Commissioners to meet on format

Updated: November 12, 2012, 11:48 AM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN

On Monday morning, the BCS commissioners will meet to finalize more details about college football's upcoming playoff in 2014.

Among the items the commissioners expect to recommend to the Presidential Oversight Committee for approval include revenue distribution and the annual rotation of the national semifinal games to be limited to six "access" bowls, sources told ESPN.

Coming to an agreement on how the revenue generated from college football's playoff will be split has been one of the biggest challenges since the four-team event was approved in June. However, sources said the commissioners have reached a tentative agreement on revenue distribution they plan to forward to the oversight committee, which will meet with the commissioners at 2 p.m. ET.

The biggest difference in the revenue distribution, compared to the current BCS system, is that starting in 2014, five conferences -- the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC -- will receive the biggest slices of the revenue. In the current BCS system, the six automatic qualifying BCS leagues, those five plus the Big East, received the lion's share of the revenue.

In the new format, which the Sports Business Journal reported could be worth $7.3 billion over 12 years, the power five leagues will each receive an equal share, which will dwarf the compensation of the remaining five leagues (Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Mid-American), called the Group of Five.

The commissioners reached that decision based on several factors, including the BCS rankings of the conferences since 1998 based on the conference's 2014 membership. For example, the Big 12 gets credit for West Virginia and TCU's past BCS rankings, the Big Ten gets credit for Nebraska, the SEC gets credit for Texas A&M and Missouri, the ACC gets credit for Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, the Pac-12 for Utah and Colorado and the Big East gets credit for Boise State, Houston and UCF. The Mountain West and Conference USA also get credit for their new members.

Using those cumulative rankings, based on 2014 membership, for the top 25 final BCS rankings since 1998, there is a huge disparity between the power five leagues and the Group of Five conferences.

Awarding 25 points for first place, 24 for second, etc., for those annual rankings, the SEC ranks first with 1,054 points, followed by the Big Ten (860), Big 12 (816), ACC (673) and Pac-12 (671). Then there's a huge drop to the Group of Five -- the Big East (240), C-USA (49), MWC (58), Mid-American (21) and Sun Belt (0).

Because the Big East's membership has had multiple defections in the past few years, the Big East drops from receiving an AQ share to paired with the Group of Five.

While the Group of Five will receive substantially less than the Power Five leagues, sources said the commissioners are in favor of the highest-rated champion from the Group of Five receiving guaranteed access to one of the six access bowls.

Last week sources told ESPN the possibility of a seventh access bowl is "dead."

With the Group of Five earning an automatic bid, that will lock up seven of the 12 berths in the six access bowls along with the Rose (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten); Sugar (Big 12 vs. SEC) and Orange (ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame). The other five berths will be filled with at-large teams chosen, based on their final rankings, by a yet-to-be-formed selection committee.

While a Big Ten or SEC team could be selected to the Orange Bowl, the commissioners have agreed that when the Rose and/or Sugar bowls are hosting the semifinals, that the Big Ten or SEC champion will not be placed in the Orange Bowl. Instead, it would have to be placed in one of the three other access bowls, sources said.

Those remaining three access bowls still must be determined, but the leading candidates are the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A, sources said.

Another difference between the new format and the current BCS system is revenue distribution will include an academic component rewarding football programs that meet the NCAA's APR guidelines. Starting in 2014, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years or they will be penalized a "significant" amount, a source said. Those benchmarks also are required to participate in NCAA championships.

Using academics in the new playoff format to help determine the revenue distribution sends a "nice message," a source said.

"The Knight Commission focused some light on the academic element," another source said. "It's important to include that."

Conferences also will earn more revenue for each additional team that makes an access bowl. Conferences also will not be limited to how many teams it can send to access bowls. The current system limits each conference to two teams in the BCS bowls.

The Presidential Oversight Committee, which will meet with the commissioners Monday, must approve the commissioners' recommendations.

Other details to be determined include choosing the other three access bowls; who will make up the selection committee, which will pick the top four teams for the semifinals; determine where the national championship games will be held; and decide a new name for the playoff format.

Brett McMurphy | email

College football reporter

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