likely get three teams in a 14-team model most years anyway after their upcoming expansion with additions including former CFP teams Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon and Washington.

CFP officials hope to finalize everything for 2026 and beyond by the end of March. This includes not only potential expansion, but also revenue sharing and governance voting powers, with the SEC and Big Ten expected to receive more revenue and carry more weight. Decisions will not need consensus from 2026 onwards. Further expansion of the CFP beyond 12 will still need approval by the Chairs of the Board of Directors. All of this should be over within a month, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said last week, which also extends to basketball tournaments on the calendar.

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ESPN, which The athlete The aforementioned company agreed to terms on a six-year contract extension through 2031 with CFP representatives worth an average of $1.3 billion annually, and was frustrated by how long the process was taking. With more expansions being discussed now, it's also unclear how much ESPN would be willing to pay for two additional first-round games.

After sharing updates with their members, CFP commissioners are expected to begin Zoom calls with each other to resolve matters in early March. The situation remains fluid. Of course, a 12-team CFP for the next two seasons didn't even happen.

“Ultimately, what is the right model for (2026) and beyond?” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said last week. “We continue to listen to each other and try to put together something practical that is good for college football, good for the conference and Notre Dame and also the long-term health and well-being of college football.”

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(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)