The era of the BCS is over. College football is now joining almost every other major sport in having a playoff. On Tuesday, university presidents voted to approve a plan put together by the commissioners of the major football conferences. The new format will involve four teams, chosen by a committee in a similar fashion to men’s college basketball. Those four teams will play in a pair of national semi-final games, with the winners facing off in the national title game.
The national semi-finals will be played in two of the four major bowl games: the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl. Two other bowl games will be added to the national semi-final rotation as well. The match ups will involve Number 1 vs Number 4, and Number 2 vs Number 3. The championship game will not have a set location. Instead it will be played at different stadiums in different years, similar to the Super Bowl. The title game will be played one the first Monday in January that is at least six days past the national semi-finals.
The new format will not begin until the 2014 season. We will have two more years of the BCS. The reason for the wait is that the commissioners want to coordinate the new format with a TV partner when their current contract is up. The BCS is signed with ESPN through the 2013 season. The NCAA will begin making its pitches to potential partners this fall. A bidding war of epic proportions is likely to follow.
There are still some details that have to be decided. Two additional bowl games need to be selected to join the national semi-final rotation. Likely candidates include the Cotton Bowl, the Gator Bowl, and the Capital One Bowl. Another important detail yet to be determined is who will sit on the selection committee. Being on the committee will be a difficult job that will face a lot of scrutiny each year. Its members must be chosen wisely.
A college football playoff is something fans have been clamoring for, and now it is finally within sight. It would be a folly to assume this solves all of college football’s problems. There will still be controversy about teams being left out of the title picture, only now it will be the 5th and 6th ranked teams complaining instead of the 3rd and 4th ranked teams. Arguments will now be made about who should have gotten into the playoffs, instead of who should have gotten into the title game. In a division with over 100 teams where many never play each other, these types of scenarios are inevitable. The sport is in a better place now, and the 2014 season can’t get here quick enough.