Expanding the championship field to four teams in two years, in our humble yet meaningless opinion, is a step in the right direction for college football. On the other hand, the so-called “access games” — high-dollar bowls that will act as semifinal sites in some years and pair teams from major conferences in others — is nothing more than living proof that college athletics bigwigs are in fact capable of taking tangled wires and 1) making them more tangled and 2) lighting them on fire in the process.
Cynicism aside, a college football playoff brings in a lot of money, though just how much and to whom has been largely unknown. Until today. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports that the five power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) will receive an average of at least $91 million annually over the 12-year life of the playoff. That will be about $75 million more than the other conferences — Big East, Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA and Sun Belt — will receive during that same span.
College football’s playoff will reportedly be worth about $470 million annually according to ESPN, which will have the broadcast rights to the playoff. After expenses, commissioners have apparently decided 75 percent of the revenue will go to power conferences with 25 percent going to smaller conferences.
That alone will give the power conferences about $51.75 million annually plus payouts from access bowls. The Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC should earn another $40 million from the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, and the ACC would earn about $27.5 million from the Orange Bowl. If a Big Ten or SEC team plays in the Orange Bowl in a given year, that conference would earn the other $27.5 million in payout. Notre Dame, which also has access to the Orange Bowl, will be paid less, although the exact amount is not known.
There will also be $37.5 million in revenue distribution for schools that meet the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate requirement. Each school that meets the minimum APR requirements will receive an extra $300,000.