The nine Bowl Subdivision conferences, alongside Notre Dame, have reached a consensus on extending the College Football Playoff for an additional six years until the 2031 season. This marks a significant development as it establishes a revenue-sharing arrangement and lays the groundwork for finalizing media rights agreements.

football playoff
football playoff

Bill Hancock, the Executive Director, clarified that while the agreement doesn’t prescribe a fixed format for the CFP beyond 2026, it does guarantee a minimum 12-team field and ensures annual playoff access for five conferences until 2031.

Beginning this season, the playoff will expand from four to 12 teams, consisting of the five highest-ranked conference champions and seven at-large selections.

Details beyond 2026 indicate automatic bids for champions from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC, alongside the highest-rated champion from five other conferences, namely the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Sun Belt, and Mountain West.

Conversations regarding models favoring multiple automatic bids for certain conferences have been postponed for the time being.

While the potential for a 14-team playoff exists, there’s currently no concrete plan or rush to decide on it.

Commissioners may wait to assess the upcoming season’s performance under the new 12-team model before initiating further discussions.

The Pac-12’s absence from the agreement stems from its uncertainty beyond 2025, particularly due to its reduced number of teams.

A recent CFP rule stipulates that a conference must have at least eight teams to qualify for playoff access, raising doubts about the Pac-12’s eligibility if it expands in the future.

Regarding media rights, a $7.8 billion deal with ESPN has been outlined, contingent upon conference participation and revenue-sharing plans.

Details of the revenue-sharing arrangement remain undisclosed, but it’s understood that the SEC and Big Ten will receive over 50% of the distributed revenue, with the ACC and Big 12 sharing about 30%.

Notre Dame’s share is approximately $12 million annually, while Group of Five conferences and Notre Dame collectively receive the remainder.

Bonuses for participation in playoff games will be eliminated, except for independents like Notre Dame and UConn.

Washington State and Oregon State will receive annual payments of $360,000 each as non-Notre Dame independents starting in 2026, in contrast to their current share as Pac-12 members.

This decision has drawn criticism from the presidents of Washington State and Oregon State, who argue it widens the financial gap for their universities.

The deal includes a review by 2028 to consider any necessary adjustments.

Overall, this agreement represents a crucial step forward for the CFP, ensuring continuity for fans and the continued high-level competition for the national championship.

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