The commissioners of the 11 major college football conferences and Notre Dame’s athletic director gathered Tuesday in the nation’s capital to present their proposal for a four-team playoff to a panel of 12 university presidents, headed by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger.
Approval from the BCS presidential oversight committee is the last hurdle to clear for a big-time college football playoff to become a reality. The new format would replace the Bowl Championship Series, starting in 2014.
Former acting Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said before the meeting at a hotel in the DuPont Circle area of Washington that the commissioners will make about a 30-minute presentation, and then take questions from their bosses.
”The presidents have been pretty well briefed by their commissioners coming in, so it will be a matter of how much they want to discuss,” he said.
The presidents will then talk about the plan among themselves. Each of the 11 conferences and Notre Dame is represented on the presidential committee. Approval is expected, but it won’t come without some debate.
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman has said he would prefer to keep the BCS as is or make a small modification to it that would have the championship matchup set after the bowls are played instead of before. The tweaked BCS is referred to as a plus-one.
”I know Harvey Perlman will speak to the plus-one. That’s very well documented,” Neinas said with a chuckle.
The commissioners have been working on a new postseason format since January. They have held six formal meetings, the last of which was last week in Chicago. At that meeting, they announced that they had come to a consensus on a plan.
The proposal calls for two semifinals played at existing bowl sites on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, with winners advancing to a title game to be played about 10 days later. The site of the championship game will be bid out the way the NFL does with the Super Bowl. The four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, similar to the way the NCAA basketball tournament field is set.
Who exactly will be on that committee has yet to be determined. The basketball committee has 10 members and is made up of conference commissioners and college athletic directors. Neinas said the football selection committee will probably need to be larger so anyone with ties to a conference or team being discussed can be recused.
Even if the presidents sign off on the commissioners’ plan by the end of the day, there are still details to be worked out, beyond how to pick a selection committee.
The semifinal sites will rotate among the four existing BCS bowls – the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta – and a couple more sites will likely be added to that rotation. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the new home of the Cotton Bowl, is considered a front-runner to land in the rotation.
A revenue sharing plan between the conferences still has to be finalized, though the commissioners have said a framework for that is in place.
Neinas, whose career in college sports spans more than five decades, said he is not surprised to see major college football on the verge of implementing a playoff for the first time.
”What people forget is the BCS is part of an evolution,” Neinas said. ”There was the alliance, the coalition, the BCS and now this new (format) would be the four-team playoff.”