Presidents approve college football playoff
WASHINGTON — Playoffs and tournaments long have determined champions of every college sport from baseball to bowling.
The exception was major college football.
That ended Tuesday. Come 2014, the BCS is dead.
A committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team playoff put forward by commissioners of the top football conferences.
For years, the decision-makers had balked at any type of playoff because they said it would diminish the importance of the regular season. As recently as 2008, SEC commissioner Mike Slive proposed the type of plan adopted yesterday, and it was quickly shot down.
Four years later, minds changed. The 12 university presidents stood shoulder to shoulder on a stage at a news conference and delivered the news.
“It's a great day for college football,” BCS executive director Bill Hancock said. “As soon as the commissioners realized they could do this and protect the regular season, the light went on for everybody.”
The move completes a six-month process for the commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champion after years of griping from fans. The latest configuration is certain to make even more money for the schools than the old system.
“There were differences of views,” said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger, who headed the BCS presidential oversight committee. “I think it would be a serious mistake to assume it was a rubber stamp.”
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman was the most notable holdout. He had said he preferred the status quo or a tweak of the BCS. Perlman said the playoff still wouldn't be his first choice, but he wasn't going to stand in the way.
“This is the package that was put forth, and we will strongly support it,” he said.
Instead of simply matching the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a title game after the regular season, the way the BCS has done since 1998, the new format will create a pair of national semifinals.
No. 1 will play No. 4, and No. 2 will play No. 3 on Dec. 31 and/or Jan. 1. The sites of those games will rotate among the four current BCS bowls — Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar — and two more to be determined. One of the new sites likely will be wherever the newly formed bowl created by the SEC and Big 12 is played, Slive said.
The Cotton Bowl, played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, has long wanted to be part of the BCS and is expected to make a strong push to be in the semifinal rotation.
The winners of the semis will advance to the championship on the first Monday in January that is six or more days after the last semifinal. The first “Championship Monday,” as it was called in the BCS release, is set for Jan. 12, 2015.
The site of the title game will move around the way the Super Bowl does, with cities bidding for the right to host.
The teams will be selected by a committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set.
Among the factors the committee will consider are won-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and whether a team is a conference champion.
The selection committee also will play a part in creating matchups for the games at the four sites that don't host a semifinal in a given year.
The BCS had given automatic qualifying status to six conferences, the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Big East. That allowed those leagues better access to the big, high-payout games than the other five conferences.
Automatically qualified status is gone, and the commissioners believe the new system will create more interesting games beyond the ones that determine the national title.
“By creating a couple of access bowls, people will be able to play high-quality opponents in big venues with big brands,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said.