Stewart Mandel raises an interesting aspect to the coming CFP broadcast deal ($$).
In 2019-20, the most recent season for which the CFP publicized its data, each Power 5 league got a flat fee of $67 million. A conference could net an additional $4 million for each team that qualified for a New Year’s Six bowl and $6 million for reaching a Playoff semifinal. As such, the spread between schools in the Big 12 (which splits only 10 ways) and those in 14-team leagues like the Big Ten was fairly modest — from $7 million to $10 million per school. The Power 5 conferences also net extra payments for their contracts with the Rose (average $40 million per team), Sugar ($40 million) and Orange ($27.5 million) bowls.
In an expanded Playoff, however, the Big 12 suddenly looks smart for staying at 10 teams all this time. With all those contracts folded into one, the expected average CFP revenue for each Power 5 conference jumps to just north of $320 million. In the Big 12, that amounts to $32 million per school, up from an average of $10 million today. The 12-team Pac-12’s hit $27 million; the 14-team ACC, Big Ten and SEC reach $23 million.
Sure, you could argue the Big 12 isn’t going to flood the playoff zone with teams any time soon, but what about Conference It Just Means More? Four playoff shares spread among ten teams goes a lot farther than it does among fourteen; Mandel’s $9 million a year ain’t chump change. And he’s using averages. If the SEC gets twice as many schools in as others, that spread is going to be even greater.
Is that enough for Sankey’s bosses to reverse course on conference expansion? If not that, it’s probably a decent reason not to add any more unless you’re getting a new member that’s a likely CFP participant.