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BCS presidents approve access for non-BCS schools in playoff

DENVER -- A six-bowl, four-team college playoff has been approved that would give automatic access to the highest rated "Group of Five" team, the BCS announced Monday afternoon.

The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee approved the structure in a brief meeting here. Five months after approving a playoff, the presidents figured out the complicated process of giving the game's least-invested programs a spot at the table.

"I think it's all fair," said Texas president Bill Powers. "A lot of hard work went into this."

The Group of Five are the so-called non-BCS schools (Mountain West, Big East, MAC, Sun Belt, Conference USA) that were seeking a guaranteed spot in the system. The highest-ranked of those teams beginning in 2014 will play in one of the three "host" -- or open -- bowls. Those bowls are still to be determined.

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The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC already have automatic access to the new system via the Sugar, Rose and Orange Bowls -- so-called "contract" bowls.

Those non-BCS schools and the Big East currently account $30 million of the $175 million paid to the conferences. The current non-BCS schools alone get $12 million per year from the BCS. They get another $12 million if they land a team in the BCS.

Beginning in 2014, a playoff has been valued at approximately $475 million. There will be $220 million taken off the top of that figure each year because of the money kept by the Pac-12/Big Ten in the Rose Bowl ($80 million), Big 12/SEC in the Sugar Bowl ($80 million) and ACC/Notre Dame/Big Ten/SEC in the Orange Bowl ($60 million).

Remaining revenue -- yet to be fully determined -- will be distribted each year among the 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame.

"Everybody ought to gain proportionally," said Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman.

CBSSports.com has learned that the Big East is pushing for a larger proportion among the Group of Five in the playoff because of its perceived value in the market. That value also has yet to be fully determined. The conference is currently in negotations for a new TV contract.

Beginning after the 2014 season, six playoff bowls will take turns rotate through an annual two-game (four-team) semifinal. The top four teams as selected by a human committee will play for the national championship. Preference will be given to conference champions selected by a human committee. The other four bowls in any given year will be home to eight other teams based on a top-12 ranking by that committee.

The championship game will be bid separately.

The champions of the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are guaranteed spots each year in the six-bowl rotation. Notre Dame is guaranteed a spot in the Orange Bowl opposite the ACC champion if it is ranked higher than a non-champion from the SEC and Big Ten.

Those top five conferences have contracted for spots in the bowls that they essentially own (Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl). The other three host bowls (six spots) will be open to other teams from those top five conferences, independents and the Group of Five champion. Phoenix (Fiesta), Atlanta, Dallas and Orlando have been mentioned as favorites for host bowls.

It has not been determined how revenue will be distributed among the approximately 60 (Group of Five) schools that fall below college football's Mendoza Line. A lot like the BCS, the overwhelming majority of the revenue will be raked in by the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

The playoff will move forward with its own subset of powers. The SEC and Big Ten will each have two guaranteed spots while the Pac-12 and Big 12 have one.

The Group of Five couldn't find traction for its own contract bowl within the system because there was no market for it. While the Rose and Sugar Bowls will be worth $80 million, a contract bowl featuring the best of the Group of Five would have been worth a fraction of that figure.

The current Liberty Bowl is comparable to what a contract bowl would have looked like featuring the best of the Group of Five vs. Pac-12/Big 12 as was proposed. The Liberty features the Conference USA champion against an SEC No. 8 selection. Its TV rights per year are $1 million according to a source.

--Unlike the BCS, there is no ranking threshold for that Group of Five team. If Marshall is the highest ranked at No. 37, it would be in. If a playoff were in place right now, that team would be Louisville.

--For the first time revenue will be shared based on academic performance.

--The teams in the actual four-team playoff will get a higher portion of the revenues.

--The next point of order is to hire a staff and to rename the playoff something other than "BCS."

--As independents, Army and BYU are the only FBS schools that will not have access to their own guaranteed bowls spots. The schools will be automatic if they finish in the top four and can be selected for a playoff bowl by the selection committee if they finish in the top 12.

--Ten percent of the approximate $475 million annual value of the playoff will go into a pot to be distributed to schools for academic enhancement.

Still to be determined: Members of the selection committee and locations for the first playoff games. The commissioners will next meet Jan. 8, the day after the 2013 BCS title game in South Florida.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
 
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