College Football Playoff’s 14-team model could include 3 automatic bids to Big Ten and SEC | Top Vip News


Among the models discussed in the possible expansion of the 14-team College Football Playoffs 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 Athletic a 3-3-2-2-1 model would feature three automatic spots each for the Big Ten and SEC, two each for the Big 12 and ACC and one for the Group of 5, along with three at-large spots. Yahoo Sports reported for the first time the specific model being discussed among administrators.

The CFP management committee, made up of 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, met last week in Dallas. The group left the weekend feeling optimistic about finally resolving key issues after the SEC and the Big Ten, the richest and most powerful conferences, laid out their preferences. Among those topics, a 14- and 16-team model were discussed, and the 14-team model would gain more traction, should expansion occur. More automatic qualifying positions in that model were also a key point of discussion.

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“We’re just looking at the numbers,” Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said last week of the idea of ​​more automatic bidding. “It was mentioned. We will have to go through the process.”

A 3-3-2-2-1 model could be similar to the UEFA Champions League, where Europe’s major domestic soccer leagues receive more AQ spots and byes in the European tournament than the minor leagues. But one notable difference is that the soccer tournament includes many more teams (and leagues) and runs simultaneously within the season, rather than after it. Another difference is that domestic European leagues do not have postseason tournaments to determine their champion, because each team plays every other team. The classification determines its champions.

This model could create more stakes for the regular season, as schools in each Power 4 league would compete for that last guaranteed spot like football, in theory. I would put more emphasis on conference rankings than the controversial CFP rankings. But it would also call into question the need for conference championship games, especially when the Big 12 and ACC champions would have little chance of earning a first-round bye, diminishing the value of winning a championship. Bloated conferences could also see scheduling inequality within their leagues influence the final standings. Notre Dame may also need a threshold to guarantee a spot if the Fighting Irish are ranked above the second-place teams in the conferences.

“Does that destroy the usefulness of conference champions?” said the person aware of the discussions.

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Instead, the 3-3-2-2-1 model could be attractive to the ACC and the Big 12 through guarantees. While they would miss a first round bye most years and solidify behind the Big Ten/SEC, they would have at least two spots each year. The ACC and Big 12 finished 2023 with one top-14 team each among their future memberships.

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

CFP officials hope to wrap everything up by 2026 and beyond by the end of March. That includes not only possible expansion, but also revenue sharing and governance voting powers, where the SEC and the Big Ten are expected to receive more revenue and have more clout. Decisions will not need to be unanimous after 2026. Board chairs would still have to approve a further expansion of the CFP beyond 12. CFP CEO Bill Hancock said last week that everything this should conclude within a month, which also includes basketball tournaments on the calendar.

ESPN, which The Athletic reported that it agreed to terms for a six-year contract extension through 2031 with CFP representatives worth an average of $1.3 billion annually, has been frustrated by the length of the process. Now that further expansion is being discussed, it’s also unclear how much more ESPN would be willing to pay for two additional first-round games.

After sharing updates with their members, CFP commissioners are expected to start Zoom calls with each other to work things out in early March. The situation remains fluid. And of course, the 12-team CFP for the next two seasons hasn’t even been finalized.

“At the end of the day, 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 create something that is practically good for college football, good for the conferences and Notre Dame and also for the health and well-being, long-term, of college football.”

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(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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