Each conference whose team plays in a playoff semifinal, Cotton, Fiesta, or Peach Bowl, or the national championship game, will get $2.43 million to pay game expenditures. In addition, select Football Championship Subdivision conferences will earn a total of $2.7 million. The remaining $3.4 million will be distributed among the other FBS conferences based on their record during the season.
Teams that finish between first and fourth place in their divisions will share $1 million each. Teams that fall from power conferences to non-power conferences also will lose some money; the former Big Ten teams would have shared $18.5 million, while the latter Liberty, Notre Dame, and Sun Belt conferences would have received $3.5 million each.
In addition to the cash awards, the winners of the five highest-paid college football bowls will receive an additional $750,000 each. These include the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and Peach Bowls.
All payments are guaranteed no matter how many players on the team report to camp early or late, who else signs with another team during the season, or whether the team wins or loses more games than expected. If a team goes bankrupt or collapses, all of its assets (including any future revenue shares) are transferred to a new company that is owned by an independent trustee. The new company then assumes all financial obligations of the defunct school.
Furthermore, teams in the "access bowls" (Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach Bowls) each receive $4 million for their participation. There is no additional compensation for teams who compete in the national championship game, simply an increased travel allowance. The remaining post-season college football games are known as "non-access bowls." These games include the New Year's Six games (Rose, Sugar, Orange), as well as other non-championship contests such as the Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas), Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Detroit), Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl (Chicago), and Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta). Teams that do not qualify for one of the four "access" bowls can still earn money by competing in a "non-access" bowl game.
In addition to the above, there is also a division I basketball tournament called the College Basketball Playoff that includes a semifinal and final round. The top three teams based on conference record advance to the playoffs while the fourth seed plays a play-in game against the team with the next highest record absent any other conflicts. The winners of these games then meet in the semifinals where the winner is guaranteed a spot in the finals. If two same-record teams meet in the playoff quarterfinals, they will be determined through a tiebreaker process called the "elimination bracket".
According to NCAA statistics acquired by USA Today, conferences made a total profit of $448 million from bowl games during the 2017-18 college football postseason, with the majority of the money coming from the College Football Playoff and large bowl games such as the Cotton Bowl. The Atlantic Coast Conference was by far the most profitable conference with $125 million in revenue, while the Mountain West Conference had the lowest average payout at $3.5 million.
In addition to the annual post-season bowls, several other games are played between the end of the regular season and Christmas Day that also generate income for schools. These include the Humanitarian Bowl, which is sponsored by United States Armed Forces members and their families; the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, which is named after a popular brand of hot dogs; and the Army / Navy Game, which is played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and is the culmination of a series that dates back to 1890.
All told, college sports revenue increased by more than 10 percent over the past year, rising to a record high of $1.46 billion. Of that amount, about $140 million came from the Bowl Championship Series, which selected the national champion from 1998 to 2014. That number is expected to drop this year because fewer teams are participating in the playoff system. However, the number of people attending bowl games is up over the past decade.