CFP discussing 14-team model with 3 automatic bids each for Big Ten, SEC, AP sources say

College Football Playoff officials are considering a 14-team format that would guarantee three spots each for the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference, two for the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 and one for the highest-ranked team from the other five leagues, two people with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the CFP management committee’s talks were not being made public. The management committee is made up of 10 major college football conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the management committee was discussing the 3-3-2-2-1 AQ model.

The CFP expands from four teams to 12 this season and next, but last week executive director Bill Hancock acknowledged the group had already begun talking about another expansion, starting in the 2026 season, when a new media rights contract kicks in.

The CFP and ESPN have an agreement in principle on a new six-year contract that will pay the conferences involved about $1.3 billion per year. But the deal cannot be finalized until format and revenue distribution issues are resolved by the management committee.

While both people stressed that nothing is finalized and other models would still be considered, the idea of giving automatic bids to each power conference is being considered.

One person said the Big Ten and SEC initiated discussions about those two conferences receiving as many as four automatic bids each.

The 12-team model that will be be used for this season has conference-specific automatic bids. The five highest ranked conference champions, regardless of the league, are guaranteed a spot in the field, along with seven at-large selections. The CFP made the move from six highest-ranked conference champions to five last week, a decision prompted by conference realignment and the demise of the Pac-12.

The 14-team model being considered would have a field comprised of 11 automatic bids and three at-large selections.

The Big Ten will have 18 teams next season with the additions of USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington. The SEC will be at 16, adding Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 12 will have 16 and the ACC 17 football-playing members.

Twelve of the top 15 teams from last season’s final AP Top 25 will play in either the Big Ten (five) or SEC (seven) in the 2024 season.


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Russo has been the national college football writer for The Associated Press for two decades. He is a native New Yorker.