Six bowls in playoff format

DENVER -- The BCS commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee settled on a rotation of six bowls for the semifinals of the upcoming college football playoff system.

Also, the highest-rated champion from the "Group of Five" conferences -- the Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt and Mid-American -- will receive an automatic berth in one of the six access bowls.

Earlier, ESPN reported the six-bowl rotation would be used, as well as an automatic bid awarded for the "Group of Five" conferences.

On Monday, the BCS commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee reached an agreement on additional details to implement for college football's postseason.

The national semifinals will rotate through the six bowl games, setting up two playoff games and four major bowl games each season. The national title game will be bid out each year through a separate process similar to the Super Bowl.

The six games will include three "contract bowls" and three "host bowls." The spots in the contract bowls are reserved for teams that have deals with those bowls.

The contract bowls are: Rose (Pac-12 versus Big Ten), Sugar (SEC versus Big 12) and Orange (ACC versus Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame).

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, 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 to increase the worth of that bowl, sources told ESPN.

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

With the "Group of Five" earning an automatic bid, that will lock up seven of the 12 berths in the six access bowls. 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.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby wasn't concerned that his league does not have a second contract bowl.

"I like our opportunities on the open market," Bowlsby said, noting the Big 12 has had at least two teams in the top 12 of the BCS rankings in 11 of the past 14 years.

The "Group of Five" conferences fought to get automatic access to the six major bowls. It was especially important for the Big East, which has had an automatic berth into the BCS bowls, but in the new system, the conference will not have guaranteed access unless its champion is the top-rated among the "Group of Five."

"I think that it's great," University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft said.

Added Big East commissioner Mike Aresco: "This is a better plan for us. We'll work out the revenue. We'll be fine."

As far as the "Group of Five" not getting the same access or revenue as the "Power Five" leagues (Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC), Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said the Presidential Oversight Committee unanimously approved it.

"They did it with a smile on their faces," Perlman said. "They thought it's fair."

Sources said the group is close to finalizing the revenue distribution deal for the new playoff. The oversight committee gave the commissioners authority to finalize a media rights deal with ESPN. It is projected to be worth about $500 million a year over 12 years, Sports Business Journal reported.

The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 will receive the biggest chunk of the new revenue. Each of those leagues will receive the same base amount of revenue, sources said. The remaining "Group of Five" leagues -- Big East, C-USA, MWC, Sun Belt and MAC -- will split a smaller amount among themselves. How the "Group of Five" will divide that revenue is still to be decided.

Each conference also will receive additional revenue for the number of teams it places in the national semifinals and six major bowl games. There also will be an academic component, in which 10 percent of each conference's revenue is set aside for academics.

Schools within each conference that meet the NCAA's APR minimum requirements will divide that revenue within its conference, Perlman said.

"Today's meeting is a unanimous ratification of what we announced last June in Washington, D.C.," said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger, the chairman of the Presidential Oversight Committee, in a release. "I'm delighted that additional details have been resolved and that everything is on track so fans can enjoy the postseason they've been asking for. College football, with its great regular season, is strong and popular -- it's about to get stronger and more popular."

Next up for the commissioners is naming the new structure, details of the selection committee, the rotation of the semifinals and determining the site for the first championship game on Jan. 12, 2015.

In September, sources told ESPN the site of the first title game has been limited to six bowls: Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Rose, Cotton or Chick-fil-A.

Brett McMurphy covers college football for ESPN.