Sources – All FBS conferences are expected to approve the next CFP contract

The College Football Playoff is about to move one significant step closer to the expected 14-team playoffs that will begin in 2026, as the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame seek to meet a Friday deadline to agree to the next contract and report to the CFP if they will make the playoffs in 2026 and later. After him.

Multiple sources told ESPN on Thursday that each league and Notre Dame are expected to sign a legal agreement by midday Friday. Beginning in 2026, the new agreement will codify additional financial separation between the expanded Big Ten and the SEC from everyone else in college athletics. The G5 commissioners were in a difficult position without any negotiating power, but sources indicate they would not choose to be excluded from the PfP agreement.

“It's like an offer from the Godfather that you can't refuse,” one of the Group of Five athletic directors told ESPN on Thursday.

The financial breakdown for the projected 14-team playoff will look radically different than its predecessor in the playoffs. On an annual basis, for example, the Big Ten and SEC would earn more than $21 million per school, a higher number than the roughly $5.5 million currently paid to the Power Five leagues.

In the ACC, schools will receive more than $13 million annually, while the Big 12 will receive more than $12 million each. Notre Dame is expected to receive more than $12 million as well, and sources tell ESPN there will be a financial incentive for any independent team that makes it to the CFP. (There will no longer be a participation bonus for any of the other leagues – a detail that has been frustrating for some leaders in the G5.)

Revenue for the five-school group (AAC, CUSA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt) will rise to just under $1.8 million from the current $1.5 million. According to multiple sources, American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has been the most vocal critic of the plan, but has been unable to garner enough support from other commissioners to fight it.

Sources warn the numbers are difficult to compare, as there is uncertainty about the exact points of expenditures and distribution in the next iteration. But in the public domain, those would be the annual distributions.

It is important to remember that these numbers are indicative of a changing landscape, as funds from historical pot relationships are now being repositioned through the CFP. This is a different scenario for Notre Dame, which has not had a traditional payout.

Since the Big Ten and SEC have 34 teams and the most CFP representatives, they also had the most influence in the discussions. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who met with conference presidents and chancellors this week, said his conference has delivered on 40% of teams in the playoffs.

This is also why the ACC has a slight edge in revenue over the Big 12, as the ACC has had eight CFP semifinalists (including Notre Dame's 2020 appearance as a league member), while TCU is the only Big 12 team to reach the CFP semifinals. Who will be in the Big 12 next season. Big 12 member Cincinnati earned a CFP berth in the 2020 season while a member of the American Athletic Conference.

The wide revenue disparity from top to bottom has already drawn discontent and disapproval from schools outside the Big Ten and SEC. To help alleviate some of those concerns, sources said a “look” clause has been added for 2028 to give the commissioners and Notre Dame leadership an opportunity to re-evaluate contractual agreements based on each league’s performance to that point. There is also a clause allowing this timeline to be accelerated if there is another “material reorganisation”.

If the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame agree to move forward together as expected, the next step for them will be to complete a long-awaited television deal with ESPN. Starting in 2026, ESPN is poised to spend nearly $1.3 billion on average on the playoffs over six seasons. The deal would include the final two years of his current CFP contract, as well as a new six-year agreement for the next iteration of the playoff, sources told ESPN.

The CFP will unveil a 12-team system for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. Details of what is expected to be a 14-team field will not be determined until after the TV deal is completed.

The format of how this field will be formed remains to be determined. The format over the next two years will be five automatic qualifiers from the five top-ranked conference champions and seven at-large bids. There are expected to be ongoing discussions about what a 14-team playoff is expected to look like.

The timeline for these crucial decisions is undetermined, as it is unknown whether college sports leaders will allow one version of the 12-team playoffs to take place or decide in the coming months.

This week's internal deadline marked an unusual path forward for an organization that has historically relied on consensus to move forward on any major changes to the CFP — not just from the 10 FBS commissioners, but also from their chairs and advisors who represent them on the commission. CFP Board of Directors. Since there will be a new decade in 2026, the decisions made now for the future depend on whether their desire to participate in it outweighs any perceived unfairness in the process or form.

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