CHICAGO – The BCS commissioners reached a consensus Wednesday on a model for a four-team, seeded playoff that will be presented to the university presidents next week for approval.
All that's left is for the presidents to sign off and major college football's champion will be decided by playoff come the 2014 season.
The commissioners have been working on reshaping college football's postseason since January. The meeting Wednesday was the sixth formal get-together of the year. They met for four hours and emerged together with a commitment to stand behind a plan.
In fact, all 11 commissioners stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who pinch-hit for under-the-weather BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock and read the BCS statement from a podium set up in a hotel conference room.
"We are excited to be on the threshold of creating a new postseason structure for college football that builds on the great popularity of our sport," Swarbrick read.
Though they were stingy about providing specifics of that plan.
They said they were reluctant to share too many details before they had a chance to discuss them with their bosses, the university presidents. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott did say the two semifinals would be worked into the existing major bowls and the site of the national championship game will be bid out similarly to the Super Bowl.
The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee meets Tuesday in Washington, and the commissioners and Swarbrick all stressed that ultimately the decision lies with their bosses. And that the presidents will have more than just one model to talk about.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 presidents have both expressed support for the so-called plus-one model, which gives the BCS a new look by selecting the championship game participants after the bowls are played instead of creating a pair of national semifinals, which is what the commissioners came away from the latest meeting in Chicago backing.
"I'm comfortable both of those will still be discussed at the president's meeting," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said.
He added: "I think we're very unified. There are issues that have yet to be finalized."
The details being debated have been whether to have semifinal sites rotate between the major bowls — Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose and possible others to be added such as the Cotton — or tie the site of the game to which teams were playing in them.
How the teams will be selected has also been up for intense discussion. They have talked about the use of a selection committee and giving some preference to teams that win their conferences.
"I am delighted," said Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, who has supported a four-team playoff for years. "I am pleased with the progress we have made. There are some differences, but we will work them out. We're trying to do what is in the best interest of the game."