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College Football Playoff moving toward agreement between conferences needed to complete ESPN deal

The College Football Playoff is moving toward a revenue-sharing agreement among participating conferences that is needed in order to finalize a new media rights contact with ESPN. Discussions of what the format for the postseason system will be starting in 2026 are being tabled for now.

Conference officials were meeting separately this week with their schools to consider a deal that would commit them to the College Football Playoff for another six years, three people with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the CFP's internal discussions are not being made public.

The CFP is expanding from four teams to 12 beginning this fall. It has an agreement in principle with ESPN on new six-year deal worth $1.3 billion annually that also restructures the final two years — 2024 and '25 — of its original contract with the network to account for more playoff games.

But after 2025, there are no contracts in place that bind together the 10 major college football conferences and schools that participate in the playoff.

The people who spoke to AP said the hope is that by the end of the week all the conferences will have signed on to continue taking part and on how the revenue will be split.

Yahoo Sports! first reported last week that the plan being considered would guarantee the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences more than half playoff's annual distributed revenue. The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 would be guaranteed to split about 30%. Most of the rest would be shared by the remaining Bowl Subdivision conferences, with an annual guarantee to Notre Dame as well.

There would also be bonus shares for conferences and schools based on participation and advancing in the playoff.

Two of the people familiar with the discussions said the agreement being considered would likely have a look-in period where changes to the revenue sharing plan could be considered.

The current CFP contract calls for the Power Five conferences, including the Pac-12, to receive about $79 million per year.

Now there is only a Power Four, with the Pac-12 having been ravaged by conference realignment, and the Big Ten and SEC have demanded a bigger pieces of the revenue while backing off requests for greater access to the playoff for their teams.

One proposal was to expand the playoff further in 2026 to 14 teams and guarantee three automatic bids each to the Big Ten and SEC, with the ACC and Big 12 getting two each. Other versions that included multiple automatic bids for the Big Ten and SEC have also been put forth, but for now format talk is being shelved because it won't impact the media rights agreement with ESPN.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football